Before you start

Before deciding to work together, or to use the Framework and its agreements, industry partners and universities should plan effectively.

Remember: using the Framework is voluntary for all research commercialisation contracts and collaborations.

On this page:

Is the Framework suitable for my project?

Before deciding to use the Framework, it is important to assess if it will be useful for your project or situation.

The Framework can be used for:

Collaborative research

When universities and businesses work together to develop new technology solutions or solve research problems.

Accessing technical services and equipment

When a business wants to commission a technical service or access equipment from a university for its own research activities.

Licensing IP

When a university has developed intellectual property (IP) and a business wants to have the right to use that IP for its own internal use or commercial purposes (including selling products and services).

Buying & selling IP

When one party agrees to sell its intellectual property (IP) to another party for internal or commercial use.

The Framework recognises there will be projects where use of the template agreements is not appropriate. In these situations, parties should continue to seek independent legal advice and adopt their own agreements.

Project & Commercialisation Planning

Start early

Parties should discuss their aims for the project as early as possible. Agreements can take three to six months or more to negotiate and sign - the earlier you engage in discussions with the other party or parties, the better.

Understand intellectual property (IP)

When planning to work together, it is important that each party understands what IP they may use in the collaboration - both unregistered IP rights (e.g., confidential know-how, software) and registered IP rights (eg patented technologies).

If you are unclear about what intellectual property (IP) you may have and how this may be relevant to the collaboration, IP Australia provides guidance about the different kinds of IP, how they apply to you and how to make them work for your business.

Understand each other’s requirements and concerns

The table below will help businesses and universities understand each other’s key requirements and areas of potential concern when working together. Understanding these will help you reach an agreement more quickly.

Partner Key Requirements Key Areas of Potential Concern
  • Clear project plan and definition of key deliverables and milestones
  • Freedom to carry on academic research using the outputs from the research
  • Rights to publish except in limited circumstances
  • Clarity over what IP is being contributed to the project and how new IP will be owned and managed
  • Clarity over commercialisation plans and the academic party’s rights to share in any value created
  • Restrictions over future research activities
  • Unrealistic expectations with deliverables when undertaking research
  • Undefined and not controllable potential liabilities
  • Contributions are not fairly rewarded
  • The partner not taking forward the research to market
Industry Partner
  • Clear project plan and definition of key deliverables and milestones
  • Rights to ensure its confidential information and/or materials is respected and protected
  • Clarity over what IP is being contributed to the project and how new IP will be owned and managed
  •  Clarity over IP ownership and management
  • Clarity over commercialisation plans and the industry partner’s right to use the outputs
  • Ability to monitor progress and ensure deliverables are being met
  • Having freedom to use the results without restrictions from unknown third-party rights
  • Losing control over proprietary material shared in the collaboration
  • Having a fair return for the investment being made in the research

General planning tips

  • Discuss the other party’s drivers, concerns, and goals.
  • Be well prepared before starting detailed collaboration negotiations.
  • Think about any risks of sharing your ideas, information, and insights with others.
  • Make sure that everyone understands their responsibilities and what they can expect from the collaboration.
  • Understand that research is inherently risky and outcomes cannot be guaranteed.
  • Consider all the risks that entering a commercialisation arrangement may entail. The Framework has been created to reflect legal risks and to highlight specific accounting risks. Many arrangements that may be entered into under the Framework will also carry specific commercial risks that both parties should consider.
  • Consider what will happen if the relationship does not reach its goals or if there is a change to one of the collaborators.
  • Discuss how to mitigate against risks if things do not go as expected.
  • Record key decisions in an appropriate agreement.

More information and guidance

Read the Practical Guide

Sources of further help

Still not sure where to start? The Australian IP Toolkit for Collaboration provides additional toolkits for planning collaborations that you may also find a useful starting point.