Best Practice Guidelines

These guidelines describe how principal investigators and staff can set up, launch, and administer an Industry Sponsored Institute smoothly, successfully, and sustainably. The best practices are based on UC Berkeley's experience establing and running successful Industry Sponsored Institutes (ISI or Institute).

Getting Started 

Creating and running an Institute is a major commitment and investment of university leadership and administrative resources. These guidelines highlight program design and budgeting best practices for accurately estimating time, complexity, and costs (e.g., leadership, sponsor-relationship management, accounting and fund management, gift management, subaward management, procurement, facilities, intellectual property management).

Faculty and campus leadership can avoid common pitfalls involved in setting up an institute by building in the proper levels of support, whether provided by Institute faculty/staff or negotiated with the relevant campus units, when seeking to establish an Institute. 

If you would like to explore establishing an Industry Sponsored Institute at UC Berkeley with corporate funding, please fill out an IPIRA Concierge form. An IPIRA staff member will reach out to you and discuss the opportunity.

If you are interested in forming an institute with funding from a foundation or other non-profit entity (such as a U.S. or foreign university), or state or federal government funds, contact the Sponsored Projects Office for assistance

How is an ISI Agreement Different from a Master Sponsored Research Agreement 

In a Master Sponsored Research Agreement (MSRA), a company intending to fund multiple research agreements over an extended period of time agrees to terms and conditions in advance. A signed MSRA eliminates the need to negotiate a new agreement for each individual project. An ISI Agreement includes an MSRA, with standard terms that govern the sponsor's funding for future, undefined research projects, plus specifies elements specific to the governance and operations of the institute.

Master Sponsored Research Agreement

Industry Sponsored Institute Research Agreement

master terms and conditions (standard terms that apply across many projects)

scope of work for research projects

funding for research projects

special IP terms for substantial funding (optional)

funding for operations and administration

can include a lease

build a building

open collaborative space and proprietary space (proprietary only under a lease)

governance structure

calls for proposals (with a joint steering committee for proposal selection)

How to Set Up and Manage an Industry Sponsored Institute

The Three-Stage Process

 The process for setting up and running an Institute involves three stages.

  • Stage 1: defining the opportunity
  • Stage 2: shaping and structuring the Institute
  • Stage 3: launching and administering the Institute

Stage 1: Defining the Opportunity 

The process for setting up and running an Institute involves three stages.

  • Stage 1: defining the opportunity
  • Stage 2: shaping and structuring the Institute
  • Stage 3: launching and administering the Institute

Stage 2: Setting Up the Institute

The next stage is to discuss and decide how specific elements such as University administration, governance, funding, other participating institutions, key research facilities, and intellectual property issues, will be woven together to create a successful Industry Sponsored Institute. IPIRA’s Industry Alliances Office (IAO) and the Office of Technology Licensing (OTL) work with faculty and staff to help design and establish the institute and advise on on-going issues arising with managing an institute that is responsive to the needs of the industry sponsor and the university.

ISI Master Agreement. The key elements of an institute are memorialized in a master agreement, which is signed by the university and the institute's industry sponsor. IPIRA Industry Alliances Office (IAO), in consultation with IPIRA Office of Technology Licensing (OTL) and Sponsored Projects Office (SPO), negotiates and signs the master agreement with the industry sponsor to establish the institute and the associated research project plans. The interests of the institute and the industry sponsor are considered in custom-crafting an arrangement in accordance with UC and campus policies. The ISI master agreement is customized to address issues raised by the given situation, but all such agreements address the following minimum elements:

  • governance model defining roles and responsibilities
  • a sustainable financial model
  • a master sponsored research agreement that provides funding in a defined area of research
  • intellectual property issues
  • other special considerations, as needed, such as:
    • participating research institutions and associated subawards
    • key research facilities and potential leasing by industry sponsor
    • other incubator/accelerator arrangements for startups, or other agreements such as non-disclosure, material transfer, and data use agreements

Stage 3: Administering the Institure

Once the ISI Master Agreement is signed by the institute sponsor and by IPIRA’s Industry Alliances Office on behalf of the Regents, the Institute operations are set to begin. Institutes operate within the existing research and compliance infrastructure of UC Berkeley and the University of California. It is important to develop a robust team across campus to support the Institute. Build your team by meeting early and regularly with the support office listed below. ISIs are subject to campus, University, and certain federal policies and procedures and rely primarily on existing campus processes for research administration and accounting.

Build a Cross-campus Team

  • Alliance Management. Alliance management and liaising with the Institute sponsor(s), university researchers, and subawardee institution(s) is administratively intensive. Meet with IPIRA to discuss Alliance Management roles. Research Administration Needs. The Executive Director is advised to meet with representatives of Berkeley Regional Services (BRS) to discuss resource needs and plan for adequate service provision.
  • Compliance. Certain research administration and compliance functions are performed, as necessary, by the Office of Environmental Health and Safety, the campus Conflict of Interest Committee, the Animal Care and Use Committee, and the Office for the Protection of Human Subjects, and others. The Executive Director is advised to meet with representatives of these offices, as needed, to discuss resource needs and plan for adequate service provision.
  • Procurement. Purchases of equipment, services, third party memberships, and more are conducted through Procurement in Supply Chain Management.
  • Accounting and Fund Management. The Executive Director is advised to meet with representatives of Contracts and Grants Accounting (CGA) to discuss resource needs and plan for adequate service provision. In particular, sponsor requirements in providing payment, purchase orders, vendor management, may be addressed.
  • University Development and Alumni Relations. The Executive Director is advised to meet with representatives of University Development and Alumni Relations (UDAR) to giving to the Institute and plan for adequate service.

Manage Intellectual Property

Inventions, software, materials, copyrightable works, and other intellectual property arising from ISI research are disclosed to IPIRA’s Office of Technology Licensing (OTL) through IPIRA’s online invention disclosure form or the software disclosure form. OTL receives and manages invention and software disclosures, protects inventions by filing and prosecuting patents, and licenses IP rights for commercial development, to companies of all sizes, including startup companies. OTL also manages startup equity and related agreements, assistance with open source software licenses and other copyrights, assistance with startup funding, and outgoing materials or data. OTL also supports entrepreneurs and startup companies in part, by collaborating with other campus unitsand the broader innovation ecosystem.

Manage Changes

IPIRA IAO is available to provide strategic advice on changes in Institute direction, changes in Master Agreement terms and conditions, adding new sponsors, scaling the Institute, or winding down the Institute.