Master Research Agreements (MRAs)

A Master Research Agreement (MRA) may be appropriate where a single sponsor intends to fund multiple research projects at the University over a long period of time for specific purposes, but desires an open-ended scale or scope of work for individual projects. In these situations the sponsor commits to funding defined periods of performance for a project pursuant to a detailed statement of work (SOW).  However, the terms and conditions are predetermined by the MRA and generally are not subject to re-negotiation, unless under special circumstances; the SOW and any project specific information are attached to the MRA by way of pre-approved form addendum.  The MRA is intended to govern the activities of all projects funded under the agreement and sets out the obligations of the parties in funding, payment, background IP disclosures, and conducting the scope of work proposed for any such project.

As an alternative to a MRA, the sponsor and the university can develop a template Sponsored Research Agreement (SRA) with a negotiated set of terms and conditions.  This template SRA may then be modified for individual sponsored research projects, thereby speeding up the approval process for new research awards.

Negotiating a MRA is a thorough and deliberate process.  The MRA must contemplate contractual terms and conditions applicable over long periods of time and to a diverse set of circumstances.  This is especially difficult where future research activities of the sponsor at the University are still under development and specific research topics and projects are, as yet, unknown.  In addition, determining how the MRA will be administered can be challenging since the MRA quite possibly will govern research conducted in laboratories, departments, and centers located in various schools across campus.

A for-profit sponsor who wishes to develop a MRA with the University should contact the Office of Industry Engagement (OIE) with the following information:

  • The amount of multi-year funding the sponsor intends to commit in support of the research projects under the MRA;
  • A technical description of the types of research the sponsor is interested in funding under the MRA, along with a list of the laboratories, departments, or centers at the University in which the research may take place; and
  • The name of the PI, laboratory, department, or center at the University who will take the lead as liaison between the sponsor and the various principal investigators for research projects under the MRA.

NOTE: A federal, state, or foundation sponsor should contact the Office of Sponsored Projects to discuss MRAs.

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