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Master agreement gives P&G, universities, common starting point for research

It just got easier for Ohio colleges to collaborate with Procter & Gamble on research projects, thanks to a groundbreaking master agreement between P&G and Ohio's 14 state universities.

The agreement, announced April 22, is expected to lead to more P&G-university partnerships and increased commercialization of new technologies. But it also is seen as a template for agreements between the Ohio university system and other research-driven entities, says Noah Sudow, associate director economic advancement for the Ohio Board of Regents.

"I think our biggest next step is going to create that model that we can market to all business and say 'hey, we'll sign this with you right now,' Sudow says. "The goal is . . . to show how we can utilize the power of the university system to work with businesses."

The agreement, which governs treatment of intellectual property, licensing rights and when researchers can publish their findings, is the first of its kind in Ohio and may be the first in the nation, parties to the agreement say.

The five-year pact eliminates the need to negotiate agreements one-on-one with each university, drastically reducing the time needed up front, "where you could spend months negotiating (the rules) for what turned out to be two to three weeks of work," says P&G's Nick Nikolaides, university liaison for P&G global business development. "Getting rid of that up-front part and putting the focus on the project work really ought to catalyze more strategic collaborations in the long term."

The master agreement is patterned after a 2005 agreement with the University of Cincinnati.  Nikolaides says P&G invested nearly $20 million in university research projects across all business lines between 2006 and 2009, and the agreement should lead to additional investments with an increasing number of universities.

Sources: P&G: Nick Nikolaides, Chris Thoen (director, global open innovation) Rich Eggers (associate director global business development) and Mary Ralles (external relations manager, global business development); Board of Regents: Noah Sudow
Writer: Gene Monteith

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