Collaborative Research Agreement

What does OSP need to prepare a CRA?  
What is the process? 
How long will this process take? 

Collaborative Research Agreements (CRAs) are contracts between MIT and one or more organizations that are cooperating in the conduct of a research program. These agreements are nearly always requested by outside parties and are only rarely initiated by MIT.

In these agreements, there is generally no transfer of funds between organizations (referred to as a “No Cost Collaboration”). Instead, the agreement describes the actions that each organization has agreed to undertake, and defines the obligations each party has to the others participating in the collaborative research effort.

Collaborative Research Agreements may include terms governing the following:

  • Scope of work to be conducted
  • Management and staffing of the research project
  • Schedules and deliverables
  • Publication of the research results
  • Options to license the intellectual property arising from the research collaboration
  • Care of data and confidential information exchanged during the research
  • Transfer of materials among the collaborating organizations
  • Compliance with export control and other laws and regulations
  • Use of MIT’s name and the collaborator’s name
  • Rights and procedures to terminate the project
  • Taxes, insurance, warranties, liability, governing law, and other items necessary for contracts

The process for drafting, reviewing, and negotiating the CRA can be brief or lengthy, depending upon the complexity of the proposed collaborative program and what the participants expect to obtain from the CRA.

What does OSP need to prepare a CRA?

The OSP contract administrator supporting your department, laboratory, or center needs a proposal, approved by the department, lab, or center, that contains the following:

  1. A statement of work that defines the research activities
  2. Contact information for the individuals at each of the collaborating organizations who will participate in negotiating the CRA
  3. The sources(s) of the funds that MIT will use to conduct its activities in the statement of work

What is the process?

  1. Upon receiving the proposal, the OSP contract administrator will engage a contract specialist from the OSP Non-Federal Agreements Team to work with the PI(s) and collaborating organizations to draft the CRA.
  2. The contract specialist and the representatives of the collaborating organizations will discuss their organizations’ needs and expectations for the collaboration. From these discussions, a draft CRA will be generated. The contract specialist will then negotiate with representatives of the collaborating organizations until a mutually acceptable agreement is produced.
  3. The agreement will be signed by each organization and by an OSP director for MIT.
  4. The OSP contract administrator will then notify the PI and his or her department, laboratory, or center of the terms and conditions of the agreement, and will assist the PI and administrative officer in setting up the collaboration as needed.

How long will this process take?

The length of time to draft a CRA and complete the negotiation can vary widely; it is affected by the complexity of the project and the number of parties to the agreement, as well as by how many areas of disagreement must be resolved through negotiation. Potential complicating factors may include the following:

  • Multiple participating organizations
  • Complex intellectual property terms
  • Requests and requirements by participating organizations that conflict with MIT policies, practices, or organizational structure
  • How quickly and fully each participating organization’s legal counsel responds to OSP’s communications

During the negotiation, the contract specialist may need to consult with other MIT offices, such as the Office of General Counsel and the Technology Licensing Office.

Your contract administrator and contract specialist will update you on the progress of your CRA negotiation.

Where to get help: Contact the OSP contract administrator for your department, laboratory, or center.