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Key details about the R&D projects for businesses

Applications are open for collaborative research projects of up to one year in duration. There are three methods of delivering these collaborative R&D projects. These offer different resources with different implications for the business. It is important that the right choice is made for your business. All business partners are encouraged to read and appreciate the implications of embarking upon an application for support through each of these R&D routes:

  • Masters by Research post
  • Student project based within a taught undergraduate or postgraduate course
  • Student internship

Details of how these differ are set out below

For all projects delivered by students of the universities, the researchers do not become employees of the business and remain governed by the rules and regulations of their university. The business partner nevertheless has responsibility for ensuring that there are adequate health and safety arrangements in place to ensure the safety of the researcher whilst working on a project they have conceived.

Masters by Research project

The researcher

A project undertaken on the basis of a Masters by Research provides the SME with a suitably qualified graduate researcher to work full time on their project for a period of one year. At the end of their time the researcher will write a dissertation with a view to submitting this for examination for a Masters qualification by research. The researcher will be expected to spend approximately 1600 hours working on the project over the course of the year.

The centre will advertise this post in order to recruit the best candidates and business partners are encouraged to participate in the selection and interview process.

The Graduate Researcher will be paid a tax free stipend of £13724 for this work (equivalent to a salary of approximately £18,000). In addition there is a R&D budget provided to support research consumables, testing, initial prototype development, travel & subsistence to the value of £2000.

Will support from the centre cost my company anything?

The business partner is expected to contribute £2000 towards the Graduate Researcher Tuition fees and this is payable at the start of the project. A letter is required at full application confirming that this is sum will be paid by the business.

If your research project requires the building of prototypes or extensive travel for testing, it is expected that the business will cover the cost of these specific project related expenses. In certain cases it may be that with the support of Inventya, applications can be made for funds from additional sources for prototype development or proof of concept, to support the commercialisation of the R&D work.

The process

There are relatively few opportunities for projects to be undertaken as a Masters by Research and the application for these projects is a two-step application process requiring further project details to be provided after initial screening. It is anticipated that the process will be competitive. Once a full project brief has been agreed, the post will be advertised competitively and the business is invited to participate in the final appointment.

Timing

It is expected that most full year research projects will start in October. In order to ensure that the project is developed, linked with the appropriate academic departments and a graduate recruited by competitive process these projects should be developed no later than June.

Where can the researcher work?

The researcher can work on projects which require spells of time at the university, using university facilities or at the business. During the process it is quite acceptable for the researcher to be based for a period at either location depending upon the nature of the work being undertaken. Overall, however, for Masters by Research projects paid by stipend, the time spent working at the business must be less than 50% of the time overall in order to comply with rules on taxation.

State Aid implications

The support of a full time researcher for a year is granted as "State Aid" under the de minimis exemption, which allows an SME to benefit from up to 200,000 Euros of aid in a rolling three year period.

Any de minimis aid granted over the 200,000 euro limit may be subject to repayment with interest.

The estimated total value of the support provided through a full time one year Masters by research project is £40,000 (approx. 45,000 Euros) and the exact value will be declared to the company as de minimis aid following the project conclusion.

Will the company have full commercial rights to use of the IP generated by collaboration?

Yes. For the full year intensive research projects, the funding which is being used to support collaborative projects requires the participating university to take ownership of intellectual property arising out of collaborative projects. Access to this IP will be provided, via an exclusive, royalty-free licence to the participating company. This exclusive and royalty-free license will apply for as long as the rights are in existence, providing the university partner is satisfied that the company is exploiting the intellectual property. If following an initial period of four years the company cannot demonstrate use of the IP in a new product or service development, the licence will terminate.

Background intellectual property of any collaborating party will remain the property of that party. Its use in collaborative projects will be provided on a royalty-free basis. No project will be developed using background IP already licensed exclusively to a party outside the project.

How will I know what is covered by the arrangements?

Once the researcher has been appointed it is expected that a graduate researcher agreement will be signed by all parties detailing the formal arrangements under which the project will operate. This contract details the formal agreement and responsibilities of the parties.

Student projects within the context of a course

The researcher

The project will be undertaken by a researcher as part of the course of studies that they are undertaking. The researcher may be on an undergraduate or postgraduate course of study and the research project forms a core part of their degree. Each project is supervised by one or more of our leading academic staff and is undertaken by a knowledgeable student on an appropriate degree course who is recruited to undertake the project.

The project is undertaken over a period which could be from 3 month to approaching a year and typically taking some 600 hours of work. The research and conclusions are written up as a dissertation.

