Research Management Plan Considerations when Performing Research with/for an Outside Entity (Non-Federal Funding)
Identify the Outside Entity.
Does Caltech have a business relationship with the Outside Entity beyond the research to be conducted?
If so, describe and address possible institutional conflicts of interest.
The Institute may, in some circumstances, consider accepting financial interest in a company in exchange for licenses to patents, present or future. The Institute must then be sensitive to potential institutional conflicts of interest. It cannot, for example, permit a faculty member, post doc, or graduate student to work on behalf of the company as part of the person's Institute duties. The Institute cannot accept research funds from the company except in the form of an unrestricted grant, unless arrangements are made to ensure that the research cannot be influenced by the financial interests of the Institute. When a company in which the Institute has substantial financial interest is chosen as a subcontractor to sponsored research, or as a licensee to a Caltech patent or copyright, care must be taken that the nature of the financial interest is fully disclosed to all relevant parties, and that sound, objective business reasons for choosing the company as a subcontractor or licensee are fully documented (Faculty Handbook).
Is there a PI for the Outside Entity? If so, is this PI for the Outside Entity a Caltech employee/faculty? What is the relationship between the Caltech PI and the Outside Entity, if any?
It is the responsibility of any faculty member who accepts outside obligations that might generate a conflict of interest, either with obligations to the Institute or obligations under federally financed research, to consult the Division Chair or the Provost for advice. (Faculty Handbook).
Is the Caltech PI performing research (i.e. contributing intellectually to the work being done) or merely providing data/results or lab facility use to the Outside Entity?
If the Caltech PI is not contributing intellectually (i.e. interpreting data and/or providing reports), then it is likely that Caltech is providing use of facilities or technical services to the outside entity. If this is the case, a facilities use or technical services agreement should be put in place.
Is there a clear distinction between the work done by the Outside Entity and the work performed at Caltech? Is the work being done at Caltech in line with Caltech's educational purpose?
Does the Caltech PI (or his/her immediate family) have an ownership interest in the Outside Entity? If so, what is the extent of the interest?
If the interest is significant, describe and address possible conflicts of interest.
Disclosure to the Division Chair is required if the faculty member is to receive sponsored support for research from a business for which the faculty member is a consultant, or in which the faculty member has a significant financial interest (Institute Policy on Conflicts of Interest). Neither the direction of Caltech research nor the interpretation of research results should be altered or appear to be altered by the commercial interests of a company. To help ensure this result, a PI must not have substantial holdings in a company that supports the professor's research, by any means other than an unrestricted grant to the PI's Division, or, if the PI is a Division Chair, to the Institute (Faculty Handbook). The current exception to this practice is in SBIR and STTR awards, where the PI's interest is not considered a significant financial interest (see Caltech's Managing Conflict of Interest Requirements under Federally Sponsored Awards and Guidance and Research Management Plan for SBIR/STTR Work).
Are any of the Outside Entity's management also Caltech employees or students?
The Outside Entity funds should not be used to support these persons' research activity at Caltech.
Student Participation: Will students or post-docs participate in this research?
If the faculty member has an ownership interest in the Outside Entity, any involvement of students or post-docs in this research should be approved in advance by the Division Chair and the student must sign a written disclosure to signify understanding of the issues involved (Institute Policy on Conflicts of Interest).
Any students or post-docs participating in this research should be apprised of any intellectual property or confidentiality terms that may affect their rights under Caltech policy or which may affect their progress toward a degree. Graduate students should familiarize themselves with Caltech's Policy on Conflict of Interest and Commitment with Regard to Outside Activities for Graduate Students found in the Caltech Catalog and Graduate Studies Office.
What Caltech facilities will be used?
Caltech laboratories should not perform specific commercially available tasks for the primary purpose of gaining income, nor should Caltech facilities be used to develop and commercialize a product. The Institute has certain unusual, or even unique, items of equipment or facilities for conducting tests and investigations of various kinds. When mutually advantageous arrangements can be agreed upon, and when the work cannot be conducted as well in the sponsor's own laboratories or in a commercial laboratory, such equipment or facilities may be used for conducting tests or investigations for outside agencies or the Institute may undertake to design, build and operate special facilities on a sponsored basis. (Faculty Handbook)
Are there any encumbrances or obligations imposed on use of the Caltech facilities that could impact this research?
Examples: Sharing facilities with other researchers working on other sponsored projects may raise Intellectual Property concerns (see #8). Bond financing of some research facilities may limit or restrict the type of research conducted in those facilities.
Is there any overlap between this research and other sponsored research?
What is the plan for allocation of resources among grants/contracts? How will the PI ensure that the design and conduct of the research is handled in a fair and objective way relative to each of the different sponsors and the sponsors' expectations? How and when will research results be reported to the Outside Entity and the other sponsors?
What is the disposition of intellectual property resulting from this research?
Is there any Caltech background intellectual property and how will it be used and/or licensed for this work?
Will the Outside Entity provide proprietary information/intellectual property?
If there are multiple sponsors, how will the intellectual property issues be addressed?
Research sponsored by an Outside Entity should have provisions in the sponsored research agreement that address these intellectual property concerns. Caltech's Office of Technology Transfer can provide a Disposition of Patent Rights Agreement or other intellectual property agreements, as needed.
Is the Outside Entity imposing delays or restricting publication in any way other than deferring publication for a limited period of time in order to file for patent protection?
Does the Outside Entity ask for more than an opportunity to review and comment on publications?
No outside organization has a right to delay submission or to refuse publication of research papers. Any such deferral will require concurrence from the Principal Investigator and the Vice Provost. (Faculty Handbook).
Has effort been appropriately allocated to this project?
Are reporting requirements being met?