Research collaborations with Karlstad University
Collaboration is an important part of Karlstad University’s strategy for quality enhancement and we place great value on our education and research being characterised by close ties to the wider community. We promote research collaboration since it strengthens our own research work and teaching at the university. It is also an efficient way for us to disseminate research-based knowledge of benefit to society.
For the university to enter into a collaboration, it must be in line with the university’s overall mission and be characterised by high quality, transparency and clarity, as well as complying with applicable laws, guidelines and ethical principles at the university. It is important for the university that collaborations do not undermine the public’s trust in the university or limit the university’s ability to conduct research and education. Collaborations require written agreements. You are welcome to contact us to discuss potential collaborations that will yield the best possible outcome for both you and us.
TWO FORMS OF RESEARCH COLLABORATION
There are two possible forms of research collaboration: contract research and different forms of collaborative research. Since the legal requirements differ, it is important to be clear in discussions about prospective collaborations as to which form of collaboration you are referring.
CONTRACT RESEARCH VERSUS COLLABORATIVE RESEARCH
Below is a schematic overview showing the differences between contract research and collaborative research.
- Contract research: The commissioning party “owns” the research question.
- Collaborative research: The research question is of common interest to all parties.
- Contract research: The commissioning party funds the entire project according to the principle of full cost coverage.
- Collaborative research: All participating parties contribute to funding. Payments can be made to the university, but as a financial. contribution.
- Contract research: The university reserves the right to publish the results.
- Collaborative research: The university reserves the right to publish results where university staff have been involved in generating them.
- Contract research: The commissioning party can be given ownership of, or far-reaching rights to, the results. The university reserves the right to use the results in its academic activities (research and teaching).
- Collaborative research: Ownership of results generated by a university researcher remains with the university or the researcher. Transfer of ownership or licensing requires market-value remuneration.
- Contract research: Confidentiality according to the Public Access to Information and Secrecy Act, Chap. 31, Sec. 12
- Collaborative research: Confidentiality according to the Public Access to Information and Secrecy Act, Chap. 24, Sec. 5
Contract research means that the university conducts research on behalf of another party, for example, a company. The university has an obligation to charge a fee for the assignment that fully covers the university’s costs for the project – full cost coverage. There are no formal obstacles against transferring ownership of results to the commissioning party, but in some cases, the right to use the results will suffice. Ultimately, it is up to the commissioning party and the researcher to agree on the terms of ownership. This must be addressed in the contract research agreement between the commissioning party and the university, which is signed before work begins.
Contract research must bring research benefits for the university, which usually means that the results can be published and presented in academic contexts and benefit continuing research and teaching. For the university, it is important that this takes place in a controlled manner and with consideration to possible confidentiality, as well as the commissioning party being given the opportunity to protect results prior to publication. Therefore, the university normally offers to delay the dissemination of results until the commissioning party has been notified and given the opportunity to postpone dissemination for a reasonable time, usually 90 days from the date that they were notified. The procedures for this should be described in the contract research agreement. For more information on the legal aspects of how the university can protect information through confidentiality, see section on Confidentiality.
The university conducts research assignments with the diligence required by the assignment. However, since research is an experimental activity by nature, the university is not in a position to provide guarantees for the commercial usability of research results or to guarantee that developed results do not infringe on existing intellectual property rights.
Collaborative research is the most common form of collaboration with researchers at Karlstad University and means that the university conducts research with one or several other parties, such as companies, other universities and/or institutes. Within the framework of collaborative research, the parties contribute with resources in the form of, for example, financial means, materials and existing knowledge. Since collaborative research does not entail full cost coverage for the university, the collaboration cannot result in participating parties obtaining the rights to background knowledge or results generated at the university without market-value remuneration. As the university is covered by EU state aid rules, wrongfully obtained rights can be considered illegal use of state aid, which may result in a repayment obligation for the collaborative partner for the value of the information received.
Collaborative research should benefit research and, therefore, the university always reserves the right to publish results as well as using these results in continuing research and teaching. This also applies when results generated at the university are given to a collaborative partner, or when a collaborative partner is offered the possibility of taking ownership over, or in other ways use, the results. For the university, it is important that the dissemination of results takes place with consideration to possible confidentiality and the collaborative partners’ interest in protecting results before they are made public. Therefore, the university accepts that dissemination will not be made until the collaborative parties have been notified and, if necessary, been given the opportunity to postpone dissemination for a reasonable time, usually 90 days from the date they were notified. The procedures for this should be described in the collaborative research agreement. For more information on the legal aspects of how the university can protect information through confidentiality, see section on Confidentiality.
It should be noted that the university is not authorised to sign agreements that allow unlimited damage claims against the State, hence collaborative research agreements need to contain reasonable limits on liability.
RIGHT TO RESULTS/INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
In most cases, the researcher owns the right to his/her research results unless otherwise agreed. This means that, in cases where results are to be transferred or otherwise made available to a collaborative partner, the university must reach an agreement with the researcher to transfer ownership or grant a license to the collaborative partner. This is often regulated by the researcher approving the terms of the contract research agreement or collaborative research agreement. An alternative is for the researcher to waive the right to the results in favour of one of the university’s companies (for legal reasons it is not appropriate for the university itself to take over ownership). In such cases, the company is responsible for any transfer or licensing to the collaborative partner.
As a government authority, the university must comply with the Principle of Public Access to Official Records and cannot keep information confidential to any greater extent than what Swedish legislation stipulates, primarily the Public Access to Information and Secrecy Act (OSL). The Public Access to Information and Secrecy Act contains regulations that specifically address contract research and collaborative research.
It is up to the university to assess whether or not the information is covered by confidentiality. When the commissioning party/collaborative party expects that certain information is kept confidential, such expectation is of great importance to the university’s assessment. Please note that the university’s decision regarding whether or not certain information is covered by confidentiality can be appealed to a Swedish court of law. Thus, the university can never guarantee confidentiality.
The Public Access to Information and Secrecy Act (OSL, Chap.31, Sec. 12) defines confidentiality within contract research as follows:
Confidentiality applies for contracts that concern testing, determining of properties or abundance, evaluation, scientific, technical, financial or statistical investigation or other such contracts that the governmental agency performs on behalf of a private party, if it must be assumed that the contract has been commissioned on the assumption that the information is not disclosed.
The Public Access to Information and Secrecy Act (OSL, Chap.24, Sec. 5) defines confidentiality within collaborative research as follows:
Confidentiality applies at universities and colleagues to information about a private party’s business or operating conditions, inventions or research findings that have been submitted or emerged during such research that, by agreement, is being undertaken in cooperation with a private party, if it must be assumed that the private party has participated in the collaborative research on condition that such information is not disclosed.