New legal templates to make it easier for businesses to work with universities are to be rolled out across Scotland.

The country’s 19 universities have all agreed to use the new documents, which provide a simple solution for both parties to agree legal terms and clarify the ownership of Intellectual Assets at the outset, strengthening their working relationships and building trust.

The documents have been developed by Universities Scotland and Interface, and are intended to be used for projects financed through the Scottish Funding Council (SFC)’s Innovation Vouchers Scheme.

The SFC has agreed that these will be adopted as terms and conditions of being awarded a standard Innovation Voucher. These offer up to £5,000 for a first-time collaboration between businesses and universities, and is matched by the business in cash or equivalent.

Since the launch of the scheme in 2009, almost 900 vouchers totalling £4.5million have been issued, directly helping hundreds of businesses to develop products, services and solutions.

Interface Director, Siobhán Jordan, said: “We are delighted to introduce these standard legal templates, which will not only save time for everyone involved, but will address concerns about sharing and developing ideas.

“In collaborations between businesses and academics, Intellectual Assets are fundamentally important and these standard templates will introduce much needed clarity for businesses partnering with academia. Each collaboration generates Intellectual Assets and all partners should be clear from the outset about who owns the Intellectual Property and how it will be commercialised.

“We hope that the harmonisation and simplification by Scottish universities will encourage more small-to-medium-sized businesses to think about how they could tap into the rich seam of academic expertise on offer in Scotland.”

Alastair Sim, Director of Universities Scotland, added: “Scotland’s universities work with 19,000 Scottish businesses every year, helping to develop new ideas for products or processes.

“We’re keen to grow that number and make it easier than ever for business to innovate with us. Issues around ownership of intellectual property kept on coming up in conversation with business as a potential sticking point so we’ve acted on their feedback and have sought to address these concerns through a new streamlined set of new legal templates.

“We’d encourage any business with an innovative idea to think of universities as a partner in making it happen.”

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