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MRC Policy on academic-industry collaborations

When drawing up academic-industry collaborations, MRC welcomes the use of the Lambert agreement, launched in 2005, which is an online ‘toolkit’ of standard model contracts designed specifically to simplify university-business partnerships and research collaborations. Under the principles of good research governance, all collaborative research activities between academia and industry need to be carried out in an appropriate contractual framework. To help facilitate this, we have put in place the MICA form and a Heads of Terms, which should be completed by all applicants with an industrial collaborator(s).

The MICA form outlines the nature of the collaboration and the industrial partners’ contribution to the project and the heads of terms form asks applicants to outline arrangements such as principles of Intellectual Property (IP) management and distribution arrangements between the parties, key tasks and responsibilities of the partners, and project management arrangements. For further details on these forms, please visit our MICA page.

If the collaborative project involves clinical research, we encourage applicants to use the model Industry Collaborative Research Agreement (mICRA) listed on the NIHR's standard research agreements webpage, which builds on the Lambert agreement and was designed by the MRC, NIHR and ABPI to support clinical research collaborations involving the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, academia and NHS organisations in the UK. Using mICRA as a template agreement will help to improve and speed up negotiations around research contracts and agreements and provide guidance on IP issues.

We require IP arrangements to be agreed before a project starts and encourage a more relaxed attitude regarding protection of IP. We realise that time is a crucial factor for industry and negotiations around IP should not be allowed to drag out for too long, as this is likely to cause industry partners to withdraw.

The MRC Industry Charter 

The MRC is committed to ensuring that the world-leading research we support is translated into public benefit – whether in the form of advancements in knowledge, improvements in human health and/or economic growth.  Working with industry helps to accelerate these benefits by bringing together the “best of both” from industry and academic research.  Industry partners benefit from the research that we fund and the scientists we train, and in turn provide access to capabilities, scale and knowledge that often do not exist in the university sector.  Most importantly, the public benefits from this combination of scientific expertise, industry capacity and product-development know-how as research discoveries are translated into therapeutics, devices and technologies more quickly and effectively.

As a custodian of public funds, we set the highest standards of rigour, integrity and transparency in all of our work.  For decades, the MRC has taken the lead on developing and driving innovative academic/industry collaborations and the values that continue to underpin this engagement – integrity, clarity of purpose, independence and openness – have now been codified in our Industry Charter.  The Charter is not a comprehensive policy document but rather a framework of principles that set the basis for our engagement with industry.  It has been approved by the MRC’s Council.

Read the full MRC Industry Charter (PDF, 953KB).