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Pricing & Negotiating Research Contracts with Industry

Research involving industry is an area in which UCL must take particular care to act in accordance with its charitable remit. As a publicly-funded institution it is crucial that UCL does not subsidise commercial interests through under-costing its activities or offering discounted pricing.

Research Services has a wealth of experience in supporting academics in the pricing and negotiation of research agreements with commercial partners and clients. Consequently, UCL is able to undertake a wide variety of activities, including sponsored collaborations, joint consortium arrangements, industrial studentships, as well as contract research.

Regulatory framework

In common with most British higher education institutions, UCL is a charity that is subject to regulation by charity law. UCL and may only act in ways that are consistent with its charitable objectives and ultimately for the benefit of the general public.  

UCL’s charitable objectives, as set out in its Royal Charter, are "to provide education and courses of study in the fields of Arts, Laws, Pure Sciences, Medicine and Medical Sciences, Social Sciences and Applied Sciences and in such other fields of learning as may from time to time be decided upon by the College and to encourage research in the said branches of knowledge and learning and to organise, encourage and stimulate postgraduate study in such branches."

In practice

The best and timeliest outcomes are achieved when collaboration between academic and Research Services colleagues is established at an early stage, before substantial discussions have begun with the funder or commercial partner.

UCL’s policy for pricing commercially-funded research contracts provides academics and their departments with a degree of flexibility within certain specified parameters.  These parameters are established to ensure that UCL is able to satisfy its regulators that the decision to undertake a particular research activity is reasonable and justifiable with respect to its remit.

The appropriate pricing of a project is guided by three core principles:

  • Cost: The financial and in-kind resources that UCL would contribute to the proposed project;
  • Value: The benchmarked market value for the research activities to be carried out.
  • Outputs: Various factors pertaining to the outputs of the project. These are outlined during the negotiation process, and usually relate to Intellectual Property rights, publication rights, etc.

The specific details of UCL's pricing policy are highly confidential, and academic colleagues are encouraged to engage with Research Services at the earliest possible stage to ensure that proposals are correctly and reasonably priced.