Intellectual property

Intellectual property (IP) is one of a number of important tools to deliver patient and public benefit from NIHR-funded research. IP assets also have an important role in driving innovation, as well as in translating inventions and research into real world impact and supporting collaboration with the life sciences industry.

NIHR-funded IP can take a wide range of forms, including know-how, data sets, copyright, trademarks and patents. IP is used in a complementary way with other outputs, such as publications and presentations, to produce diverse, impactful outcomes.

Organisations that host NIHR funded research need to manage all forms of IP in an appropriate way.

Our approach to intellectual property

NIHR has a responsibility to ensure that the NIHR, NHS and broader public sector have the best chance of realising benefits and achieving impact.

We use standard contracts developed with the Department of Health and Social Care to ensure that the IP generated from NIHR funding is secured within an appropriate legal, contractual environment to facilitate benefit realisation for patients.

The contracts outline a clear position on ownership and management of IP created using NIHR funding. They ensure, as far as is reasonably possible, that the IP on which a researcher wishes to base their NIHR-funded research is able to be used in research and delivery of improved health and care.

They also allow the Department of Health and Social Care to secure a return where appropriate.

Find out more in our intellectual property and commercialisation guidance.

Questions? Contact our IP Unit for tailored advice.

Collaboration agreements

Researchers who involve collaborators in their NIHR-funded project should consider the most effective way to formally manage this arrangement. This is most often achieved through a collaboration agreement.

The NIHR must be made aware of any collaborations, so we can ensure that research is undertaken in an environment that promotes maximum dissemination and if appropriate, exploitation of any results. Our standard research contract contains provisions that recognise collaborations and the need to accommodate flexible IP ownership.

An NIHR-funded project might require a number of other formal collaboration arrangements; for example, supply agreement or material transfer agreement. These need to be shared with the NIHR so that the organisation has a clear understanding of these.

Read our guidance on collaboration agreements.

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