Introduction to Industrial Sponsors

Background

Most MIT proposals to industrial sponsors arise from discussions between MIT faculty or senior research staff members and technical managers of a prospective sponsor company. In these discussions, the sponsor representative(s) and the prospective MIT Principal Investigator (PI) identify topics of mutual interest and a problem having academic merit within those topics that the company would like to solve. At the request of the sponsor representative(s), the PI drafts a statement of work (SOW) to address the problem within a budget that the company can afford to pay to MIT. The sponsor then reviews the draft SOW, provides guidance to the PI, and together a proposal is created.

In most industrial sponsorship situations there is no competitive request for proposals, only the specific discussion described above. There is therefore no firm proposal deadline, and schedules are developed by consensus between the PI and the sponsor representative(s). Unlike proposals to federal programs, there are in most cases no specific proposal content or format requirements, and by virtue of the exchange and review of the draft SOW and budgetary information, the proposal that results is automatically acceptable to the sponsor. Therefore, usually, the proposal routed to OSP already is in a format and contains the necessary content to satisfy the industrial sponsor’s requirements.

In a limited number of situations, an industrial sponsor may issue a competitive RFP to multiple universities. Examples are provided. These competitive RFPs are typically publicized through a special web site hosted by the industrial sponsor that contains the rules of the competition, instructions for format and content of proposals, a contract that the university must pre-approve before proposals can be submitted, and a web-based mechanism for proposal submission.