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Sponsored Research Agreement

A Sponsored Research Agreement (SRA) is a contract between the University of Houston (UH) and a non-federal sponsor to fund a sponsored project at UH. Before the agreement is signed by both parties (fully executed), it must be reviewed and, if necessary, negotiations take place to ensure that the terms and conditions of the agreement are mutually acceptable to both parties. Research Contract Officers in the Office of Contract and Grants (OCG) are responsible for negotiating sponsored project agreements in collaboration with the Principal Investigator (PI). During the negotiation stage, appropriate communication and follow-up are crucial to ensuring a prompt and successful final agreement.

The chart below outlines the procedural steps, responsible person/office, and the timeline associated with the negotiation of Sponsored Research Agreement.

Steps Responsible Office or Person Timing

Send the initial agreement that is related to an approved transmittal, with a complete Scope of Work (SOW), budget, and a schedule for payment(s), to the general contracts email address

Principal Investigator (PI)

Pre-Award Administrator

At least 30 days before the anticipated award start date

Log in the agreement, link it with the proposal transmittal and assign it to the DOR Contracts Officer

OCG Research Contracts Team

Immediately upon receipt of agreement
Review the agreement taking into consideration feedback and comments from the Research Administrator and the PI

OCG Research Contracts Officer

2-6 days

Negotiate the terms and conditions of the Agreement that are in conflict with UH Policy and Practice and Texas State law

OCG Research Contracts Officer

Principal Investigator (PI)

Other Party or Sponsor

2 weeks or up to 1 month depending on the complexity of the negotiation
If necessary, route the agreement to the Office of Technology Transfer and Innovation (OTTI) (when it involves negotiating significant changes to UH intellectual property standard terms). Executive Director, Director of Licensing, or the Technology Transfer Associate in the Office of Technology Transfer and Innovation (OTTI)

2-5 days depending on the extent of the changes needed and dependent on where the agreement is in the que; stringent sponsor terms may prolong negotiations

Route the agreement for signature to the PI (read and understood) and the OCG Authorized Signatory

Research Contracts Officer Assistant

Upon completion of review and negotiation

Send partially executed agreement to the other party for execution and follow up for fully executed copy if one is not returned immediately

Research Contracts Officer Assistant

1-5 days

Notify PI, update log, assign to the appropriate RA to begin Award Setup when the fully executed agreement is returned

OCG Post Award RA

Research Contracts Officer Assistant

At least 15 days before projected start date

Negotiation Timelines

To reduce the time required for agreement negotiation, UH recommends using its standard Sponsored Research Agreement as the template for research agreements with private industry sponsors. Principal Investigators should present this option to collaborators, and UH Contract Officers will propose this agreement to the sponsor. When the UH standard agreement is used, the negotiation steps listed above are no longer necessary.

When a sponsor chooses to use its own contract or negotiate changes to UH standard agreement, the process may take longer and sometimes even longer when the IP terms are altered. In those instances, a Sponsored Research Agreement (SRA) can take several months to negotiate and therefore requires a longer lead time. Particularly difficult negotiations can take up to 4-6 months and sometimes even longer.

Following up and Communication

Preliminary discussions regarding a proposed sponsored project may begin long before the sponsor is ready to establish a SRA. However, OCG cannot move forward with negotiation until the approved proposal transmittal has been initiated and routed for approval. After the agreement is logged into the system with OCG, the contracts log will be reviewed for pending agreements once a week, and follow up emails for a status update are sent to the PI and the other party as needed.