Sponsored Research negotiates a range of agreements and appropriate agreement terms with potential collaborators, including industry and other non-federal collaborators, such as nonprofit philanthropic organizations, state governments, and foreign governments. Examples of these agreements include memoranda of understanding (MOUs), non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), federal-flow through agreements (including SBIRs and STTRs), and “master” research agreements. Each agreement - and associated negotiation - is tailored to the scope and nature of the work, the type of organization sponsoring the work and the individual investigators and research programs involved (among many variables). These agreements are drafted, reviewed, negotiated, executed, and recorded by the Sponsored Research on behalf of the University. It is not uncommon for Sponsored Research representatives to involve other central administration offices in the drafting and review of agreements, as well as appropriate investigators and school, department and/or research center administration offices.
Please note that an agreement must be signed, or institutionally endorsed, by the Office for Sponsored Research in order for the agreement to be formally recognized by Northwestern and be binding upon the University.
See an overview of types of sponsored activity
University Endorsement of Correspondence
Correspondence to external funding agencies or institutions concerning the administration of sponsored projects requires University endorsement prior to transmittal. Correspondence pertaining to post-award administration is reviewed by the Sponsored Research Grant Officer. To obtain University endorsement, correspondence should be routed to the Evanston or Chicago campus Sponsored Research office via ESPR
. Once reviewed, correspondence is endorsed for the University and forwarded to the appropriate funding agency; a copy is also forwarded to the principal investigator (PI). Upon receipt of a response from the funding agency, Sponsored Research will notify the PI and the PI's department. Should the nature of the request involve rebudgeting or an extension of time, such action will be performed after receipt of agency approval.
Engaging with Industry
The Guide for Industry
is a summary of the broad principles specifically applicable to research agreements between Northwestern University and industrial or commercial organizations. Northwestern’s Standard Research Agreement
is available to provide to collaborators before formal negotiations occur. It offers terms that Northwestern could endorse with efficiency. Formal negotiations (including any negotiations involving detailed budgets) must involve Sponsored Research.
In order to protect each of the collaborators to a potential agreement, or under a potential project, confidential information should NOT be exchanged until an NDA is fully executed by the authorized representatives of each of the collaborators. Sponsored Research houses authorized representatives of Northwestern. Northwestern faculty members are NOT authorized representatives of Northwestern.