Partnerships with business, social and other partners offer opportunities to expand the potential of the idea as well as create the value chain for the R&D solution: from an idea to a complete solution for business or society. There are many forms of cooperation with partners. Each partnership is important because it opens up new opportunities for co-creation and in the end leads to the complementarity of experience and expertise, without which the value of R&D activities would be significantly smaller.
The specificities of R&D activities provide opportunities to solve unique problems of a business enterprise or a public sector organization. The long-term competitive advantage of the company or organization lies in its R&D-based innovation strategy. As a result, companies and organizations often choose university researchers’ teams for the achievement of their respective tasks.
Contract R&D guarantees the latest insights and suggestions from researchers addressing specific tasks of diverse scope and duration.
In order to protect the rights of researchers and the university, it is very important to sign a contract for R&D with a business customer. Contract R&D should include technical specification of the task and plan of activities. Most often, the provisions of the contract R&D agreement are standard. The regular agreement form for contract R&D in either Lithuanian or English is available here.
Innovation Office consults on organizing contract R&D, negotiating with companies, describing competencies of research teams, and match-making to gather interdisciplinary research teams to ensure multiple tasks of contract R&D are performed fully to the needs of the business partners.
Material Transfer Agreements
Material transfer agreements are common in academic practice when researchers, usually led by scientific purposes, plan to share materials with collaboration partners. Material transfer can also be part of the activities, aimed for the commercial purposes.
Material transfer agreement legally frame the terms and conditions that the receiver of the material (licensor) should respect, when using the material received from the owner (licensee). Material transfer agreements are important when facilitating research collaboration, simultaneously reducing any legal liability for the use of the material.
There are two types of material transfer - incoming and outgoing, therefore material transfer agreements should be modelled accordingly. When negotiating with partners for the transfer of materials that were generated at the University, it is important to define what materials are going to be transferred (e.g., chemical or biological) and under what terms and conditions.
Examples of material that are usually transferred can include (but are not limited to) the following:
• Cell lines
• Transgenic animals
• Other chemicals or materials from other fields.
Innovation Office can suggest standard terms and conditions for the material transfer agreement (MTA) in Lithuanian or English, review and estimate the material transfer agreement proposed by the University’s partners.
Licensing begins with financial evaluation of the developed knowledge, created technology or protected R&D solutions and the approval of essential terms to be negotiated. Negotiation position is very important when licensing R&D solutions, because licensing is not based on the standard terms. Certainly, license terms, such as granting exclusive or non-exclusive rights, definition of the products to be licensed, scope of the license, monetary license terms, validation term of the license agreement, the licensee's and the licensor's liability, etc. are also significant.
It is important to emphasize that licensing is a substantial form of science-business collaboration enabling further development of R&D solutions developed at the University. Licensing also allows correspondence of the needs of consumers and transferring university’s R&D solutions to already existing companies or start-ups that could open new markets. The licensing opportunities for computer programs, databases and software developed at the University are particularly noteworthy. Computer programs and databases are treated as copyrighted works, but in certain cases, the University's Intellectual Property Management and Investment Committee may recommend to invest into a computer program created at the University.
Open source software solutions require different types of actions, therefore we always recommend you to consult with us about the commercialization potential and market opportunities for the respective product.
Non-disclosure agreements are usually contracted between a university and a company in order to assess the potential for mutual collaboration and not to disclose confidential information to the third parties. Frequently, non-disclosure agreements are signed prior to the first negotiating meeting with the research team, in this way both the business and the research teams are free to talk about the specific topic. Non-disclosure agreements can open up the potential beginning of collaboration, presuming evaluation of opportunities and challenges for both – university and business enterprise. University, therefore, is acquainted with the spectrum of business challenges and plans for competitive advantage, whereas company familiarises with novel R&D solutions created at University, the spectrum and specifics of competences the university can provide.
Once long-term cooperation has been established, non-disclosure agreement with the business enterprise becomes an integral part of the cooperation, but sometimes it may depend on the company’s strategy and the extent of the confidential information and / or trade secret.
The original version of the non-disclosure agreement is usually offered by the business enterprise. However, Innovation Office can also suggest a model of the non-disclosure agreement for initiating business partnership. For example, it can be the starting point for licensing university-based technology or know-how or negotiating possible joint activities with business partner as well as the beginning of any other forms of long-term cooperation.
Typical non-disclosure agreement can be adapted to meet specific needs of the company, planned joint activities or adjustments proposed by business partner.
