L&S Industry Research Q&As
Guidance for faculty and other PIs on how to make connections with industry, including how to become an industry consultant, how to create a fee-for-service program, how to get contracts and gifts from industry, how to patent protect discoveries, how to create a center dedicated to industry relations, how to create a start-up, and how to facilitate industry connections with UW.
How do I…
... become a consultant for industry?
- Consulting arrangements generally originate from an industry contact in a variety of ways (professional contacts, former students or postdocs, acquaintances, etc.). If you would like to engage with them but have no experience, you can discuss best practices with the Office of Business Engagement (OBE) (contact is John Garnetti).
- If you are interested in finding industrial interest in your area of expertise, you could use personal/professional contacts or tips from successful colleagues. The OBE can also help you find industrial partners (contact is John Garnetti).
- If you are engaging in personal consulting, and so long as the commitment is less than 2-4 days a month (the exact number depends on the department), you will not need UW-Madison approval. For commitments exceeding the departmental threshold, a management plan and UW approval is required (contact is Breeana (Bree) Hubbard). If you are engaging in group consulting it is best to use a fee-for-service model (see below).
- UW Madison does not offer legal advice for personal arrangements. However, the RSP contracts team can review draft contracts to identify any potential terms that could conflict with UW’s policies & procedures and your role at UW (contact is Bob Gratzl).
- Regardless of commitment, you are required to disclose consulting activities in the OAR system. You also need to be mindful about the intellectual property (IP) terms in your consulting agreement, to ensure that they are not in conflict with your obligations to UW, and that you are not unknowingly/inadvertently transferring existing or future IP rights to the company. When in doubt, please ask (contact is Breeana Hubbard).
Comments: UW-Madison gives no guidance on export control, foreign relations, or other policies if it is for personal gain.
... create a fee-for-service program?
- Identify the program and describe it in as much detail as appropriate.
- If necessary, reach out to the UW-Madison Budget office for a market analysis and appropriate rates (contact is Suzanne Schlecht). If you are planning long-term, you can also contact OBE for business model development, outreach, and partner cultivation (contact is John Garnetti).
- You will need to open a 136 account to deposit your profits. The College Business office can provide instructions on how to open one (contact is Mehdi Rezai). Both the Campus Budget office and the College Business office can assist you in completing the requisite forms.
- Once the 136 account is approved, advertise your services! If you need a web page for the program, contact IT support in your unit, or the College IT team if your unit lacks IT support (contact is Matt Prough).
Comments: Some funding agencies (e.g. NSF) now give awards that include revenue generating through a fee-for- service model. These awards have a different model and they do not need a 136 account: expenses and revenues are part of the grant. However, once the term of the grant ends, a 136 account will be required if the service continues.
... get contracts/gifts from industry? (Internships, research contracts, and more)
- Identify the type of industry and establish connections. This can be done through personal/professional contacts (former students and postdocs, acquaintances) or tips from successful colleagues. If you do not have connections, the OBE can help you find them (contact is John Garnetti). Understand that sometimes you will need to meet with many industrial representatives before establishing any connection – but once you establish one or two, you are probably in for the long run.
- Once industrial partners express interest in funding your research, contact the College Research office before agreeing to do anything (contact is Breeana Hubbard). Do NOT sign any document! The office will provide you with a “Term Sheet” describing the baseline for any contract agreement (non-negotiable). These are determined by State law and UW policy.
- If after reviewing the Term Sheet the industrial partner remains interested, put them in contact with the College Research Office, they will work with the RSP contracts team to draft and sign the contract (contact is Breeana Hubbard). This could take a few weeks or months, depending on the complexity of the contract.
- If the industrial partner would like to give a gift towards your research the procedure is simpler, and it will go through the UW Foundation, in consultation with RSP. Unlike research contracts, gifts do not have strings attached; gifts with grant-like restrictions are not considered gifts but grants. Check both with the L&S Budget and the Research Office about accepting a gift (contact is Jana Valeo and John Varda).
- A contract through the UW is NOT considered an outside activity, and you do not need to disclose it in OAR.
Comments: sometimes beneficial work with industry can be perceived as harmful to your academic reputation. The Associate Dean for Research (ADR) can discuss with you best practices in these situations.
... patent (protect and transfer) my discoveries?
- WARF is UW-Madison’s technology transfer office. If you have questions about intellectual property (IP), including how your research may be patentable or UW’s policies & procedures, WARF is an excellent resource (contact is Brian Frushour).
