NEWS RELEASE, 11/23/98
Questions and Answers on the UC Berkeley-NADI
Q: How much funding will NADI provide to support research?
A: NADI will give UC Berkeley up to $5 million a year for five years. If project budgets submitted to NADI total less than $5 million per year, then the balance will carry forward to the following year. Approximately $3.3 million will go to support non-targeted research in the department of Plant and Microbial Biology (PMB). The other $1.7 million will go to UC Berkeley for overhead and to support infrastructure.
Q: How will research monies be dispensed?
A: Members of the department will submit proposals to a five-member Research Committee composed of three PMB faculty and two NADI representatives who will select the projects to be funded.
Q: Will NADI funding be linked to individuals? Will it create inequities?
A: Funds are linked to projects, not to individuals. Funds will be awarded to faculty on a competitive basis, and all PMB faculty who elect to participate in the agreement will have the opportunity to apply to the Research Committee for NADI funds. The agreement is designed to narrow, not widen the equity gap among researchers.
Q: What else will NADI provide?
A: Depending on the project, NADI may supply access to patented, proprietary databases, technology, and research tools. These materials and tools, essential to many areas of research, are extremely expensive to assemble and would otherwise be unavailable to PMB researchers.
Q: Will NADI be able to influence internal department policies or direct the research agenda?
A: No. The two NADI members of the Research Committee will have no voice in department or University policy. The research agenda will continue to be determined by the interests of individual PMB faculty who may or may not choose to apply for NADI funding. Most faculty researchers have indicated they will participate, but virtually all will also continue to seek funding from federal and state agencies and foundations, and several will continue to work with other private companies.
NADI and Novartis Agribusiness Biotech Research, Inc. (NABRI) members of the Advisory Committee can only make recommendations to the University and to the department; they cannot set policy.
Q: How big a portion of the PMBD research budget will NADI provide?
A: That will vary from year to year depending on other grants received. It is expected to average about 30-40 percent.
Q: What will NADI get in return?
A: NADI will have the right to negotiate a license on a portion of all inventions to the extent allowed under existing university policy and federal guidelines. The portion will be determined by the level of NADI funding relative to nearly all of PMBD non-commercial research funding covered by the agreement, or roughly 30-40% of all inventions created under the agreement.
Q: Does this agreement give NADI broader access to results than are available to other private research sponsors?
A: Yes, the inclusion of certain State and Federal funds in the pool of inventions from which NADI can select goes beyond the standard grant to corporate sponsors in standard sponsored project agreements. To compensate for this, NADI's rights are limited to the anticipated 30-40% of all inventions that NADI can elect to license. In contrast, a standard sponsored projects contract would grant to the sponsor 100% of the inventions that result from the project.
This quid pro quo (a larger pool of inventions from which to select in exchange for a cap on the number of inventions that can be licensed) is analogous to an arrangement between Scripps and Sandoz some years ago that was monitored and approved by the National Institutes of Health. The University and NADI were mindful of NIH guidelines, the public interest, and fair access issues throughout the negotiations for this agreement and during the drafting process. This agreement is based on technology transfer and sponsored research policies and protocols that have been long established on this campus and in federal guidelines.
Q: Does this agreement differ from other research agreements in other ways?
A: This collaboration differs in several ways:
1) All research dollars are unrestricted (non-directed);
2) The commitment to fund a large research program was made prior to submission of any research plans; faculty members have total freedom after the start of the agreement to decide which projects they choose to pursue;
3) The option period to commence patent negotiations is generally shorter than typical University/Private research agreements;
4) Collaboration by a large number of faculty with a single corporate entity over five years is unique.
5) The University will be able to license inventions to other parties if not licensed by NADI, even if they were created by projects funded by NADI.
A: No. Faculty research interests will not change. The agreement uses private money to subsidize basic research according to the research interests of individual PMB faculty, not targeted, narrow industrial research.
Q: How can we be sure the money will fund research in the public interest?
A: University research is academic and benefits the public through teaching, research and the dissemination of information. Research proposals to be funded by NADI will be written by faculty members, not by NADI. We rely on the integrity of the faculty to further science in a meaningful way. One safeguard in the agreement speaks to precluding the filing of undesirable patents simply to block a competitor of NADI. It says that the University is not required to patent an invention if NADI does not have the ultimate goal of commecializing a product based on the invention.
Q: Will there be any restrictions on faculty publishing their research?
A: No. There can be short delays but no restrictions. Both NADI and UCB will have 30 days to review publications involving the research program prior to submission for publication. If it is determined that a patent should be filed an additional period of up to 90 days (or the filing of a patent application, whichever occurs first) may be granted to allow the University to prepare and file the patent application. The additional period is 60 days, not 90, when the material originally exchanged is a research invention (as defined by patent law), as opposed to a result (such as data). Publication delays are standard in sponsored research agreements.
Q: Who pays for patents? Who owns the patents? Who collects the royalties?
A: NADI will pay all costs related to patents they elect. The University will receive all royalties on licensed patents. Licenses will be negotiated by the campus Office of Technology Licensing and NADI. NADI and the University will jointly own patents in
the case of joint inventions made by an employee of each organization without the use of University facilities, or if NADI employees are the sole inventors on an invention made in a University facility and the University can legally grant the joint assignment.
Q: Could NADI license an invention simply to keep it from competitors?
A: No. License agreements may be exclusive or nonexclusive. A non-exclusive license means the discovery/invention/technology is available to multiple licensees. An exclusive license will have diligence provisions and reporting requirements to ensure the technology is utilized and the public need is met. Moreover, as stated above, the University is not required to file a patent application on an invention or to continue prosecution of any patent if NADI does not have the ultimate goal of commercializing a product based on the invention.
Q: Will the agreement impose secrecy or restrict an open academic environment in any way?
A: No. The agreement states specifically: "NADI acknowledges that the University is an open, academic environment and as a public, non-profit educational institution has no mechanism to guarantee the confidentiality of information and as a public, non-profit educational institution is subject to statutes requiring disclosure of information and records which a private corporation could keep confidential." Restrictions arise only when additional agreements are signed, such as specific confidentiality or material transfer agreements or the "access agreement" that will grant access to NADI's proprietary and confidential genomics database.
Q: Will NADI have any confidential, closed, or restricted labs on campus?
A: No. NADI intends to establish a facility close to campus but the location has not been decided.
Q: How will the agreement affect teaching and graduate student research?
A: The agreement provides a new base of support for researchers and graduate students who will gain access to important proprietary technologies, cutting-edge training, enhanced professional opportunities, and ultimately to powerful genomic databases. The tools and technologies NADI provides will enable PMB researchers and their students to work at the forefront of their field.
Q: Who will monitor the agreement? What if it doesn't work out?
A: Internal and external reviews will be conducted at the halfway point following established campus procedures. If either party is dissatisfied, they may exit with a year's notice.
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