Researchers at the University of Oklahoma (“university”) may be requested to conduct research related services for an outside entity. The provision of such services fits within the research and service missions of the university when: 1) the university is uniquely qualified to offer such special services; 2) those services provide additional research and experience for the university’s faculty, staff, and students; and 3) access to those services or to specialized equipment is not readily available through local commercial means. These services may include the utilization of specialized expertise of the faculty or specialized instrumentation, e.g., testing and/or characterization of certain materials.
For purposes of this type of agreement, services are defined as “small, specifically-designed” projects and are confined to those projects that provide services involving classification, diagnostics, or testing of a sponsor’s data, samples, mechanisms, procedures, or products. These services are performed using university resources, including, but not limited to, personnel, equipment, or facilities. These services must be unique in some fashion and should not present competition to private industry.
The rationale for university involvement in this kind of service or testing is because university faculty conduct research that is often on the leading edge of scientific investigations--they are uniquely qualified to provide certain kinds of services that are not readily available locally from the private sector. The services provided should not be perceived as being in competition with private companies.
UNDER $25,000: Ordinarily, these projects are defined as "small, specifically-designed" projects and shall be for less than $25,000. In some instances, larger projects may be considered for processing under this policy. Rationale by the researcher(s) involved should be provided as to why the larger project should fall under this consideration, and approval must be provided from the Office of Technology Commercialization prior to use of the Service Agreement. Most projects exceeding a cost of $50,000 will require the use of a Sponsored Research Agreement.
Publication and Use
The results of the activities performed under a Service Agreement must be available for publication and for use in support of the university's research mission.
If the service(s) contemplated under this agreement require the provision of Sponsor’s proprietary information, the terms of confidentiality shall be set forth in a Confidentiality Agreement executed by both parties.
In performing a Service Agreement, the university is simply involved in the provision of services related to sponsor-provided information and not in the creation of new knowledge or new technologies. Consequently, the university will make no claims on patent rights in regard to sponsor-owned materials or information provided for the Project. The concept behind a Service Agreement is university faculty are providing testing or diagnostic services, not performing basic or applied research. However, the university will retain rights to inventions which are not related to a sponsor's product or processes or fall outside the scope of the Project's Statement of Work. For instance, if university personnel are analyzing a sponsor's material with a scanning electron microscope (SEM) and discover a new analytical method involving the SEM, the resulting method would belong to the university. The university does acknowledge the potential for its services (testing and diagnostics) to potentially lead to small improvements to a sponsor's material or product but feel that such incremental advances should be the property of the sponsor. However, university personnel who are involved in such discoveries must be listed as co-inventors in accordance with U.S. patent law. The university shall also retain a right to use any such improvements for internal research purposes.
As Service Agreement clauses regarding intellectual property differ from the provisions in the university Standard Research Agreement wherein basic or applied research is involved, a Service Agreement Certification form will need to accompany the internal routing by the Office of Research Services. A Service Agreement will not be approved without execution of this Service Agreement Certification form by university personnel.
Researchers Coordinating with the Office of Research Services
Faculty proposing to use a Service Agreement to conduct work on behalf of a sponsor shall initiate the process with the Office of Research Services (ORS) by submitting an information sheet like a normal proposal. Once ORS has received the Service Agreement Certification and the proposal has been approved through the routing process, ORS shall submit to the outside entity the university standard Service Agreement, which has been approved by university Legal Counsel and the Office of Technology Commercialization. Be advised that this policy only addresses the use of the university standard form. Any proposed changes to the university standard form or use of a sponsor's form requires review and approval by the appropriate university offices through ORS. In order not to delay approval of the Project, any proposed changes to the university form or submission of a sponsor's form must be submitted well in advance of the proposed Project start date to allow adequate time for review. As negotiations and discussions on these matters may take some time to complete, any proposed changes to the university standard form or use of a sponsor's form should be submitted to ORS for review and consideration at least four (4) weeks in advance of the proposed Project start date.
University faculty should not co-mingle service projects with any other research activity within their labs. Special attention should be given so as not to employ inventions or new technologies developed or created on federally sponsored or company-sponsored research projects in such a way as to encumber these inventions by the terms of the Service Agreement. A complete segregation of service activities should be accomplished through the use of separate lab notebooks. The university and individual investigators do not want to see major technological developments encumbered by small service agreements.
The university must recover full costs including facilities and administrative costs and is non-negotiable from the outset.