Technology transfer is the process of moving technologies from the lab bench into corporate product development. With federal grant programs placing greater emphasis on practical outcomes and “translational research,” and with corporate research funding growing in importance, tech transfer plays an increasingly vital role today.
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Research Foundation supports research and innovation, and is the entry point for exploring corporate partnerships, intellectual property development or technology transfer.
The UWM Office of Sponsored Programs provides administrative support for contracts and technology transfer activities, including contract review, award negotiation and acceptance, and account setup.
Technology Transfer Activities
Technology transfer projects differ from publicly sponsored projects in that a contract is issued between a UWM researcher and a scientific counterpart in the private sector. The expectations set forth in the contract are usually presented in documents and approvals necessary throughout the grant process: the proposal, federal and University certifications and clearances, and award acceptance and negotiation.
The following sections describe the necessary policies and procedures for establishing technology transfer projects at UWM from conception to completion.
As with other sponsored work, most technology transfer projects involve the development of proposals for work to be done. However, there are several differences between the standard research proposal and a proposal for more translational work:
Scope of Work
The scope of work sets out the goals, objectives, activities and timelines of the proposed research. It’s often the product of a collaboration between the UWM researcher and his/her scientific counterpart in the private sector, and it addresses a need that the parties have jointly identified. The scope of work for privately funded research tends to be narrow, aimed at solving a practical problem in the context of a commercial product or service, as opposed to basic research, which addresses a more general scientific question.
The scope of work should clearly differentiate your corporate-funded research from all other concurrent scholarly activities. This will protect UWM from the possibility that multiple sponsors may have overlapping rights to the same invention.
Use the OSP Budget Development Tool (Updated 6/17/2021) to generate an accurate estimate of project costs. Detailed information on costs and rates is available, but the Tool is the quickest way to generate an accurate cost estimate for your project. The output from the budget tool can be translated into a fully loaded budget, which is preferred by some corporate sponsors.
Example: Assume a faculty member on an academic appointment is salaried at $10,000/month, and plans to expend 10% effort (77 hours) on a research project for one semester (9,272 ÷ 77). The fully loaded cost for that effort (salary, fringe, F&A) is $9,272. The fully loaded hourly rate is $120.42.
The conversion of effort into labor hours entails some ambiguity, because you must estimate the number of hours per week that you will work on all University activities. This can be highly variable and affects the final hourly rate. The best approach is to calculate a reasonable average rate and then use it consistently in all your fully loaded budgets.
Before the Office of Sponsored Programs can accept an award or contract from a sponsor, the project and/or the Principal Investigator, Co-investigators, and other project staff need to comply with relevant federal, state, and University policies:
The following clearances, if applicable, must be in place and documented in the project WISPER record before a research project can begin:
Effort reporting is the method of certifying to federal granting agencies that the effort required as a condition of the award has actually been completed. Federal regulation requires individuals who expend committed effort on a sponsored project or are paid from a sponsored project to certify their effort. Faculty, academic staff, graduate students, and post-docs certify their effort on sponsored projects twice per year through ECRT.
For more information about Effort Certification, contact Carla Durand.
Conflict of Interest
The UWM COI Program protects employees and the institution by identifying and preventing situations in which there is a conflict between an employee’s personal interests and that employee’s public responsibilities to the UWM. In response to federal regulations, state laws, and UW System policy, individuals at UWM must disclose their outside financial interests annually and must update their disclosure throughout the year as their outside interests change. The Outside Activities Disclosure Report must be completed by all UWM PIs and co-investigators on federal grants, UWM faculty, academic staff and limited appointees with appointments of 50% or greater, and all individuals with active management plans from the UWM Conflict of Interest Committee.
For more information about Conflict of Interest reporting, contact Kate Mollen.
Export controls primarily refers to the federal International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and the Export Administration Regulations (EAR).The ITAR govern the export of “defense articles” and “defense services.” The term “export” means the transfer of items, information or services overseas, or their provision to a foreign person inside the U.S. (including, for example, a student in a classroom or a colleague in a research lab).
The EAR govern the export of “dual-use” technologies—items that are used, or have the potential to be used, for military and non-military purposes if such export could adversely affect the national interests of the U.S. The definition of “export” under the EAR is very similar to the definition under the ITAR.
Both sets of regulations apply only to items and information that are not publicly available; therefore, the results of academic research are generally exempt from both the ITAR and the EAR provided that the results have been published (ITAR) or are intended for publication (EAR).
Export controls are most likely to apply in a university setting if:
- Research results cannot be published until approved by the sponsor, or
- Items or information have been received from an outside source under a confidentiality agreement.
In such circumstances, if the information is export-controlled it cannot be shared with certain “foreign persons” (i.e., a person who is not a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident) unless a license is first obtained from the U.S. government.
For more information about Export Controls, contact contact Kate Mollen.
UWM is the legal recipient of research funding under a written agreement with the sponsor. Negotiation and acceptance of corporate-sponsored research funding agreements are the responsibility of the Contracts Specialist in the Office of Sponsored Programs. This section includes important information about award negotiation and account setup:
Modifications to Original Proposal/Budget
It is not uncommon for a sponsor to fund a project at an amount less than requested and/or to request changes in the proposed work or in the scope of services. If you receive such a request, contact the Pre-Award Specialist assigned to your School/College/Division for assistance with satisfying the new requirements. Proposal and/or budget modifications require you to update the information in your project WISPER record. If the change in the budget is relatively significant, follow the WISPER instructions for submitting a revised budget for an existing WISPER record. If the modified budget affects the scope of work or the proposal commitments, attach a revised project description to the existing WISPER record.
Accepting Awards for the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System
Award notices may come into the University in a variety of ways. Notification may be sent to the Chancellor and/or to the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) with a copy to the PI/Project Director. In some cases, the sponsor may send a letter of notification and the award documents directly to the PI/Project Director with a request that it be signed and a copy returned accepting the terms and conditions of the award. Only the UWM Office of Sponsored Programs is authorized to accept awards on behalf of the Board of Regents of the UW System. If you receive such documents, forward all award documents to the Pre-Award Specialist assigned to your School/College/Division. The award document/agreement will be signed by an institutional official in OSP if it is acceptable to you and is not in conflict with federal or state statues, University policies, and/or the mission of the University.
OSP is responsible for ensuring the terms and conditions of the award agreement are acceptable to the University and to the PI/Project Director. In most cases, the conditions of the award will not require significant negotiation. If the agreement contains unusual conditions, the Pre-Award Specialist assigned to your School/College/Division will work closely with you to protect your interests and those of the University.
Policies Related to the Acceptance of Awards
After the award is accepted by OSP, you will receive a draft contract to review the terms and conditions. If you agree with the terms, sign the WISPER record for the award and route it to your Division for signature. The Technology Transfer Manager will obtain the required signatures on the contract and then create a fund account to which your expenditures can be charged. For more information, contact Kate Mollen.
Data from the WISPER record flow through to the University grants accounting system. Those data must be correct to ensure trouble-free administration of your research grant or contract. Please help us maintain the accuracy of WISPER data by reviewing all screens before you accept an award.