Each year, the ARMA conference hosts a meeting of the Research Contracts Special Interest Group (“SIG”). Last year, myself and my colleague Buddug Williams took the opportunity to spend some time with colleagues across the sector and reflect upon the benchmarking exercise that had been carried out in 2013, to get a sense of where we had got to and what still needed to be done.
The report made a number of observations and recommendations based on Research Contracts functions at Brunswick Group Universities. The SIG included a much more diverse bunch and experiences varied from the one man band to the full scale legal team. Despite this, we were still able to find a multitude of common threads and take some comfort in common experiences. The two key areas where that found universal agreement and an opportunity to move things forward were shared resources, in particular, templates and training provision. Other discussions such as how to convince our respective departments to buy us all shiny new IT systems that complemented one another seemed in need of a bit more head scratching.
Out of this was born the review of the template resources available for Research Contracts teams. Together with Richard Liwicki (Oxford), I began the process of looking at the range of template resources available and looking into where we might be able to improve on what was already out there. We developed a new suite of agreements based on a combination of the earlier Brunswick Agreements, the Scottish University Agreements and feedback from a number of colleagues engaged in the consultation process. The objective was to create a new suite of agreements that provided a more modern and user friendly option and not to re-invent the wheel. Therefore, you are unlikely to find many substantive departures from previously agreed positions but you may notice some new additions both to the clauses and to the suite on the whole.
It was with great pleasure that we were able to launch the new suite earlier this year with the full spectrum of Russell Group and Brunswick Group Universities signing up to use the agreements wherever possible. If you would like to add your insitution to the list, please take a look here for information on how to do so. The project remains a work in progress and you may note that there is already a pipeline to expand it further. We also haven’t forgotten about training and development and will be looking to turn our attention that way later this year.