Research and Innovation Services


Contracts process

Learn more about the role of Contract Services, the contracting process, types of agreements, and timescales for completing agreements.

Research contracts are legally binding agreements that govern collaborative research and innovation activity between UCL and external organisations. They contain the terms and conditions under which specific research-related activity is to be conducted. 

Our Contracts Services team supports research and innovation at UCL by providing expert legal advice for a wide range of agreements from all sectors, including external funders, collaborators, industry, government departments, charities, and fellow Higher Education Institutions. The team:

  • Advise on the appropriate form and content of contract documents for proposed research activities and transactions
  • Review contractual terms to ensure they reflect the transaction to be governed by the agreement and that they are consistent with UCL policy
  • Draft bespoke contractual documentation, including amendments and extensions, collaboration agreements, and subcontracts
  • Negotiate the terms of research agreements with external organisations to ensure fit-for-purpose terms are agreed
  • Approve and authorise agreed contractual terms in accordance with UCL policy.

Research contracts at UCL are set up based on standard agreements and also in more bespoke forms for unusual or complex transactions. Example agreement and transaction types include:

  • Collaboration Agreements
  • Confidentiality Disclosure Agreements (CDAs) or Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs)
  • Data Sharing Agreements
  • Material Transfer Agreements (MTAs)
  • Novation and Amendments
  • Studentship Agreements
  • Subcontracts.

UCL staff should seek advice from our Contract Services team on contract arrangements for planned research and innovation activity. For European Union (EU) grants or contracts, staff should contact the European Research and Innovation Office for support.


    Each individual agreement requirement will need a contract. UCL has several template agreements that represent the university's preferred starting position. These templates will be tailored to the specific purpose for which they will be used.

    The contract negotiation process is iterative and may take a few rounds to complete. Contract Services will always aim to reach a mutually acceptable and appropriate position for UCL, and the funder, and any collaborators.

    Once the need for a contract has been identified, a contract request should be submitted in Worktribe via the relevant project record. As the contract progresses, Contract Services will update the Worktribe record to reflect its status. 

    Researchers, including Heads of Department and Faculty Deans are not able to sign research agreements on behalf of UCL as an institution. Contracts can only be approved and authorised (signed) by an authorised member of Research and Innovation Services, as per UCL's Financial Regulations.


      Contracts can take different amounts of time to conclude, depending on several factors such as the type and nature of the transaction, the information provided to Contract Services, and the number of parties involved and their responsiveness. 

      The overall time from initiation to the conclusion of a given research contract can be anything from 1-2 working days for a straightforward agreement on UCL’s template terms or longer for a larger multi-party collaboration agreement.