Sponsored Research Agreements

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A Sponsored Research Agreement (SRA) is a contract between Lehigh and a sponsor for the purposes of funding and conducting research at Lehigh. An SRA may be supported by for-profit (e.g., private industry) or non-profit (e.g., state or federal government, foundations, etc.) sponsors.

The Office of Research and Sponsored Projects (ORSP) is authorized to review, negotiate, and execute SRAs. Preliminary discussions between the Principal Investigator (PI) and sponsor regarding the research may begin long before a sponsor is ready to establish an SRA.  However, ORSP approval must be obtained prior to sending a related proposal to a sponsor.


The PI must complete a Notice of Intent to Submit a Proposal and forward the related proposal documents to their CGS for review. At a minimum, the proposal should include:

  • statement of work (template below),
  • project budget, and
  • budget justification.

Additional information and documents may be requested during the proposal review process.

PIs are encouraged to send Lehigh’s SRA (template below) to the sponsor along with the proposal. In the event that the sponsor provides an agreement, ORSP will begin negotiations informing the PI of any concerns. Generally, SRAs include/address the following:

  • Scope of work to be conducted, including reporting and other deliverables
  • Period of performance, typically defined with “start” and “end” dates
  • Type of agreement (typically and preferably cost reimbursable or fixed price or fixed fee)
  • Invoicing frequency or payment obligations
  • Publication of the research results
  • Options to license the intellectual property arising from the research
  • Care of data and confidential information exchanged during the research
  • Compliance with export control and other laws and regulations
  • Indemnification, warranty disclaimer and liability
  • Insurance
  • Rights and procedures to terminate the project
  • Audit, access to records, and record retention
  • Use of name restrictions
  • Choice of law and jurisdiction
  • Identification of allowable or unallowable costs
  • Requirements for prior approvals for particular expenditures, etc.
  • Termination


Budget Notes:

It is expected that Lehigh's full Facilities and Administrative (F&A) rate (also known as indirect cost rate) is reflected in the budget.  Any reduction or waiver of F&A costs is considered to be cost sharing and must receive the appropriate prior approval. If there is an approved waiver, it should be forwarded to your CGS.

Consistent with federal regulations, all faculty members listed as the PI on a sponsored project must contribute some level of effort to that project to provide necessary supervision/administration.  For additional information, refer to Effort Reporting.


TEMPLATE: Sponsored Research Agreement

TEMPLATE: Statement of Work



Whom should I contact if I have questions about an SRA?

Please call or email your CGS. We look forward to hearing from you!

Is the Principal Investigator considered a party to the SRA?

No.  The SRA is between Lehigh and the sponsor.  The PI signs only to acknowledge that s/he has read and understands the SRA and agrees to use reasonable efforts to uphold his/her obligations set forth therein.

No faculty or staff member should sign any contract document unless instructed to do so by their ORSP representative.

Can the sponsor own the results of the research?

Lehigh owns intellectual property created under sponsored research projects.  Companies sponsoring research can receive rights to the intellectual property in the form of a limited-term option to a license.

Can the sponsor approve publications resulting from the research?

No.  Lehigh is a research and educational institution whose investigators must be able to publish freely.  The sponsor may review manuscripts before they are publicly disclosed in order to identify its confidential information and to seek protection for inventions disclosed in the publications.

Why isn’t sponsored research more like a work for hire?

Under Lehigh policy, Lehigh takes title to inventions created here.  This is consistent with federal research funding laws. Generally, Lehigh does not enter into work for hire research agreements.  Any agreement that Lehigh enters into must be in line with Lehigh’s mission of teaching and research.

Can we pre-set license terms in the SRA?

Generally, no. It is very difficult to set license terms for an invention that does not yet exist.  Also, Lehigh is a 501(c)(3) organization under the IRS Internal Revenue Code. IRS Regulations state that granting rights to sponsored research intellectual property which doesn’t yet exist is considered a “private business use” of facilities funded with tax-exempt bonds.  Tracking and monitoring funding for campus buildings, which change and expand over the years, is difficult for universities.