Engaging in Research


NDSU has an impressive array of highly qualified and skilled faculty, staff and student researchers, conducting basic and applied research in a wide variety of disciplines. Our discoveries advance scientific knowledge, help industry and companies succeed in the marketplace, and serve to benefit citizens of our state and society as a whole.

Industrial Sponsored Research

Industrial sponsored research is undertaken by university personnel and students to address a problem, issue or need that has been identified by the sponsor.  Projects may involve basic or applied research and are aimed at discovery and interpretation of facts, development of new analytical and experimental protocols or practical application of new theories, analysis, data gathering and experiments. 

A sponsor is entitled to utilize the results and any technology that is developed during the research project for their internal research purposes.  In the event a patentable technology (invention) is developed in the course of the research project, ownership of that invention would be determined by inventorship, in accordance with US Patent Law.

A sponsor is always provided with prompt notice of any invention and receives the first option to license such invention for its own commercial purposes.  NDSU would retain the right to publish the results of the research project and utilize the invention for teaching and research purposes.

Although an industrial sponsor may desire a specific outcome that benefits its operations, NDSU cannot guarantee a specific outcome or warranty the results of any research project.

The following information provides an overview of available research programs and contracting options for engaging NDSU in research endeavors.  

Sponsored Research Project with Defined Scope of Work

 The Industry Sponsored Research Agreement, which has been used by the university for many years, is a straightforward contract that addresses the issues inherent in sponsoring basic research and is suitable for a wide variety of projects.  This traditional contract includes intellectual property (IP) terms that are consistent with federal policy and prevailing higher education practices and provides sponsors with exclusive rights to commercialize any technology that is developed in the performance of the research.  A sample agreement template is available for review. 

For applied research projects, NDSU can, upon approval from the identified researchers, offer alternative licensing options which include a limited term non-exclusive royalty free (NERF) agreement* to evaluate the technology, a NERF agreement with the time-limited option for an exclusive, royalty-bearing license*, and an advanced license agreement that includes present licensing terms*.  Additional information about these alternative licensing agreements is available by clicking on the buttons below.

Agreement for General Research Support

The Express Research Agreement* provides a company with a simple way to support research within a particular field at NDSU. This one-page document covers the basic terms for the research funding. The sponsor receives an option to negotiate a license to commercialize any technology that is developed in the performance of the research and will receive a technical report at the conclusion of the research.  Sponsor will also be acknowledged in any publication that results from the research. 

*These contract templates and licensing options may not be used for projects which utilize any federal funding. If a sponsor is using any federal funds to support a proposed research project, the applicable federal terms and conditions will apply to any sub-award issued to NDSU.  

Industrial Consortium

University Consortia are partnerships between the university, industry, government, and/or foundations developed to address issues of mutual interest to members who generally operate within the same industry.  University research undertaken as part of consortium is designed to tackle emerging needs or common problems faced by consortium members rather than being focused on the needs of a specific member.  While IP developed under an industrial consortium is normally available for all consortium members to use, how IP is handled within a given consortia is defined within the specific Consortium Agreement.

Industrial Consortiums at NDSU include:

  • Center for Bioplastics and Biocomposites - CB2
  • NDSU Computer Science Industry/University Consortium Program 
  • North Dakota Partner in Nursing (PIN) Gerontology Consortium 
  • Center for Quality, Reliability and Maintainability Engineering

Testing Services

Within their scope of employment, NDSU personnel can provide certain services which

  • require use of unique or special NDSU facilities that either do not exist elsewhere or are not readily available, or  
  • are performed pursuant to a sponsor developed protocol and require the use of the sponsor's proprietary materials, or
  • involve established, pre-existing methods of a primarily technical nature which do not require original, creative thought.

These services do not involve any expert analysis or discretionary judgement and can be provided under NDSU's Testing Service Agreement or through a NDSU Service Center.  A project that requires the development of new methodologies, new tools, or any analysis/interpretation of results would be considered a research project rather than a testing service.

The Testing Services Agreement is a non-negotiable contract used for measuring, testing or fabricating company-owned materials. Ownership of the testing results and any inventions which involve the use of, composition of, or improvement to company-provided materials or information, or a derivative, analogue thereof will be owned by the company.  NDSU publication rights are limited to only new scientific findings. An investigator must agree to the use of the TSA and is required to be submitted an Investigator Agreement (Investigator Agreement) with all internal routing forms for Testing Services projects.  The Investigator Agreement addresses Conflict of Interest, publication and intellectual property issues associated with service activities.

Contract Research

NDSU, as a land grant institution, has three missions: the education of students, the creation of new knowledge, and the dissemination of knowledge.  As such, NDSU does not perform Contract Research Services under the direction of its industry partners.

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