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Building a Collaboration

A successful collaboration needs more than just a good idea. It needs a shared view of how to address a common challenge, and a degree of compromise to achieve this. A range of funding and mechanisms are available to lay the foundations for collaborative research.

Partnership Development Awards

Through the University’s Impact Acceleration Award, the EPSRC provides Partnership Development Awards to fund pilot projects with companies who have significant potential to become new business partners for the University.

Knowledge Transfer Fellowships and Knowledge Transfer Partnerships

Knowledge Transfer Fellowships (KTFs) and Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) can help build a broad research collaboration. Both involve secondment of an individual from the University to an external organisation, but duration and funding conditions differ between the two schemes. They can be used for both transferring results from the University to a sponsor, and for identifying new opportunities for research. KTPs also give the opportunities to recruit early stage researchers who are not ready to study for a PhD, while KTFs can provide partial funding for visitors from industry to join the Department to undertake pilot projects.

Confidentiality Disclosure Agreements

Confidentiality Disclosure Agreements, also known as Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs), are often needed quite early in discussions around collaborations. They allow conversations to take place concerning sensitive data or inventions that have not yet been patented. To protect the individual researchers involved, these are negotiated centrally by the Research Operations Office. Please do not sign if asked by a company to do so; they sometimes contain terms that are too broad and so are difficult for you to comply with.

Preparing budgets

The cost charged by the University depends on the funder’s terms and conditions, the rights to intellectual property granted and the type of staff and equipment needed. These can change the costs significantly, and it is vital to prepare a budget using X5 before discussing figures with potential sponsor as it is very difficult to raise the amount requested later in the process. Duncan McCord ( can provide advice on budgeting using X5 and sponsors’ specific conditions.

Cases for support and pathways to impact

Sponsors are increasingly asking that the 'Pathways to impact' are identified and addressed in proposals. This does not necessarily involve commercialisation of results- impact on the academic community is significant, and addressing research challenges that must be overcome before other research achieves impact is also valuable.

The Knowledge Transfer Facilitators can review pathways to impact statements and are available to discuss the possible options.

Suggestions to improve this page should be sent to Chris Pearson () in the first instance.