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Researchers often collaborate with other universities and institutes on an ad-hoc basis or as part of a network. These collaborations often involve sharing research funds and intellectual property and therefore a written agreement is required to outline the terms of the collaboration.

Funding programs which require inter-institutional agreements include Network Centres of Excellence (NCEs), NSERC Strategic Networks, and the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).

In each case, the funding program dictates the required elements in the inter-institutional agreement and requires each participating University to sign the document prior to receiving research funds.

Smaller-scale collaborations also require inter-institutional agreements. For example, university researchers routinely receive sub-grants from colleagues located at other universities, and also make sub-grants to colleagues located at other universities. In these cases, an agreement is required to document the work to be performed, authorize the transfer of funds, outline publication and ownership of intellectual property rights, and determine the budget and reporting requirements.

The Legal & Intellectual Property Unit prepares and negotiates these agreements on behalf of researchers. The overhead rate applicable to any funding received through an inter-institutional agreement will often be confirmed at the application stage and may vary depending on the source of the funding.