Elements of an Effective Research Project

In addition to a sponsor’s specific objectives for sponsoring research at MIT, most industry-sponsored research at the Institute shares these characteristics:

  • The research is ambitious and highly challenging.
  • The research results generate value for both the sponsor and MIT.
  • The planning and management of the research (as governed by the research agreement) recognize these characteristics and anticipate how both parties may derive value from the research.

Highly Challenging Research

Ambitious and highly challenging research projects:

  • Have a potentially important and long-term impact
  • Advance the frontiers of present knowledge
  • May yield unexpected outcomes and thus require flexible management
  • Are complex, often requiring multidisciplinary teams

Value for Both Parties

Mutual Learning

A sponsor’s primary objective in sponsoring research at MIT is to gain knowledge that allows the company to incorporate innovative technologies into its products and services, build new competencies, and/or increase productivity.

MIT’s objectives are to advance the scholarship of MIT faculty and scientists, train students for careers, and enable further cutting-edge research.

Impact of Research Results on Markets and Society

MIT and sponsors both want research results to generate new products and services in the market, thereby benefiting society through economic growth and the advancement of knowledge.

Formula for Sharing Success

MIT furthers its goal of benefiting society by licensing sponsors to commercialize inventions generated during the research they sponsor. If an MIT invention enables a sponsor to bring a new product or service to market, MIT shares in its successful research by receiving a modest royalty. MIT’s royalties are shared with its inventor(s) and are reinvested in future research.

Planning, Management, and Agreement

  • Before a research agreement is drafted, the sponsor and MIT’s principal investigator should reach consensus on the area of research interest, the project plan, the budget, the schedule, the communication of results, and the respective contributions of both parties.
  • Both parties should identify internal champions and relationship managers for the project.
  • An agreement then can be drafted that defines the project and serves the respective interests of both parties.