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Policy on industrial liaisons

The role of the Industrial Liaison Committee in reviewing potential grants and contracts with industrial organizations.


The goal of this policy is to facilitate productive and appropriate relationships between ICS faculty/students and industrial organizations in Hawaii and elsewhere. To that end, the department maintains an Industry Liaison Committee (ILC) which carries out the following activities:

  • Review of contracts between ICS faculty and external industry organizations.
  • Development of departmental policies for ICS faculty engagement with industry.
  • Outreach to local industry about the research and educational activities in the department.
  • Interaction with ICS faculty to establish and document “best practices” regarding industrial collaboration; lessons learned and pitfalls to avoid.

In a nutshell, the ICS policy on industrial liaisons is that sponsored research by “non-traditional” funding organizations must be reviewed and approved by the ICS Industrial Liaison Committee. The following sections clarify this policy.

Grants and Contracts

The contractual relationship between faculty and “traditional” funding organizations (such as NSF, NIH, and Darpa) is well-established and does not require review by the ILC.

However, contracts with “non-traditional” funding organizations such as local high tech companies can take on a myriad of forms depending upon the type of work required and the amount of funding provided. The basic role of the ILC when reviewing such contracts is to ensure that the department’s interests and mission are compatible with the proposed relationship, and to help create win-win situations when possible for all parties.

Some of the issues to be considered when reviewing a contract:

  • Is it research? The mission of our department is not to provide high tech workers for below-market rates. If the contract is for basic software development work without a research component, some other relationship (such as a faculty consulting position or student internship) might be more appropriate.
  • Who owns the intellectual property? This is related to the first issue. For traditional funding organizations, the IP is owned by its creator. For non-traditional organizations, some sort of “shared” IP might be appropriate. Contracts in which IP ownership is not addressed are potentially problematic.

There are many ways for an ICS faculty member or student to interact with an industry organization. Here are some of the standard approaches and implications for the ILC.

  • Faculty consultant. Our UHPA agreement allows us to work for an outside organization up to 8 hours a week during our “on duty” period and as much as we want during the summer. As a consultant, you can enter into any kind of contract you want with a company as this relationship is independent of the ICS department. Faculty consultant grants and contracts do not require review by the ILC.
  • Sponsored research. This arrangement involves the industry organization providing a grant to UH for which you are the PI. This arrangement requires the consent of the ICS department chair (via their signature on the Form 5). Sponsored research does require review by the ILC, which helps ensure that the work is compatible with the mission of the department and that the interests of our students are protected. Students are normally funded as RAs under sponsored research, and the work should be oriented toward standard research results (publications, grants, theses, etc.)
  • Student internship. A student can enter into an internship arrangement with a company. Internships are typically recognized as a “learning experience” in which the company accepts somewhat inexperienced students into their organization and provides mentorship opportunities. The student is funded independently and may work for sub-market rates. There need not be any research component to the student’s work in an internship scenario. Student internship agreements do not require review by the ILC.
  • Independent study. A student can enroll in an ICS 499 or ICS 699 under the guidance of a professor in which the work involves an industry organization. As a course, it is the responsibility of the sponsoring professor to ensure that the work of the student with the company has an educational component. There may or may not be a research component. Independent study agreements do not require review by the ILC.


The University of Hawaii Office of Technology Transfer and Economic Development (OTTED) is a source of guidance regarding contractual relationships. Jonathon Roberts is familiar with our department. UCSD Faculty Resources for Industry Collaboration

Useful resources from UCSD.

High Technology Development Center A state funded organization focused on growing the local high technology community. They run the Manoa Innovation Center, which provides incubation facilities. They can be a source of information about local high companies with interests similar to your own.

Local networking sites:

Last updated: August, 2010

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