Industry Sponsored Agreements

Prospective Research Partner,

We are very pleased you have decided to consider partnering with the University of Kentucky for your next research project.

The University of Kentucky is committed to building on its history of successful collaborations by providing a cooperative and supportive environment that benefits our research faculty, staff and students, and our sponsors.

Please use this guide for information on common issues involved in research agreements. Then we invite you to contact us to discuss your specific project.


Industry-funded research and technology transfer at the University of Kentucky have accelerated at an unprecedented pace over the past few years.

This is due primarily to the top-quality faculty at UK and the breadth and scope of the research areas they represent. The university has received national and international recognition in advanced medical research, gerontology and aging, clinical pharmaceutical sciences, toxicology, geography, computer science and electrical engineering, materials synthesis, biological chemistry, plant sciences, management and economics, and the psychology of substance abuse and prevention.

University researchers attract external research and development awards in excess of $400 million annually, and rankings for licensing income and patents activity place UK in the top quarter of all public universities in the country.

Partnering with business and industry is important to UK and its public service and economic development mission. Collaborating on sponsored projects and transferring technology for public use are part of the University of Kentucky’s goal of being a leader in addressing the issues and challenges facing the Commonwealth and beyond.

Corporate Identity

The University of Kentucky is a public institution of higher education. The University of Kentucky Research Foundation (UKRF), a 501(c) (3) non-profit corporation, is the agent of the university for soliciting and receiving grants and research agreements from external funding sources. UKRF also owns and controls intellectual property on behalf of UK.


Projects funded by public or private entities should cover the full cost of the activity, including direct and facilities and administrative costs. There are different facilities and administrative cost rates depending on the type of activity and location. Rates for research conducted on campus normally range from 45 to 50 percent. For a complete set of current rates, see our Facilities and Administrative Cost Agreement.

Agreements may be funded by a fixed amount or based on actual-cost invoices. To allow the university to maintain a reasonable cash position, there is normally a substantial initial payment when the contract is signed with no more than 10 percent held back for submission of a final report. Checks are made payable to the University of Kentucky Research Foundation, IRS# 61-6033693.

Intellectual Property

UK encourages commercial development of intellectual property made in the course of sponsored research and will typically grant the sponsor a first option to negotiate an exclusive or nonexclusive license to resulting intellectual property. The cost of an option and/or royalty rates is normally negotiated at the time of licensing. If federal funds contributed to the development, federal laws govern some rights to use intellectual property.

Please contact the Office of Technology Commercialization for more information on Material Transfer and Confidentiality Agreements. A sample Allocation of Rights in Intellectual Property Agreement is available under Forms and Templates

Conflict of Obligations

The university does not knowingly accept a contract that conflicts with the obligations of another agreement. However, an agreement may not include a general restriction that prevents the investigator or others from doing research for other sponsors in similar areas.

Authority to Contract

Faculty and staff are encouraged to discuss ideas for potential research projects with industry representatives. Actual work should not begin on a project until the appropriate documents are submitted through the university’s internal review process and both parties sign a mutually acceptable agreement. Only designated officials are authorized to sign agreements for the university. Faculty members may not obligate UK in this manner.

Samples of UK's Contractual Agreements are available under Contracting on the OSPA Forms and Templates page. 

Best Efforts, Liability

Due to the unpredictable nature of research, UK does not agree to guarantee results. Research is conducted on a “best efforts” basis, based on a clearly defined scope of work, and the university cannot accept a penalty if a sponsor is not satisfied with the results. In accordance with state law, UK may not indemnify or hold a sponsor harmless. However, the institution will be responsible for its actions to the extent provided by statute.


To fulfill its mission as a tax-exempt academic institution, UK must be free to disseminate the results of research and other scholarly activities. Therefore, the university may not accept agreements that prohibit or restrict the right to publish. UK clearly recognizes the need of industry sponsors to protect the confidentiality of their own information. When a sponsor provides proprietary information to an investigator, that information will be held in confidence. Sponsors are generally given 30 days to review proposed publications and up to an additional 90-day delay if needed to protect intellectual property.

UK publishes reports of grant and contract awards. The information usually consists of the sponsor, title, investigator, and award amount. You can view past awards reports under Research Data or in the Reports Archive

University of Kentucky Contacts

The Office of Sponsored Projects Administration, OSPA, is authorized by the University of Kentucky to negotiate and legally accept sponsored agreements.

Clinical Trials

Information about the University of Kentucky's policy on Clinical Trials is available under Clinical Trials Agreements. A sample clinical trial contract is available under Forms and Templates. More information about the Center for Clinical and Translational Science, who handles the clinical trials that take place at and with the University of Kentucky, is available on the CCTS homepage