BootcampC: Funder or collaborator barriers to commercial exploitation

Funder or collaborator barriers to commercial exploitation

Section 4 of 5

Fence cropImage: Fence [cropped], Tama66, Public Domain

You may be restricted in what you can do with your research outputs by the terms of your grant agreement, or by the terms of your contract with any collaborating institutions or industry partners.

Funding bodies

Generally, most major UK funding bodies permit restrictions or delays in data sharing in order to capitalise on intellectual property rights. Exceptions include:

  • AHRC - plans for commercialisation must be outlined in grant applications, otherwise the expectation is that research outputs will be made freely available
  • MRC and the Wellcome Trust - you should discuss plans for commercialisation with their respective Technology Transfer divisions prior to data collection
  • NERC - data generated as part of a NERC-funded project must be made publicly available via a NERC data centre. The data owner must grant NERC a nonexclusive licence to allow NERC to manage and supply the data for reuse. Note that ‘information products’, including model codes, are not covered by the NERC data policy and may be commercialised.


Provided your funder is not one of the exceptions listed above, you may be able to meet expectations on data sharing and still commercialise your research by publishing data with embargo or access/usage restrictions. Contact Research Commercialisation to find out what embargo or access restrictions are required, and then contact the Research Data Service or your chosen repository to set them up. This should be done as early as possible, and ideally well before you start submitting papers for publication.


Collaboration agreements will often place restrictions on what can be done with research outputs, including data publication and commercial exploitation. This includes agreements with other universities as well as industrial or other partners.

Restrictions on commercial use of research outputs should be established at the planning stage of a research project via appropriate contractual agreements. Contact the RED Contracts Team for help in setting up collaboration agreements that will allow you to commercialise your research, or to find out what the terms in your existing agreement are.

1. Dupinder has been funded by NERC to collect atmospheric data and has built a model based on this data. Which elements of his work can he commercially exploit?