Consulting for Industry

Overview

UC Davis encourages faculty to participate in outside activities that contribute to their profession, to the community, and to UC Davis’ teaching and public service mission. Engagement with the outside community is a component of the academic enterprise that enables faculty to maintain contact with research directions and priorities in the private sector. Consulting offers benefits to the university’s teaching and public services mission, but consulting must be accomplished within the framework of university policies, including those pertaining to limitations on time spent consulting, compensation plans, intellectual property (IP) and professional liability insurance, and the use of university resources.

Permissible Consulting

The university will not assert ownership to inventions conceived and/or developed by faculty during a consultancy with an outside company, if the consultancy qualifies as “Permissible Consulting.” In general, there are three requirements for Permissible Consulting:

  1. The activity does not make use of university time or research facilities and/or any university resources, including gift, grant, or contract funds administered through the university.
  2. The activity does not incur any university obligations to other parties.
  3. The activity is outside the consultant’s university employment obligations (“scope of employment”).

Scope of Work & Consulting Agreement as Applicable to Permissible Consulting

Determining whether consulting activity, or a specific invention made during a consultancy, is within or outside the faculty member’s scope of employment is best done with reference to the individual’s specific consulting project. The consulting agreement should have a scope of work that will likely be specific to the business interests of the company. This scope of work can be brought to the attention of the department chair who can work with the faculty member to assess the degree of overlap with the areas of research, teaching and publications of the faculty member at the university. If the chair determines that the work under the consulting agreement, or a specific invention made during the consultancy, is beyond the scope of the consultant’s employment with the university, and is considered permissible consulting, a letter communicating that can be written by the chair to UC Davis InnovationAccess.

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Steps When An Invention Is Developed

If and when an invention is developed under the consulting agreement, the faculty inventor should do the following: file a Record of Invention with UC Davis InnovationAccess; attach the Department Chair’s letter to the Record of Invention (ROI); state affirmatively in a cover letter that no university resources were used; and request in the cover letter the right to assign the invention to the company for which the faculty member is consulting. Upon review, if the university agrees, a letter will be provided to the faculty inventor confirming that the university is not assigning ownership to the invention. If the invention has only university inventors, the subject invention should not be disclosed to the company prior to a university determination of invention ownership. As noted above, consultants should have an agreement in place that clearly defines the scope and financial terms of the consulting activity. This is a personal agreement between the consultant and outside entity for which the consultant is personally responsible and to which the university is not a party. It is the responsibility of the consultant to ensure that the consulting agreement does not conflict with the consultant’s university obligations, including the obligation to disclose and assign inventions to the university. If there are questions, the services of a personal outside attorney should be sought by the consultant.

Personal Agreement Between Consultant and Company

As noted above, consultants should have an agreement in place that clearly defines the scope and financial terms of the consulting activity. This is a personal agreement between the consultant and outside entity for which the consultant is personally responsible and to which the university is not a party. It is the responsibility of the consultant to ensure that the consulting agreement does not conflict with the consultant’s university obligations, including the obligation to disclose and assign inventions to the university. If there are questions, the services of a personal outside attorney should be sought by the consultant.

Allowable Consulting Days

Full-time faculty members may engage in consulting up to the time limit based on their appointment (48 days for fiscal year appointment, 39 days if nine-month appointment). Faculty should consult with their respective Deans prior to engaging in consultant agreements for more restrictive requirements. Academic-year faculty members may consult full-time during the summer months in which there is no other salary compensation from the university. Receiving research funding for work on sponsored projects is considered compensation from the university. The university does not set a cap on compensation from outside personal consulting arrangements, except as specified under a health sciences compensation plan. For more information, see the Conflict of Commitment Policy and the Guidance for Faculty and Other Academic Employees on Issues Related to Intellectual Property and Consulting (Consulting Guidance Document). The Consulting Guidance Document sets out guidance for faculty involved in consulting activities.

Policies

The university permits faculty members to provide consulting services related to the person’s academic expertise to an outside party, consistent with the full performance of a faculty member’s primary university obligations and as long as the consulting does not interfere with a faculty member’s full-time commitment to the university. A number of policies apply to outside consulting activities.These include:

Additional Resources

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