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University of Michigan Innovation Partnerships
University of Michigan Innovation Partnerships

Research Tools

Policies for Sharing Research Tools and Biomaterials

To accelerate scientific discoveries and to benefit the greater research community, principal investigators and funding recipient institutions are expected to ensure broad and timely dissemination of their research resources.

What are research tools and biomaterials?

Common examples of research resources or research materials include:

  • antibodies, peptides and engineered proteins
  • small molecules, antisense oligonucleotides
  • research reagents
  • expression plasmids and proteins derived from them
  • cell surface receptors
  • cell lines
  • animal models (e.g., knockout mice)
  • research devices

Other research resources or materials include biological or other materials that are:

  • primarily useful for research purposes, such as in data related to the elucidation of disease mechanisms or to drug discovery;
  • finished products that often do not require further development time and development costs in order to be utilized; or
  • broadly enabling inventions, useful in developing multiple products in numerous disciplines, rather than a single project-specific or product-specific use.

What are a project team’s obligations with research tools?

Principal investigators and institutions that receive federal research funding are expected to disseminate research resources (research tools) broadly and in a timely manner. Failure to share these research tools can lead to unnecessarily redundant research and delays in scientific innovation.

U-M Guidelines for Compliance

Under Innovation Partnerships policy and the terms of most funding agreements, researchers have an obligation to promptly disclose to Innovation Partnerships any research tools capable of being used by others, whether a patent is being sought or not.

Ease of sharing

Innovation Partnerships has partnerships with third-party partners who can assist U-M researchers in maintaining and providing research tools to parties requesting access. This eliminates the burden on researchers having to produce and ship research tools every time a request is made. Therefore, by disclosing your research tool to Innovation Partnerships, you can off-load having to respond to future requests while better enabling the research community to access your tools.

Value of Research Tool Sharing


How do I know if my research material is an invention?
Should I disclose research tools?
What is a Biological Material/Research Tool Report (disclosure)?
Can I report research tools generated previously and stored in the laboratory?
What happens after I report my research tools to Innovation Partnerships?
Is there any financial return for sharing research tools?
When should I disclose my research tool?
Do I need a publication to report research tools?

Innovation Partnerships Can Help

U-M Researchers can submit and share their research tools via Innovation Partnerships’ online innovation disclosure form. Click the Online Report Submission button to access the disclosure reporting system. Alternatively, a Word version of the Research Tool or Biomaterials Report can be requested, email Innovation Partnerships then works with investigators to add disclosed resources to a Research Tool Portfolio and recommends dissemination strategies.

If you have questions or need further assistance, please call Innovation Partnerships at 734-763-0614.