A Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) is a written agreement between a private company and a government agency to work together on a project. It’s one of the principal mechanisms used by federal labs to engage in collaborative efforts with non-federal partners to achieve goals of technology transfer. It intended to be a flexible mechanism that can be adapted to a variety of types of collaborative efforts between federal and non-federal organizations and that can be implemented relatively easily within a relatively short time. As a technology transfer mechanism, the CRADA is an extremely useful tool in moving federally funded R&D into the private sector.

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A CRADA can:

  • Provide incentives that help speed the commercialization of federally-developed technology.
  • Protect any proprietary information brought to the CRADA effort by the partner.
  • Allow all parties to the CRADA to keep research results emerging from the CRADA confidential and free from disclosure through the Freedom of Information Act for up to 5 years.
  • Allow the government and the partner to share patents and patent licenses.
  • Permit one partner to retain exclusive rights to a patent or patent license.

The CRADA is also intended to take into account the needs and desires of private industry when commercializing a product (e.g., the need for confidentiality and perhaps for exclusive rights to a product), as well as a reward structure for government initiators (e.g., sharing in royalties).

CRADAs establish the terms of sponsored collaborative research, generally with non-federal industry partners and are specifically designed to protect the parties’ prior inventions while allowing the government and private sector research partner(s) to negotiate management of any new discovery or intellectual property that may result from the collaboration.

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Updated: 8/14/2017

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