This guide provides an overview of the most common types of agreements made between the University and outside organizations.

Most agreements set specific requirements for transfer of funds or other assistance from one institution to another; other types of agreements do not include financial assistance. The agreement types listed here are reviewed, negotiated, and approved by the Sponsored Projects Office, on behalf of the Regents of the University of California, except where noted otherwise.

Sponsored agreements set out requirements for accepting funds in support of a specific project or program. The requirements (“terms and conditions”) included in these agreements usually specify time periods for expending funds and contain provisions for financial and technical reporting and intellectual property assignments, including patents and copyrights.


A grant is a type of financial or other assistance awarded to an organization for the conduct of research or other program as specified in an approved proposal. A grant is used when the sponsor anticipates no substantial programmatic involvement during the performance of the project. Grants are the most commonly used type of sponsored agreement.


A contract is used when the principal purpose of the agreement is to provide tangible results or other “deliverable” items or to carry out a prescribed service for the direct benefit or use of the funding agency. Payment is contingent upon performance.

Many types of contracts exist. The most common type on campus is the cost-reimbursement contract, in which the sponsor pays for the full costs incurred in the conduct of the work up to an agreed-upon amount. (Note that grants can also be cost-reimbursement.) The campus accepts fixed-price contracts when appropriate. Fixed price means that the awarding agency pays a predetermined amount rather than reimbursing actual expenditures.

Cooperative Agreement

A cooperative agreement is used when the purpose of the agreement is similar to that of a grant, but substantial programmatic involvement of or coordination by the funding agency is anticipated during the project.

Subaward or Subcontract

A collaborative subaward is written under the authority of and consistent with the terms and conditions of an award (a grant, contract or cooperative agreement) that transfers a portion of the research or substantive effort of the Berkeley prime award to another institution or organization. These agreements, commonly referred to as subcontracts, can be in the form of a subgrant, subcontract, or subagreement. SPO is responsible for issuing collaborative awards.

Intercampus Suballocation

An intercampus suballocation is the term for a subaward transferring funds between two campuses of the University of California. The agreement takes the form of a brief memo from one campus to the other. As with other subawards, an intercampus suballocation from one UC campus typically passes on to the other campus the same terms and conditions of the prime award from the funding agency.

Intra-University Transaction

An intra-university transaction (IUT) is the award mechanism for a Department of Energy laboratory managed by the University of California to award research funds to a UC campus. The IUT is governed by the policies of a master memorandum agreement.

Consulting Agreement

A consultant is an independent contractor hired to provide expert advice for short or intermittent time periods. See Supply Chain Management: Independent Consultants for more information.

Unfunded Agreements

Researchers often collaborate on research or share research tools with other scientists or institutions without receiving funding. For many unfunded collaborations, a written agreement is beneficial or necessary. Unfunded agreements set out expectations, terms, and requirements to protect the interests of the investigators and the participating organizations. Such agreements may also involve use of university property and space, faculty time, students, protocol for human and animal subjects that must be approved by university officials and compliance committees. Unfunded agreements from industry often contain restrictive language that may conflict with basic academic and intellectual property rights, and other terms that must be negotiated.

Memorandum of Understanding/Collaboration Agreement

A memorandum of understanding, or MOU, is an agreement that specifies mutually agreed-upon expectations between two (or more) entities to collaborate on a project without exchange of funds. MOUs take many forms and may be referred to by other titles, for example, Memorandum of Agreement. MOUs can carry the same obligations as contracts, so principal investigators should not enter into such agreements without prior review by the appropriate central office.

Teaming Agreement

A teaming agreement is used when two or more parties want to collaborate in producing a proposal in response to a solicitation. All parties agree in advance how they will work together and that they will work together if the award is made.

Visitor Agreement

An agreement is sometimes required by the employer of a visiting fellow or other industrial visitor to campus. The visitor agreement specifies terms of their participation in research on campus, often addressing issues such as intellectual property rights.

Material Transfer Agreement

A material transfer agreement (MTA) is a contract that governs the transfer of tangible research materials (usually biological) between two organizations. The Industry Alliances Office negotiates the MTA when a Berkeley investigator wishes to receive materials from another institution. The Office of Technology Licensing handles MTAs to transfer research materials from Berkeley to outside institutions.

Data Use Agreement

A research data use agreement (DUA) governs access to and treatment of data provided by an outside organization to UC Berkeley for use in UC Berkeley research. Data may be unstructured or structured, but are not accompanied by a license agreement. The Industry Alliances Office reviews and executes DUAs.


Unlike funds governed by agreements, gifts are awarded irrevocably and without contractual requirements (“no strings attached”). University Development and Alumni Relations, on behalf of the Regents, accepts funds awarded by an external agency, institution, or individual in the form of a gift or donation.

Gifts/Grants Distinction:

Campus Contacts