Sponsoring Plastics Research
at UMass Lowell

David Kazmer performs plastics research through the University of Massachusetts Lowell (UML), providing direct access to all the advanced capabilities and resources related to plastics product design and manufacturing of UML’s Plastics Engineering Department and Core Research Facility. Two different types of research services are typically performed, depending on the expected duration and course of research performance as follows. Contact us for further information.

Sponsored Research Agreement

The Sponsored Research Agreement (SRA) is the preferred approach for performing significant, strategic plastics research projects with UML. A typical budget for a one-year project is around $50,000, which funds a doctoral plastics research assistant for one year, supplies, tuition, travel, and other expenses. Compared to most research Universities, the budget is quite modest and provides a significant value compared to internal staffing, capital resourcing, and indirect costs. For this reason, we’ve performed multi-year research projects with General Electric, MKS, and other companies.

A recurring issue in the negotiation of SRA’s is the assignment of intellectual property. U.S. patent law requires that all inventors contributing significantly to an invention must be identified. For this reason, joint inventions between UML and a research sponsor are jointly owned. With this joint ownership, UML typically agrees to royalty free, nonexclusive rights for the research sponsor to commercialize the invention. The research sponsor may opt to pre-negotiate licensing of inventions for exclusive use in all or some fields of use.

From time to time, SRAs are developed with statements of work to employ the research sponsor’s existing patent portfolio such that no intellectual property is expected. Such SRA strategies can be effective but may lead to overt restrictions on the scope of research and reduced research productivity. For such cases where no intellectual property is expected, research sponsors may wish to pursue a testing services agreement.

Testing Services Agreement

The Testing Services Agreement (TSA) is a good alternative for short and moderate-scale plastics research projects focused primarily on characterization and analysis of materials, processing, and design. Typical budgets are $10,000 to $25,000 to fund hourly researchers or a portion of a doctoral student’s contract. The statement of work for TSA is usually quite narrow, with specific deliverables to be completed in the one to six month time frame.

The advantage of sponsoring a TSA rather than using hourly access to UML’s Core Research Facility (CRF) is that the research sponsor can access the full portfolio of the CRF at internal UML rates, a 75% discount to external users. For even small projects, the TSA can thus provide greater cost productivity while also strengthening relations between the research sponsor and UML researchers. However, many UML researchers (including myself) are hesitant to enter into TSA’s unless the requested services are in the researcher’s direct area, or the area or research sponsor are of strategic interest.