International Activities

As international collaborations continue to grow at MIT, it becomes increasingly important to identify as soon as possible any potential legal, financial or implmentation issues that may be involved. The International Coordinating Committee (ICC) was established in 2012 to support these efforts. Its website and Top Ten List will familiarize Principal Investigators and department administrators with the questions they should ask as they consider new international activities.

MIT has a long history of engaging in international research activities. The Global MIT  site provides general information on a variety of international research and educational initiatives. Among the larger research initiatives are:

These activities are built upon the foundation of MIT’s policies and procedures that govern all sponsored activities.

Even though foreign sponsors may not require endorsement of the MIT proposal by the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP), all proposals for international activities must be routed to OSP before submission in accordance with current standard MIT procedures. Generally, OSP will negotiate the agreements, and an authorized MIT signatory will execute them.

Be aware there are additional considerations for managing these activities at MIT:

  • In 2007, Provost Rafael Reif established an International Advisory Committee (IAC) to advance MIT’s core mission of teaching, research, and service abroad. The IAC must review all international activities. To assist this review, Principal Investigators should fill out the following form:
    MIT International Advisory Committee (IAC) International Institutional Activity Review Form - July 2013
    Principal Investigators also are encouraged to discuss any plans for international programs with the IAC Co-Chairs Claude Canizares and Philip Khoury.
  • U.S. export control regulations are more likely to be a concern when MIT collaborates with foreign organizations. Shipping materials, data, equipment, and other technologies may be governed by the U.S. Departments of State, Commerce, or Energy. Making payments to individuals or transferring items or information to individuals may be restricted by several agencies, including the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) in the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Some research conducted by U.S. persons outside the U.S. may not qualify as fundamental research, and items, data and technology originating outside the US are subject to U.S. export controls when brought to the U.S., possibly resulting in restrictions to access and publication. Researchers should review the export control site and speak with the MIT export control officer regarding such activities.
  • Often, sponsors will have specific practices related to publication, intellectual property, and taxation that differ from the ways in which U.S. industry and universities transact business. Therefore, it is important to get as much advance notice as possible in order to develop agreements that are appropriate for both parties. Contact Shawna Vogel or Michelle D. Christy regarding questions about contracts with foreign entities.
  • Participation in collaborations sponsored by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 Programme (H2020) are often of great interest to our faculty, yet contain non-negotiable terms that MIT has not been able to accept. Proposals for such programs are therefore strongly discouraged, as MIT will not be able to participate as an Institute at this time.
  • Marie Sklodowska-Curie fellowships that meet certain requirements can be accepted at MIT. For details about the requirements please review the guidance.
  • International engagements often include research, educational programs, fellowships, and a variety of other academic activities. In 2008, the Office of Major Agreements (OMA) was initiated to manage the negotiation process for significant engagements identified by senior leadership. The OMA will involve the OSP, the Office of the General Counsel (OGC), the Technology Licensing Office (TLO), or other offices as necessary, to negotiate agreements that address these multivariate relationships.
  • Participants in international activities need to be familiar with the unusual requirements and risks of international travel. MIT has implemented a Travel Risk Policy to support well-informed travel decisions where there may be heightened health or safety risks. In addition, MIT has contracted with a travel assistance company to provide emergency medical and security services—you may review this information on International SoS.
  • Each year, MIT welcomes a large number of international visiting researchers, faculty, and lecturers who may be participating in one of our many international collaborations. The MIT International Scholars Office assists MIT faculty and staff in bringing these visitors to the MIT campus.
  • Faculty, principal investigators and program administrators are encouraged to  consult with the ICC for planning and implementation considerations, and unusual terms and conditions in the early implementation stage of international projects to obtain the most effective support for their work.