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Discovery September 1999

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by Becky Mahurin

One of the services that MSU provides to the private sector, when appropriate, is access to its research equipment, facilities and services. Montana has many small, technology-based companies that cannot afford fully equipped laboratories. Occasional access to university equipment or facilities may allow a company to bid on contracts or to perform research that it might not otherwise be able to do.

As much of our equipment has been funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), we must follow NSF guidelines in this area. "The National Science Foundation seeks the maximum productive use of the Nation's scientific instrumentation and research expertise," reads the agency's policy on the use of equipment purchased with its funds. "Ensuring that the highest quality instrumentation, facilities, and services are available to scientific users, both academic and industrial, is a key requirement. . . ."

The guidelines state that equipment funded by NSF may be used by the private sector unless they are used to "an extent that such practice, (1) detracts from the performance of their (grantees) obligation under the grant, and/or (2) may have a material and deleterious effect on the success of private companies engaged in the provision of equivalent services."

As a result, it would be appropriate for MSU to provide occasional use, especially to our research collaborators, but inappropriate to provide the sole equipment for a commercial company.

For details, please refer to the Facilities and Equipment Use Policy and Form. If you have additional questions, please call me at 994-7868.

Becky Mahurin
irector of the Technology Transfer Office at MSU.



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