Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs)

A Cooperative Research and Development Agreement, or CRADA, is a written agreement between a private, university, or other entity, and a NOAA Laboratory or Science Center to work together on a collaborative R&D project.  CRADAs are an important tool used by NOAA laboratories to engage in collaborative efforts with non-federal partners to achieve the goals of advancing our mission capabilities and encouraging technology transfer.  A CRADA allows NOAA and non-Federal partners to maximize their resources by sharing technical expertise in a protected environment.  Intellectual property emerging from the effort is similarly shared, which speeds the commercialization of any resulting technology.  

Under a CRADA, NOAA may contribute staff, facilities, expertise, and intellectual property to a collaboration, but not funding The CRADA, which is not an acquisition or procurement vehicle, is designed to be a relatively easy mechanism to implement, requiring less time and effort to initiate than previous methods for working with non-government organizations. The CRADA is also intended to take into account the needs and desires of private industry when commercializing a product.

A CRADA can:

  • Provide incentives that help speed up the commercialization of NOAA developed technology.
  • Protect any propriety information brought to the CRADA effort by the partner.
  • Allow all parties to keep research result emerging from the CRADA confidential and free from disclosure through the Freedom of Information Act for up to five years.
  • Allow NOAA and the partner to share patents and patent licenses.

Why use a CRADA?
The standard CRADA template has already been vetted and approved to ensure the rights of the U.S. Government are fully protected.  As a result, the CRADA is relatively simple to create and approve.  Once completed, the CRADA enables the partnership to move forward without any confusion over who owns the end product and how it can or cannot be used.  This simple document, when signed at the beginning of a new collaborative project, simplifies dispute resolution in the future and can save the lab and researcher endless hours of reconstructing conversations and compiling documents should a conflict arise between the partners.  

How is a CRADA different than an MOU or a Contract?
The documents are similar; however, the NOAA CRADA has been written with intellectual property rights in mind from the beginning. Therefore, future patenting, licensing, and similar activities can be expedited through the use of a CRADA.  MOUs may not contain details regarding ownership of intellectual property, which can pose difficulties later.
CRADAs are not contracting vehicles.  The CRADA does not allow for the transfer of US Government funds to an outside party.  

How do I Get Started?
To enter into a CRADA with NOAA, you must first have a Lab or Program that is interested in collaborating.  We recommend networking at scientific conferences or contacting a lab or program directly to discuss possible collaborations.   Information on your local NOAA facilities can be found on the NOAA in Your State web page.


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