OSU Advantage supports industry collaboration by managing commercial agreements and intellectual property matters that are often central to industry competitiveness. An important priority at OSU is to increase our relationships with industry. Oregon State faculty are recognized experts in their fields, and their research spans from basic research to applied problem-solving that can impact business innovation.

Working with OSU, industry partners get significant benefits:

  • World-class faculty with diverse experience in basic and applied research.
  • Students ready to use what they’ve learned in real-world application and become a pool of experienced, skilled, career-ready graduates.
  • State-of-the-art laboratories and specialized equipment for research, development and testing.
  • Fair labor rates with minimal overhead.

Working with Oregon State University 

As a public research institution, OSU is able to leverage its favorable tax status and reputation to generate, low-cost, world class research.  To maintain its public research status and integrity, OSU engages in industry contracting with the following principles in tact:

  • OSU has a public duty to publish its research results without restriction;
  • Generally, OSU retains ownership of intellectual property created by OSU employees; and
  • OSU operates within established rules and norms expected of United States public research institutions.

When a company wants to engage OSU in a research contract, we offer two approaches that we have found through experience to be highly beneficial:  The “Standard Contracting Model” and the “Alternative IP Model,” both described below.

Standard Contracting Model

With the standard contracting model, industry sponsors can:

  • Define research objectives with clear milestones and schedules with fixed priced invoicing.
  • Protect their confidential information from unauthorized disclosure or use.
  • Conduct a review process of all publications prior to release.
  • Obtain a non-exclusive, royalty-free license to all intellectual property generated from the research results.
  • Enjoy an option to negotiate a royalty-bearing, exclusive-license to intellectual property generated from the research project.

Alternative IP Contracting Model

For some industry sponsored projects, at additional cost, it is possible for industry partners to obtain exclusive patent rights up front, rather than negotiating for them after project completion.

OSU can offer this prepaid exclusive patent option when:

  • The sponsored research will be conducted in a building that is permitted for private benefit sponsor engagements.  (When portions of buildings are built or maintained using tax-free bonds, those buildings are typically restricted against private benefit uses.)
  • The principal investigator and his/her Dean or direct superior agree to accept the possible limitations on future research that may result from an exclusive license and related terms and conditions.

The cost of the prepaid option to the sponsor is:

  • An upfront, nonrefundable fee equivalent to 25% of the total cost (direct costs + indirect costs) or fixed price of sponsored (contracted) research (minimum fee is $18,750, which is  25% of $75K), and
  • Reimburse OSU for all incurred patent expenses including patent application filing fees and out-pocket legal expenses.

In addition, when feasible and reasonably needed, OSU can and will:

  • Negotiate based on contract proposal of our sponsor.  We also have our own templates but don’t force our sponsors to start negotiations using it.
  • Accept unique compliance requirements and develop process plans for them.  Note, the more lead-time our faculty and cognizant contract offices have to plan and prepare for such requirements, the more likely we can accept.  
  • Permit sponsors to draft patent applications for patentable results. If OSU is the sole employer of all the inventors, OSU will need to confirm and accept the contents of the patent application.
  • Assign patent ownership rights to sponsors when all claims and the specification of the patent application completely conform to the agreed field of use. 

Frequently asked questions (FAQ) about industry-sponsored research at Oregon State

Certainly! OSU actively encourages sponsors to review manuscripts before they are publicly disclosed to identify any information confidential or proprietary to the company, or any inventions that should be filed for protect before research results are published.  Our faculty members work constructively with each of our sponsors to ensure that patents are filed and proprietary information of the sponsor will not be unintentionally disclosed. 

Yes of course!  Sponsors receive a non-exclusive, royalty-free license to commercially use any inventions conceived or copyrightable items created by OSU during the sponsored research project.

Absolutely!  OSU provides industry sponsors an option to negotiate an exclusive license to patentable inventions and copyrightable software conceived or created during the sponsored research project. Note that tax rules and our standard practices for licensing generally preclude OSU from agreeing to royalties in advance, but once the intellectual property is conceived or created, we can begin discussion on specific, exclusive licensing terms and conditions.    

Oregon State University: Key Terms and Rates for Industry Sponsored Research

Term, Condition, Fees

OSU generates low-cost, world-class research. Depending on the company need, we've developed two models that provide valuable results for companies at an equitable cost, while staying within the mission of the university.

Standard Agreement

OSU's standard contracting model is used when a company does not require exclusive rights to the research results - for example, in research that is not expected to produce intellectual property (e.g. patents) or would not directly impact the company's product development strategy.

Alternative Agreement

OSU's alternative model may be more appropriate when research is likely to produce an invention, or the research directly pertains to the sponsor's core business strategy. Due to IRS tax free bonding in many of our buildings and potential future research limitations posed, this model may not be available for all projects. we will work with your company and the OSU research team to find the best fit for your company's needs.

Comparison of Standard and Alternative Agreements

Term, Condition, Fees

Standard Agreement

Alternative Agreement

Funding / Intent

Funding is provided by a company directly; Total project indirect costs apply; standard terms apply.  Funding is provided by a company directly; Total project indirect costs apply; standard terms apply, but include the addition of secured intellectual property. 

Proprietary Information Period of Protection

5 year obligation. 5 year obligation.

Definition of IP

Patents and Software-related Copyrights. Patents and Software-related Copyrights. 

Project IP (Foreground IP)

Non-exclusive, royalty free license grant and option to negotiate for an exclusive, field of use patent license at end of project period. Non-exclusive, royalty free license grant and option to pay up front a 25% fee on top of the total project cost for an exclusive, defined, field of use patent license.

OSU Background IP

Provides the right to use for research and development purposes. Provides the right to use for research and development purposes. 


Provides a delay to review publications for company confidential information and to allow sufficient time to file patent applications. Provides a delay to review publications for company confidential information and to allow sufficient time to file patent applications.

Total Liability 

Liability cap set as a state entity. Liability cap set as a state entity.

Indirect Cost Rate*

57.50% 57.50%

*Indirect costs are not uniquely associated with a particular project but are nonetheless incurred by OSU due to the project. They include costs such as building and facilities operation and maintenance, departmental accounting and clerical support, network support, equipment depreciation, library, general and sponsored projects administration. These costs are budgeted and charged as a percentage of some of the direct cost elements, but not all. As a public university, this rate is set at OSU's actual cost - margins and revenues are not built into OSU's indirect cost rate.