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Nondisclosure Agreements

NREL's nondisclosure agreement (NDA) process ensures the strict confidentiality of proprietary or confidential information between the laboratory and a partner. We've established this process to develop mutually beneficial R&D collaborations in a straightforward, flexible, timely, and efficient manner.


The nondisclosure agreement process basically includes eight steps. We are committed to working through these steps in a timely manner. Experience suggests that the fastest means to reach an agreement is through direct communications to create understanding and agree on actions.

1. Identify Need

The first step involves identifying the need for a nondisclosure agreement. To make its decision, NREL uses the U.S. Department of Energy's definitions of proprietary information, and it determines whether such an agreement will advance NREL's mission. It is not NREL's practice to disclose innovations or NREL inventions for which patent applications have not been filed even under the terms of a nondisclosure agreement, unless there is a compelling business reason to do so.

2. Share Requirements

If there's a need for a nondisclosure agreement, NREL and the other party share their requirements. NREL requires that nondisclosure agreements include the following elements:

  • Purpose
  • Description of the proprietary or confidential information to be shared in nonproprietary terms
  • Exclusions to the nondisclosure of information
  • Specific duration of the nondisclosure agreement
  • Identification of individuals and titles, along with full contact information, authorized to execute the agreement for each organization.

3. Determine Whose Nondisclosure Agreement to Use

Which party's nondisclosure agreement to use is determined by whether the proprietary information comes from NREL, the other party, or both.

  • If NREL's proprietary information is disclosed, NREL's nondisclosure agreement is used.

  • If the other party's proprietary information is disclosed, either an NREL or the other party's nondisclosure agreement may be used.

  • If both parties disclose proprietary information, we start with NREL's nondisclosure agreement.

In either one of these cases, NREL will work with the other party to ensure that the final nondisclosure agreement addresses our requirements and those of the other party.

4. Fill in Information

After determining the type of nondisclosure agreement, NREL and/or the other party fill in the information specific to the intended disclosure on the agreement form.

5. Review and Negotiate

NREL will review the completed form and, if needed, negotiate revisions to agreement terms with the other party during this step in the process.

6. Review and Sign

Once the nondisclosure agreement has been finalized, designated signatories will review and sign the form.

7. Share Information or Material

Once the nondisclosure agreement has been executed, appropriately labeled information or material is shared.

8. Maintain Records

NREL and the other party then maintain records of the nondisclosure agreement and the proprietary or confidential information as required for business practices and governance.


NREL generally expects that nondisclosure agreements can be executed within one week. Longer timelines are generally the result of having incomplete information. If you have a question regarding the status of a nondisclosure agreement, please call your technical contact.

Sample Agreements

Here you'll find examples of NREL's model nondisclosure agreements. These documents are available as PDFs.

Unilateral NREL Nondisclosure Agreement
NREL provides its proprietary information to the other party.

Unilateral Company Nondisclosure Agreement
The other party provides proprietary information to NREL.

Bilateral Nondisclosure Agreement
Both NREL and the other party provide proprietary information to each other.


If you have any questions about NREL's nondisclosure agreement process, contact Katelin Wheeler, 303-384-7378.


NREL strives to quickly resolve any issue or concern you may have regarding its technology partnership agreement activities. To learn more about our informal resolution process, see information about NREL's Technology Transfer Ombuds.