Recruitment is a competitive process, and ultimately there is no guarantee that each and every project will find a suitably qualified applicant. Businesses are encouraged to write their project proposal in such a way as to make the project attractive to the best candidates. Unfortunately there is no guarantee that all projects can be matched with a candidate.

Will support from the centre cost my company anything?

There is no cost to you for the time of university personnel. If your research project requires the building of prototypes or extensive travel for testing, it is expected that the business will cover the cost of these specific project related expenses.

Timing

Timing of the research does need to fit with the academic calendar, which will vary according to the actual course and department. For many projects the projects need to be formally tabled in the summer for selection in the Autumn, with the actual research following on after Christmas. The best projects are usually those which a business has always wanted to do but never found the time or resource to undertake. It is recommended that businesses do not offer up time critical projects because of the constraints of the academic calendar.

Where can the researcher work?

The researcher can work on projects which require spells of time at the university, using university facilities or at the business. When working with any business we will need to be re-assured that there is appropriate Health and Safety consideration and insurances in place.

State Aid implications

The support of a full time researcher for a year is granted as a State Aid under the de minimis exemption, which allows an SME to benefit from up to 200,000 Euros of aid in a rolling three year period.

Any de minimis aid granted over the 200,000 euro limit may be subject to repayment with interest.

The estimated value of the support provided through a student project or through the commercialisation support of Inventya is estimated not to exceed £6000 (approx. 7000 Euros) and the exact value will be declared to the company following the project conclusion.

Will the company have full commercial rights to use of the IP generated by collaboration?

Yes. Background intellectual property of any collaborating party will remain the property of that party. Its use in collaborative projects will be provided on a royalty-free basis.

These shorter term research projects (of up to one year) are likely to be based upon incremental development of existing background IP. In these shorter term projects any developments of the IP will be assigned to the company.

The terms and conditions of use of IP are incorporated into the terms and conditions of a contractual agreement between the participating company and the participating university, so there is no lack of clarity about these issues.

How will I know what is covered by the arrangements?

Once the researcher has been appointed and the project has been clarified a studentship agreement or beneficiary proposal is entered into to clarify the work that is to be undertaken and the terms of that work.

Student Internship

The researcher

The project will be undertaken by a paid researcher outside the course of studies that they are undertaking. The researcher may be on an undergraduate or postgraduate course of study providing them with appropriate expertise and understanding. The research work however is done outside of the course of study as a paid internship. The post is advertised in a competitive process and the most appropriate candidate appointed. The business partner is invited to participate in the selection of the candidate. Upon appointment the researcher becomes an employee of the university for the duration of the project. The researcher is paid through the Centre on an hourly basis as agreed and defined at the point of recruitment.

The project is undertaken over a period which typically is over 3 month period and comprises up to 140 hours of research. The research and conclusions are written up as a report for the company in a format to be agreed at the outset of the project.

Will support from the centre cost my company anything?

There is no cost to you for the time of university personnel. If the research project requires the building of prototypes or extensive travel for testing, it is expected that the business will cover the cost of these specific project related expenses.

Timing

Timing of internships does not need to fit with the academic calendar. There is therefore more flexibility with this option over the timing of delivery. The projects are not restricted to vacations however, in term time it is not usually anticipated that the student can spend more than 12 hours per week on a project.

Where can the researcher work?

The researcher can work on projects which require spells of time at the university, using university facilities or at the business. When working with any business we will need to be re-assured that there is appropriate Health and Safety consideration and insurances in place.

State Aid implications

The support of a full time researcher for a year is granted as a State Aid under the de minimis exemption, which allows an SME to benefit from up to 200,000 Euros of aid in a rolling three year period.

Any de minimis aid granted over the 200,000 euro limit may be subject to repayment with interest.

The estimated value of the support provided through an internship project or through the commercialisation support of Inventya is estimated not to exceed £6000 (approx. 7000 Euros). The value of the support will be declared to the business following the project conclusion.

Will the company have full commercial rights to use of the IP generated by collaboration?

Yes. Background intellectual property of any collaborating party will remain the property of that party. Its use in collaborative projects will be provided on a royalty-free basis.

These shorter term research projects (of up to one year) are likely to be based upon incremental development of existing background IP. In these shorter term projects any developments of the IP will be assigned to the company.

The terms and conditions of use of IP are incorporated into the terms and conditions of a contractual agreement between the participating company and the participating university, so there is no lack of clarity about these issues.

How will I know what is covered by the arrangements?

Once the researcher has been appointed and the project has been clarified a studentship agreement or beneficiary proposal is entered into to clarify the work that is to be undertaken and the terms of that work.