Research and Sponsored Programs

Sponsored Project Contracts

Developing and negotiating a sponsored research contract involves many steps.  The following information provides an overview of recommended strategies and practices and make you aware of the requirements of developing a contract with an external sponsor.

While the information is presented in a series of consecutive steps, depending on your timeframe, it may be necessary to execute some of steps concurrently. 

The earlier you engage the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, the more help we can provide throughout the process.

Partnership and Sponsored Research Agreement Timeline

3 Months to 1 Month Prior to Project Start
2 Months to 1 Month Prior to Project Start
1 Month Prior to Project Start
A research/project idea emerges between a PI and a sponsor (business-industry, non-profit, other agency, etc.)
The Scope of work is developed and mutually agreed upon between the University and Sponsor
Agreement terms (intellectual property, publication rights, payment, etc.) are negotiated and documented through a legally binding agreement

Roles and Responsibilities of Sponsored Research Contract

Principal Investigator (PI) is the individual(s) leading the proposed project/program, and is responsible for the preparation, execution, and administration of an agreement/contract in compliance with applicable laws and regulations and institutional policy governing the conduct of sponsored research.

  • Develops the implementation plan for the research or project, including personnel needed for project and corresponding effort requirements.
  • Develops the project budget in collaboration with Dean/VP/supervisors and RSP.
  • Discloses potential conflict of interest to Dean/VP/Supervisor.
  • Discusses participation expectations with other stakeholders/departments.
  • Requests approval from Department/Dean/VP/Supervisor for resources required for the implementation/execution of a project (i.e. equipment, space and support). If resources are not available, that support must be requested in the proposal.
  • Completes the Proposal Approval Form and routes proposal for internal review and approvals, then route to RSP to review and obtain final approvals.
  • Understands institutional policies and procedures as they relate to sponsored projects.

Principal Investigator’s Dean/VP/Supervisors

  • Assesses the alignment of the partnership agreement with the University’s mission and vision.
  • Reviews and approves the project budget.
  • Reviews and approves any cost sharing/matching commitments, and approves the source of the cost share/matching assuring necessary commitments will be in place prior to the award.
  • Reviews any potential conflict of interest and must manage, eliminate or minimize any conflicts as required by Minnesota State Statue.

Research and Sponsored Programs

  • Assists with the project budget.
  • Advises PIs and University staff regarding federal, state, local government and other funding agencies' rules, regulations and procedures.
  • Reviews the Proposal Approval Form and coordinates final University approvals.
  • Drafts and negotiates the agreement with the sponsor.

Step 1 - A collaboration opportunity is identified

Generally, a collaboration is initiated when a St. Cloud State University PI and external colleague identify a project of mutual interest.  However, in some cases a potential sponsor will reach out the University looking for expertise in a specific discipline so connections can occur through various ways.

Step 2 - Define the project

Once a project is identified and a collaboration is established between the sponsor and University’s project lead, the PI will complete the Sponsored Research Worksheet to define the project stakeholders, scope of work, budget and related information.

Step 3 - Schedule a meeting with your contact in Research and Sponsored Programs

Bring the completed Sponsored Research Workshop:

  • sponsor expectations and contact information,
  • overview of the project,
  • budgetary needs of the project
  • discuss the type of contract/agreement is appropriate (if any),
  • facilitating the internal approval process (see Step 4), and
  • outlining plan for negotiating the agreement.

Step 4 - Discuss project with your Dean/VP/Supervisor and Secure Internal Approvals

To ensure the project the mutually-beneficial to the university and potential sponsor, it is vital to discuss the potential collaboration with your Dean/VP/Supervisor.  

Sponsored Research opportunities must be reviewed and approved be a delegated authority with authorization to enter into such agreement. To initiate the review/approval process, complete the Proposal Approval Form and attach the Sponsored Research Data Form, project budget, and working draft of the agreement (if available). Upon Dean/Vice President approval, submit to the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (RSP) in AS210.

The Office of Research and Sponsored Programs will facilitate the final approvals by Associate Provost for Research/Provost.

Only those with delegated authority (i.e. President, Provost, and Associate Provost for Research) are authorized to sign sponsored research agreements.

Step 5 - Await negotiation process

The length of the negotiation process depends on how quickly the sponsor and SCSU can agree on the contract terms.  The more experience the sponsor has with academic partners, the more likely we will come to agreement quickly. RSP will lead the negotiation process and consult legal counsel as needed.