What is it?

Contract research and collaborative research are not totally different in kind but are on a continuum and are distinguishable mainly by the relative balance of the partners’ interests. Research to address business-specific needs and clearly defined. Closer to market and technology needs of the business - when a business has a gap in knowledge, expertise or needs the use/application of equipment which is expensive/unavailable commercially/unique.


While much contract research may involve applied, near-market research and development, it is also possible for universities to be commissioned to undertake strategic research, where commercial objectives are identified but are distant. Usually, a contract research team will comprise project-specific research and technical staff under academic supervision. A service activity where the interests of the business are the prime focus - it is appropriate to take a commercial approach to price.


Short, Medium up to 36 months.


Paid for by business, universities will apply full overheads to Contract research. Grant support may be available from government agencies to undertake research in certain strategic areas.


Unlike sponsored or collaborative research, contract research allows business to set the agenda for the project. Businesses can find solutions to problems they couldn’t do alone. Access to expertise which could lead to new unforeseen opportunities which in turn can have new commercial opportunities. Can be more cost effective than creating/building in-house facility to test/research. Useful for one-off projects.

Suitable for which Businesses?

All businesses regardless of size but more cost effective for smaller companies without dedicated research facilities. Working with academics may lead to previously unidentified commercial ideas.

How do you engage?

The First step is to articulate the research required and the time period for results. Where the business is already aware of academics working in this area then they can contact them directly. Contact the university’s “working with Business” office.