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  1. Research funding agreements
  2. Research support agreements
  3. Institutional, service and other agreements


A research agreement is normally negotiated and signed between the university and the sponsor. Each research agreement should be reviewed and endorsed by Research Services. The purpose is to ensure that the researchers’ and university’s rights are protected, and that the terms and conditions of the agreement do not conflict with SFU policies.

Below is a brief description of three purpose-driven categories of more usual research-related contracts for which the Research Contracts team provides assistance. You can also download Research-Related Contract Types for detailed information about each agreement.

Research funding agreements


Grant or Grant-in-aid Agreement

A Grant or Grant-in-aid Agreement is an award letter or short agreement used by public granting agencies, foundations, other non-profit organizations (e.g. SSHRC, NSERC, CIHR, NIH, USAID, the European Union, Wellcome Trust, etc.), and occasionally even some industry sponsors  to provide funding for either general or specific research.


Research Agreement

A Research Agreement is a formal agreement used by industry, government, and NGOs to support and fund specific research under detailed terms.  The agreements take various names, including Sponsored Research Agreement (SRA), Collaborative Research Agreement (CRA), Master Research Agreement (MRA), Project Agreement (e.g. Mitacs, Engage, etc.), Funding Agreement, and Contribution Agreement.  A Research Agreement is more detailed and generally deal with more matters than a Grant Agreement.  Please see "Institutional, Service, and Other Agreements" below if a Research Agreement does not seem adequate for the collaboration or research project under consideration.


Subgrant and Subcontract

A Subgrant or Subcontract (generically a “Sub”) is a letter or agreement used when a Grant or Research Agreement (the “Prime”) is already in place at one institution (the “Primary Institution”) and part of the funded research is to be conducted at, and part of the funding is to be transferred to, another institution (the “Secondary Institution”). Subs can be either (i) incoming - where the Primary Institution is engaging SFU as a Secondary Institution to conduct part of the research, or (ii) outgoing – where SFU is the Primary Institution engaging a Secondary Institution to conduct part of the research.

Research support agreements


Non-Disclosure or Confidentiality Agreement

Please see the Non-Disclosure or Confidentiality Agreement page for details.


Material Transfer Agreement

Please see the Material Transfer Agreement page for details.


Data Sharing/Access Agreement

A Data Sharing/Access Agreement (DAA) is used when the university is receiving or supplying access to data or data sets required for a research project. Specific security, ethical, and import or export permit requirements must be considered. In most circumstances the supplier of the data compiles or provides the DAA.


Research Member Agreement

Project Member Agreements (PMA) are used to enable PI’s at SFU to have common direction and control over their research group.  In this regard, research groups under the direction of specific faculty members or PIs perform a significant portion of the research at SFU.  For various reasons, it is advisable that the operations of certain groups, either generally or with regard to a specific project, be contractually under the direction and control of the PI.

Institutional, service, and other agreements


Memorandum of Understanding

Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) are used in the research context to establish high-level relationships and the basis for future research projects or collaborations. They may or may not be binding agreements depending on their purpose and the provisions written into the MOU and should not be assumed to be non-binding. Generally, they anticipate further agreements along the lines of the general themes addressed in the MOU.


Collaboration Agreement

Collaboration Agreements are used where two or three parties contribute on a research project through scientific participation or other contributions, such as background IP. The contract sets out the agreement among the parties for the conduct of the research, but does not usually include terms under which the research funding is being received other than that it will be received under separate document. 


Consortium Agreement

Consortium Agreements are similar to Collaboration Agreements and used when collaborators at three or more differing institutions or companies are working together on a research project or on multiple research projects under one or more specified research themes. The contract sets out the agreement among the parties for the conduct of the research and does not usually include terms under which the research funding is being received other than that it will be received under separate document.


Service Level Agreement (SLA)

Service Level Agreements are negotiated agreements between two parties where one is the client and the other is the service provider. The SLA records a common understanding of the deliverables, completion criteria, schedule for delivery of services, responsibilities, and fees.


Consulting Agreement

Consulting Agreements are used when expertise, advice and work on a particular field is being provided. The payment terms are generally based on a fee-for-service arrangement.


Agreement for Research Services under a Collaboration

Agreements for Research Services under a Collaboration are a specialized procurement agreement used in unusual situations where research funding received by SFU cannot be subgranted to a collaborative institution.  Normally that would require SFU enter into standard form procurement agreements contracting for particular services between not-for-profit collaborators.


Amending Agreement/Amendments

Amending Agreements or Amendments are simply agreements that amend (e.g. extend) or terminate a prior contract.


Other Agreements

ORS Research Contracts team also provides assistance for other agreements, such as Affiliation Agreement, Inter-institutional Agreement, Network Agreement, Chair Agreement, and Analytical Testing Agreement. Please download Research-Related Contract Types if you would like to know more about these agreements. You can also contact Research Services ( if you are not sure which agreement you will need.

Last updated: February 15, 2023