You meet someone at an event and find out that you have similar R&D goals. They work for the Air Force…how interesting! You wonder if working with them on a project would spark some creative breakthrough. You have lots of ideas! You are excited to follow up!
And then you remember…
…they work for the federal government.
Feeling defeated, you say to yourself “Well, it would’ve been really interesting.” You move on, feeling sure that there is NO EASY WAY to partner with someone who works within a lab surrounded by a barbed wire fence.
If you’ve ever felt that way, you’re not alone. Wright Brothers Institute has heard that story over and over again. Many people believe in order to partner with a federal lab, like the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL), you must have a traditional contract in place.
Believe it or not, there are several ways to “skin the cat” and not all of them are contracts.
One of the most successful and customizable options is the Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA).
CRADAs are not traditional contracts.
CRADAs are not exclusive to university partnerships.
A CRADA is a legal agreement between one or more federal laboratories and one or more non-federal parties. The agreement creates an avenue to leverage participants’ resources when conducting research and development.
The purpose of a CRADA is to make government facilities, intellectual property, and expertise available for collaborative interactions to further the development of scientific and technological knowledge into useful, marketable products. https://www.ott.nih.gov/cradas
Translation: If both parties benefit, you can establish a CRADA agreement.
A CRADA can be managed between AFRL and:
A state or local government
An industrial organization, including corporations, partnerships and industrial development organizations
Public and private foundations
Benefits to the collaborator:
Gains access to federal expertise and obtains rights to technologies developed using federal funds
Leverages their research and development resources by providing a way to acquire expertise and other forms of assistance
Grant exclusive rights to a federally owned background invention
Benefits to the federal laboratory:
Implemented relatively easily and within a relatively short period of time
Leverage research and development resources by providing a way to acquire expertise and other forms of assistance, without any monetary payments to a collaborating partner, to further the laboratory’s mission goals
Receive direct payments from the collaborator for use of laboratory resources
Provides for sharing between the laboratory and inventor of royalty income received from licensing agreements of CRADA developed technology
Sounds great! But what’s next?
So follow up with that interesting person from the Air Force! It could lead to breakthroughs that keep the warfighter from harm, saves the government money or aids in the next humanitarian effort.
Keep the conversation going.