- Public disclosures (e.g., published journal articles, seminars, poster presentations) impact patent rights. It is important to contact WARF prior to such activity to ensure that rights are retained and obligations to funding agencies (federal or corporate) can be met. In general, it is never too early to discuss your discovery with WARF.
- As an alternative to personal contact, WARF provides a simple online submission form to submit your discoveries. This confidential submission will initiate a conversation with WARF staff, which could ultimately result in a patent.
Comments: If you have questions, contact L&S research services before or after working with WARF (contact is the ADR). If WARF accepts your discovery for patenting (or other form of IP protection) they cover all associated fees and if licensed, the licensing revenue is returned to the inventors, their department(s), and the UW.
... create a Center dedicated to industry relations?
- The first step is to decide on the organizational structure/vision of the center and to find funding to support operations and activities. These often are provided by federal funding offices, for example NSF's Industry-University Cooperative Research Centers site, or through industry contributions, or both. OBE can help you develop the structure (contact is John Garnetti), or you can contact the L&S Research Service office (contact is Breeana Hubbard).
- UW-Madison is a member of UIDP, the University Industry Demonstration Partnership, a professional organization helping facilitate the relationship between University and Industry. Faculty and Staff have free access to their resources (local contact is John Garnetti).
- If you are targeting industrial funds, start with one – or a few - founding members and work with them to set the baseline of how the center will interact with industry. It might take a long time to draft the final agreement, especially if your center is a new type of center for which there is no previous experience, so plan ahead.
- Industry contributions for the center can come as gifts (no strings attached), grants (some industries will award grants even if they have no string attached) or as fees that multiple industrial partners pay to be members of the center (a Consortium model). In the Consortium model the partners gain first access to research discoveries, to students, etc., but not to IP.
- Centers can be the channel to obtain industry contracts, internships, and overall visibility. It clearly needs to be designed to address an industrial need: you will need a clear market and feedback from initial partners for point 1.
- Once funding, organizational structure and governance are determined and approved, you will need to go through campus governance to ensure the center is officially recognized. A description of the process is here (contact is Elaine Klein).
Comments: depending on the nature of the center, this could be a long process. Contact Breeana Hubbard, John Varda or the ADR as soon as possible if you plan to create this type of center.
... create a start-up based on my discoveries?
Campus has two offices dedicated to supporting start-up creation:
Discovery to Product (D2P) offers educational programs, advice, and initial mentoring. It also offers a comprehensive list of campus resources which is easy to use, and some funding opportunities. It is not fully comprehensive, but it is a good place to start, particularly for first-time entrepreneurs.
Technology Entrepreneurship Office (TEO) is a new office focused on technology startups and offering comprehensive support throughout the entire process.
- A first step may be to disclose an invention to WARF. They can identify your invention as promising for a start-up and forward it to one of the campus offices above. You could also contact either D2P or TEO directly. They can also help find out if there is a market for your product.
- Identifying mentors is also an important part of pursuing your first startup. Both D2P and TEO are good resources for identifying and connecting you with a mentor. This step is very important and critically helpful as the mentor will provide you with needed advice and with your de facto training.
- Finally, your new company will need funding. D2P and TEO may also be able to help with this step.
Comments: If you want a more extensive education you can go through IGNITE, a 14-week program at D2P covering a check list of steps. You might also need to rent space. We can help you with some ideas (e.g. check with Research Park). On campus space rental is difficult, but not impossible. Campus is enhancing its capabilities to host University-generated start-ups in the area, so this step might be easier soon. The contact for discussions on space is the ADR. The College contacts on other steps of start-up formation are Breeana Hubbard, John Varda, or the ADR.
... facilitate a partnership between a company and UW-Madison?
Creating visiting scientist agreements, having internships programs for students and postdocs, creating industrial postdocs positions, or even joint degrees are some of the programs currently developed in academia and the College will be happy to partner with you to explore them (contact is the ADR). Have in mind that even hosting training workshops on campus for an industrial partner will require drafting a contract.
Closer institutional relations - for example, hosting industrial offices on campus - are unusual but they might become more common in the future. They require the involvement of the Vice-Chancellor for Research Office, so please contact the ADR so the College is aware of your plans and can advise you on the best path moving forward.
Helpful Links (in alphabetical order)
Outside Activities Reporting (OAR)
Research and Sponsored Programs (RSP)
TEO (Technology Entrepreneurship Office)