Technology Partnership Agreements
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We do not fund any projects under a technology partnership agreement. The partner provides the necessary resources and, in most cases, covers our costs of providing technical services.
NREL does provide funding opportunities through competitively placed contracts.
There are a variety of ways to partner with NREL using technology partnership agreements.
See the comparison of Partnership Agreement Types.
Agreements for Commercializing Technology
NREL uses agreements for commercializing technology (ACT) when a partner seeks highly specialized or technical services to complete a project. An ACT agreement also authorizes participating contractor-operated U.S. Department of Energy laboratories, such as NREL, to partner with businesses using more flexible terms that are aligned with industry practice.
Cooperative Research and Development Agreements
NREL uses a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) when a partner and the lab intend to collaborate on a project. It protects a company's and NREL's existing intellectual property, and allows the company to negotiate for an exclusive field-of-use license to subject inventions that arise during the CRADA's execution.
This CRADA is for joint research project between NREL and a partner to develop, advance, or commercialize an NREL-developed technology without funds changing hands. It must fit within the scope of a project at NREL that's funded by DOE.
This CRADA allows for the partner to pay for all or some of NREL's costs under the project. However, NREL does not provide funds to the partner.
Strategic Partnership Projects Agreements
NREL uses a strategic partnership projects (SPP) agreement, formerly known as a work-for-others (WFO) agreement, when a partner seeks technical services to complete a project but does not intend to perform joint research. The partner provides NREL with the necessary resources and fully covers the costs of the work to be performed.
This SPP is used when a federal agency other than the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) funds NREL's work directly. The agreement is negotiated and entered into between DOE and the agency.
With this SPP, a nonfederal entity pays NREL to conduct a research-oriented project. This version of the nonfederal SPP has no agreement value limit and has intellectual property provisions which address inventions.
Technical Services Agreement
A technical services agreement (TSA) is suitable for projects $500,000 or less in value, up to three years in duration, and funded entirely by the sponsor for services which would not be expected to result in any inventions. A TSA cannot be used for agreements with federal agencies. It has been preapproved by DOE, which means that terms cannot be changed.
Under these agreements, partners are able to use the Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) which has been designated by DOE as a user facility to develop and evaluate energy technologies.
DOE funds NREL's work under a Non-Proprietary User Agreement and NREL staff may participate in the research.
NREL staff does not participate in the research work under a Proprietary User Agreement, but the partner will be required to fund staff time to set-up and oversee the project.
During the first step, the NREL contact and the potential partner discuss the proposed project. To discuss a potential project, find NREL contacts by area.
NREL determines whether a proposed project meets the laboratory's qualifications for a technology partnership agreement. If the project meets NREL's qualifications, the partner and NREL will determine the appropriate type of technology partnership agreement to develop.
Once the partner and NREL determine what type of technology partnership agreement to use, they work together to develop a statement of work, which includes project scope, costs, deliverables, and schedule. Statements of work for funds-in agreements and CRADAs will be submitted to DOE for approval.
NREL drafts an agreement that includes the terms and conditions, and provides it to the partner. As appropriate, NREL may negotiate the technology partnership agreement with the partner.
Once a final version has been agreed upon, the appropriate parties sign the technology partnership agreement. CRADAs will be submitted to DOE for signature as well.
After the agreement is signed, the partner sends funds to NREL. Once NREL receives, processes, and authorizes the funds, which may take 5-15 business days, work may start under the technology partnership agreement. Note: This does not apply to shared-resource CRADAs, which can begin work as soon as DOE final approval has been received.
Both NREL and the partner manage their work and deliverables to achieve the project's goal towards commercialization.
NREL generally expects technology partnership agreements to be executed within 45 business days. Longer timelines are generally the result of extended negotiations regarding agreement terms, partner funding delays, and/or negotiations related to the scope of work.