Research contract relationship between a large industry partner and South African universities


  • Cornelia Malherbe 1.Division for Research Development, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa; 2.Department of Industrial Engineering, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa
  • C. Johan H. Nel Legal, Intellectual Property and Compliance Services, Sasol, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Cornelius S.L. Schutte Department of Industrial Engineering, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa



industry, university, contract, research, legislation


We propose and evaluate a contractual structuring instrument (in the form of a Framework Research Agreement) in support of research collaboration partnerships between universities and large industry, specifically for the case of large industry in the South African context. This study includes one large South African originated industry (as the pioneer of concluding Framework Research Agreements with several universities) and multiple South African universities, and stretches over several decades. This study was done within the broader context of the challenges and benefits experienced by both industry and university in the academic engagement sphere of industry–university collaboration. By providing insight from both industry and university perspectives, factors impacting on academic engagement (with specific emphasis on the legislative framework, contractual aspects, institutional research contract practices and institutional risks), are considered and discussed. Recommendations are made for improved industry–university collaboration by sharing experiences from the industry and universities on challenges faced, managing the expectations and proposing mechanisms to support constructive research collaboration through a mutually beneficial contractual framework instrument.


  • A novel Framework Research Agreement as a contractual instrument was developed and pioneered by the industry partner with several South African universities, to create a transparent framework based on fair contracting and determinable remuneration principles.
  • This study specifically highlights the need for a contractual instrument, in which the intention is to build a long-term contractual relationship to support industry–university collaboration and academic engagement within the existing South African legislative framework.
  • It further draws attention to research contract management practices and contractual aspects, which until now have been largely ignored in industry–university collaboration and academic engagement frameworks of this kind.


Metrics Loading ...


2022-03-29 — Updated on 2022-03-30


How to Cite

Malherbe, C., Nel, C. J. H., & Schutte, C. S. (2022). Research contract relationship between a large industry partner and South African universities. South African Journal of Science, 118(3/4). (Original work published March 29, 2022)



Research Article
  • Abstract 989
  • PDF 919
  • EPUB 519
  • XML 522
  • Supplementary material 0