Collaborative R&D activities
When performing university R&D activities with business enterprises, research solutions accelerate and provide opportunities for their rapid application in the market. In this case, joint activities require cooperation during the time-span of joint activities, as well as respective resources of each party (human, financial, infrastructure, intangible, etc.) and mutual concept of sharing the results accordingly.
Vilnius University is an active partner in collaborative R&D activities and projects. In order to assess the necessary recourses for joint activities with partners, university has to consider its responsibilities for full-engagement in advance. Before investing resources (financial, human, intangible, etc.) for joint activities aimed at common R&D agenda (project, program, etc.), University's internal commission assesses the range of future commitment-related aspects.
Pre-commercial and innovative procurement
Lithuania is one of the leading countries that pays great attention to innovative solutions for society. University community has an excellent opportunity to offer its competencies or existing R&D solutions to social partners, who generate demand for innovative solutions in relevant sectors of society.
Currently, Lithuania legislation provides access to Innovative Public Procurement. Such type of procurement mean that public body, before purchasing an innovative product that does not yet exist in the market, consults suppliers on the most advanced project implementation solutions and selects the innovative solution or product that best suits contracting authority. One way to contribute solving important social challenges in the public sector is to participate in pre-commercial procurement or so-called state-commissioned R&D by offering necessary competencies, ideas and their implementation. The Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology manages pre-commercial procurement and announces ongoing pre-commercial procurements, in which researchers from Vilnius University can also participate as suppliers.
Researchers in business: industrial PhD
Industrial PhD is a form of cooperation with companies, where partnership is based on joint R&D activities focused on solving enterprise problems during the doctoral studies. Industrial PhD can be called a collaborative R&D project, since it includes collaboration stages such as mutually engaging in business problem solving, research planning addressed to solve these issues, their testing and deployment within the business enterprise environment.
For university researchers this is a direct path to apply R&D solutions developed during PhD studies. While studying at the university, PhD student has a unique opportunity to to get acquainted with business issues and company challenges. For supervisors from the university and from business company, consulting PhD student, industrial PhD may suggest a spectrum of new R&D themes, joint projects and other mutual activities. For a company - industrial PhD is an investment in search for the solutions to its strategic challenges.
It is important to note that industrial PhD is a form of mature and heterogeneous partnership, where exchange of ideas, complementarity of available resources and common goal based on the novelty and maximum applicability of R&D solutions prevail. Alongside to sustained partnership jointly implemented PhD studies include training of highly qualified professionals who are prepared to meet the needs of a particular company.
More information about the possibilities of industrial PhD studies can be provided by the Division of Doctoral and Postdoctoral Studies.
Open access to R&D services and facilities
The principle of open access to university-provided R&D services and R&D facilities within the university's academic departments enables business, social and other partners using R&D services and laboratory equipment according to the partners' needs.
Open access includes standardized R&D services or typical terms for partners with appropriate qualifications to use university’s laboratory equipment for their own needs. In this way, university’s academic units have opportunities to attract potential partners, to develop long-term partnerships, implement joint R&D activities and at the same time to reduce the costs of maintaining laboratories.
R&D services and R&D equipment are available at Open access R&D Services and Facilities Catalogue.
Innovation Office will assist you in describing R&D services and equipment available in your academic unit, calculating the cost of using such services and equipment, and will answer other questions related to organization of open access.
Partner networks are intertwined in many aspects and forms within local, regional and global science-business ecosystem. These may include networking on relevant topics, interdisciplinary partnerships, cluster formation to ensure value chains in the market, multilateral cooperation on projects or initiatives, etc.
Vilnius University participates in many associations and is involved in international initiatives and clusters. Networking with business, social, academic and other organizations is crucial to R&D activities, opening up opportunities for multilateral collaboration, new initiatives and community involvement in and for society.
It is important to note that Vilnius University participates in the activities of limited civil liability members, provided that the activities envisaged or pursued are consistent with the mission and objectives of the University as defined in the University Statute. The participation of the University in the activities of legal entities operating on the principle of membership is defined by the principles of public benefit, efficiency, rationality, accountability to the society and autonomy of economic activity. If membership of University in the activities of other legal entities requires entry or recurring membership fees, then membership decisions respectively shall be made by Academic Divisions, Rector or University Council,. Full terms and conditions for the University to join a limited civil liability membership can be found in the University Council Resolution No. T-2016-13-1 "Description of the Terms and Conditions for the Establishment, Participation and Investment in Private Limited Liability Legal Entities of Vilnius University"(adopted on Novermber 23rd, 2016).