Categories of research collaboration with external parties

The University Act distinguishes between four overall types of research collaboration with private and public sector companies, organisations, commercial foundations and government authorities. These distinctions are important, because the kind of influence and participation available to an external party depends on what type of collaboration is involved.

The ground rules and the central principles apply in all collaborations with external parties. This also applies to collaborations that cannot be easily assigned to one of the four categories.


CO-FUNDED RESEARCH

Definition:

Co-funded research is a collaboration between a university and at least one external party. The parties define the scope of the collaborative project together, and both contribute to carrying it out. Co-funded research projects contribute to the university’s main tasks (research and education).

Results generated wholly or in part by AU researchers belong to the university, and publication without restraint must be possible. The university co-funds the project (financially or by contributing manhours). 


Example of co-funded research:

AU and an external party are collaborating on a joint research project. The project supports AU's main task and is of research interest to AU. The project is an example of genuine collaboration, as both parties have helped to define the project and as both parties contribute to the project.  AU owns the results generated by AU itself and a share of the results generated jointly with the external party. However, the external party may demand to be granted a first option to negotiate a commercial licence for AU's results in the form of inventions/utility models/software on market terms. AU is free to publish its own results and results generated jointly, but the external party may demand to review and comment on the draft publication and may demand postponement of the planned publication for three months in order to safeguard intellectual property rights. AU is self-insured against any liability claims pertaining to execution of the project and does not assume any performance obligation.

 

  • AU may co-fund the project and can receive financial support for the research from the external party in the project or from another funder.
  • A collaboration agreement must be concluded between AU and the external partner on the co-funded research project.

Proceed to part 3: Procedures for responsible conduct of research and freedom of research in collaboration with external parties – co-funded research

COMMISSIONED RESEARCH AND OTHER INCOME-GENERATING ACTIVITIES

Definition: 

The university may carry out commissioned research projects or research services for an external party within activity areas that are natural extensions of the university’s normal activities. All of the university’s costs must be borne by the external party. Ownership of results and publication rights must be defined in the collaboration agreement.


Example of commissioned research and other income-generating activities: 

AU undertakes to test a product for an external party. The project is a natural extension of AU's normal activities. The project is not of research interest to AU. The external party may demand that the test results and any associated intellectual property rights (inventions, etc.) be transferred to the external party without separate payment, and that AU keep these specific results confidential. AU retains ownership of new knowledge about any test methods developed by AU in connection with the execution of the project, and AU is free to publish these results. 

 

  • The project is categorised as commissioned research or other income-generating activities due to the requirement for the transfer of ownership of test results without separate payment and the requirement for confidentiality regarding test results.
  • AU must receive payment from the external party on market terms (full direct costs plus the applicable overhead rate (In Danish only) for commissioned research).
  • A collaboration agreement must be entered into between AU and the external party/requisitioner. 


Example of commissioned research and other income-generating activities: 

AU submits a bid for a research project to an external party in connection with a public tendering procedure. The tendering authority/the external party may demand that AU transfer its ownership of status reports, final reports and other project data. However, AU will retain the right of use to publish the final report subsequent to its approval by the external party. AU assumes an obligation to take out insurance in connection with the execution of the project.

 

  • Work subject to competitive tendering (public procurement) is considered commissioned research or other income-generating activities.
  • The project is to be categorised as commissioned research or other income-generating activities if the external party demands one or more of the following terms: i) requirement for approval of publications; ii) requirement for transfer of ownership of reports and other project data; and iii) requirement to take out insurance.
  • AU must receive payment from the external party on market terms (full direct costs plus the applicable overhead rate (In Danish only) for commissioned research).
  • A collaboration agreement must be entered into between AU and the external party/requisitioner.


Proceed to part 3: Procedures for responsible conduct of research and freedom of research in collaboration with external parties – commissioned research and other income-generated activities

UNCONDITIONAL GRANTS, DONATIONS AND DEEDS OF GIFT

Definition: 

A financial contribution is made to a researcher or to the university to support research. All conditions must be clearly described.

In case of unconditional grants (aside from standard requirements for reporting, bookkeeping, information on changes, etc.) the notice of award will normally suffice as a written agreement.

If the funder attaches special demands to the grant, the collaboration is then classified as co-funded research or commissioned research and other income-generating activities
 


Example of unconditional donation: 

A researcher from AU applies to a foundation for a grant of DKK 1 million for a research project. The amount will be paid to AU at the start of the project and must be spent within 12 months. It must be documented that the grant has been used for the project applied for. This documentation must consist of a final report for the project as well as financial accounts of the funds used, which must be submitted no later than one month after the end of the project. In other words, the funder attaches no conditions to the grant other than for standard reporting and for the amount to be spent within a specific period. The above example also applies to an IRFD grant.

  • The notice of award from the foundation will normally suffice as a written agreement.

Proceed to part 3: Procedures for responsible conduct of research and freedom of research in collaboration with external parties – unconditional grants, donations and deeds of gift

RESEARCH-BASED PUBLIC SECTOR CONSULTANCY

Definition: 

Research-based public sector consultancy is an umbrella term for a variety of research services the university performs for the Danish state, the Danish municipalities and companies. Framework agreements are concluded between the universities and the individual ministries. Research results must be made accessible to the public.


Example of a standard public sector consultancy project: 

A project from the Danish Agricultural Agency, Ministry of Environment and Food of Denmark (MFVM), under the 2019-2023 framework agreement between AU and MFVM, 2019-2023 service agreement plant production, Work programme project 3.14 ‘Nitrification inhibitors under Danish conditions’ (in Danish).

The project is planned as part of the work programme and will be submitted to DCA as an order in accordance with MFVM’s procedure ‘Den gode bestilling’ (the good order). DCA will then pass the project on to the previously appointed contact person at AGRO and any other relevant researchers. See page 7 of the 2019 work programme – plant production (in Danish)


Example of a public sector consultancy task outside of the framework agreement: 

A project commissioned from ENVS by the Municipality of Copenhagen in the autumn of 2019 entitled  ‘Concentration profile across H.C. Andersens Boulevard, Copenhagen’ (in Danish). In this case, the Municipality of Copenhagen contacts ENVS, who involves DCE, so that the formalities are in place. Read the memo after the project (in Danish). 


Proceed to part 3: Procedures for responsible conduct of research and freedom of research in collaboration with external parties – research-based public sector consultancy

DEFINITION: EXTERNAL PARTIES

In this context, ‘external parties’ refers to legal entities other than Aarhus University.

These ground rules do not apply to national and international research collaboration with other universities unless funding is received for the collaboration or a party has rights to the results of the collaboration. In this context, results should be understood as intellectual property rights/IP. In Part 3 - Procedures you will find information about when it is necessary to enter into an agreement.