Agreement on how to distribute grant money will prevent delays

by Melinda Rogers

University faculty anxiously awaiting the start of some new research projects can now avoid red tape because of a recent agreement signed with General Motors.
General Motors signed a pre-negotiated contract with the University to establish standards on how the company will distribute research grants to the University.
“This is going to be the wave of the future. Signing agreements with large companies in Minnesota and nationally will facilitate business between the University and these companies,” said Rick Ramseyer, grant manager for business and industry at the University.
“It will make the University stronger, more accessible (to businesses) and much more sought after,” he said.
During a pre-negotiation session between the University and General Motors, all aspects of research contracts were decided except the scope and budget of projects, allowing more time to be spent planning and enacting research projects.
With less time spent negotiating contracts, delays will be prevented when a new research project is beginning.
“It shortens the time it takes to get a project off the ground considerably,” said Christine Maziar, vice president for research.
The type of contract used, known as a master research agreement, has never been used before in University history. Maziar sees using the new method as a positive change.
“We’re able to use the same contract for each project and we only have to do contract negotiating once. It’s much more efficient and it saves cost because the University uses less staff time (negotiating) and so does General Motors,” she said.
While many projects are expected to come out of the University agreement with General Motors, one of the first involves researchers in the departments of chemistry and chemical engineering who will study the synthesis and processing of polymer composite materials.
“We want to make more parts on the outside of cars plastic … I’m very excited about this,” said Chris Macosko, a researcher from the department of chemical engineering.
The project is just one example of the relationship the University has built with General Motors over the years.
Maziar said working with General Motors has been a positive experience so far and hopes that the relationship will continue to benefit the University in the future.
“We’ve recognized General Motors as a current funder and General Motors has recognized the University as a likely institution to donate research grants to in the future,” Maziar said.
“General Motors was very proud to be a part of this development with the University,” she concluded.

Melinda Rogers welcomes comments at [email protected]