Research Agreements

  • Please contact us at, if you need any support in research related agreements, sponsored/collaboration research agreement, sub-award agreement, Non-Disclosure, Material Transfer Agreements (MTAs) and Confidentiality.

    What do we need from you?

    • Your aspirations for the research and the potential outcomes;
    • What your collaborator(s) expect out of the project;
    • Whether it is likely that intellectual property (IP) will be created;
    • If you have negotiated anything with the collaborator that we should know about;
    • Whether there are any contentious issues;
    • Do you have a start date in mind, or is there any urgency for a particular start date;
    • The contact details of the collaborator(s).

    ​Contractual Issues

    What does an agreement cover?

    The purpose of any agreement is to clearly define both parties’ contribution to the project and specify how the project will be governed. Key aspects are protecting the university as well as the individual Principal Investigators rights and to minimize any risks. Typical aspects covered in contract negotiations are:

    • The scope of work defining the research to be carried out;
    • The deliverables, milestones and timescale of the research; 
    • The cost of the research to be performed (the project budget);
    • The price charged for the research, frequency of payments and how they are to be administered;
    • How to manage IP rights and potential commercialization issues (license terms);
    • Publication rights, including students’ theses;
    • Limitation of liability for the research conducted;
    • Reporting requirements and compliance issues.

Grants' Terms and Conditions

  • ​Research Services also checks the acceptability of all grants awarded to the University. Each type of grant requires approval from senior management, so Research Services check the terms and conditions at application stage to ensure that KAUST will be able to accept an award if the application is successful. Once a grant agreement has been signed, Research Services produces a summary factsheet for the Principal Investigator informing him/her of the main features of the grant. ​​

Contract Amendments

  • ​Research Services handles all amendments of existing research contracts and agreements, including no-cost extensions and project transfers to or from other institutions if a Principal Investigator leaves/joins KAUST. Principal Investigators should bear in mind that incurred costs can only be charged to a project within the contractual project duration, so if someone is behind schedule in a project, the Principal Investigator needs to contact Research Services to apply for a no-cost extension, otherwise no costs are reimbursable after the original project end date.

Obtaining Internal Approvals and Authorized Signatures

  • ​Research Services leads on all negotiations relating to research grants and contracts. Where required by internal procedures, Research Services will liaise with General Counsel and/or Technology Management  to obtain all approvals required before a contract can be signed. Research Services will then arrange for signature of a contract in accordance with the approved Delegation of Authority. Please note that either Principal Investigator or Faculty are not authorized to enter into research contracts with other institutions on behalf of KAUST. Along with this website, please refer to the Awards and Contracts Procedure manual for further information.


  • ​​Price is not the same as cost – your cost what is incurred to carry out the research project, including direct cost (e.g. personnel, consumables, equipment) and indirect cost (e.g. laboratory maintenance, electricity). The price is what you charge to a sponsor. Only pre-award at is authorized to provide the  breakdown of cost to a sponsor when quoting a price, please contact pre-award team for any budget request.


  • KAUST's research policy is aimed at the unrestricted, rapid and open dissemination of research results as part of the institution's academic mission. Where appropriate, KAUST will provide industrial sponsors with copies of proposed publications and allow a brief delay to the publication of research results to enable the filing of patent applications or the taking of other steps to protect research results. Research Services will negotiate to protect the researchers' right to publish to ensure that full publication, with the exception of confidential information, is possible with minimal delay. The University Executive Committee has determined in its Policy on Industry-Sponsored Research (19 February 2011) that such a delay may not exceed 90 days. If the sponsor has different requirements, Research Services must consider how far these are compatible with the University's educational mission, and obtain the necessary approvals.

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)

  • ​All IPR provisions in a research contract are subject to the KAUST IP Policy which aims to protect the academic freedom of the institution’s researchers to publish and give them the freedom work with any sponsor on any topic, as well as KAUST’s duty to ensure that new technology is fully commercialized in the Kingdom and MENA. Research Services, in close liaison with Technology Management, negotiates favorable IPR terms in order to address the researcher's and sponsor's needs.

Data, Databases and Software

  • ​​Often in collaborative projects, a major part of the project results are collected data or databases. These are subject to copyright and database rights, which need to be covered in an agreement, even if it is just for academic purposes. Increasingly, software is to be published under Open Source Software (OSS) licenses as a condition of the sponsor’s funding terms – Research Services can advise you on which OSS license to choose.

Confidentiality Issues

  • ​Confidentiality clauses have to address potential sponsor requirement’s to protect their proprietary information, while at the same time assuring not to jeopardize the individual researcher’s rights to publish. Research Services negotiates a limitation of confidentiality to protect background IP and proprietary sponsor information only.  Typically the period of protection would not extend 5 years.


  • ​​Principal Investigators ought to think carefully about whether or not their project requires any subcontracting.  Often sponsors do not allow for subcontracting and expect the University to carry out all aspects of the project. Any subcontractor usually needs to be approved by the sponsor prior to taking up the subcontracted work, and the funds allocated to a subcontractor need to be specifically identified in the project budget. Subcontractors also require a written subcontract from Research Services that incorporates the terms and conditions of the sponsor’s agreement with KAUST.

Liability Issues

  • ​​​It is important in any agreement to clearly define liability. In particular any agreement will usually state that research results cannot be guaranteed. Furthermore individual Principal Investigators, research groups and/or KAUST cannot be held liable for another party’s use of the research results nor are not responsible for another party’s indirect loss arising from the research. KAUST would also request a cap its financial liability for any losses or damages. It may be necessary to negotiate additional limits on the researcher’s or KAUST's liability for specific projects on a case-by-case basis. Projects with higher than normal risks may require additional insurance cover.


  • ​​​Any research agreement needs to consider the possibility of early termination.  An agreement would generally ensure reasonable notice to be given by either side, especially with a view to safeguarding researchers employed on such an external grant.