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Collaborative and/or Shared Use of Cornell's Space and Facilities by Individuals and Companies Pursuing For-Profit Initiatives

Purpose of Document:

To provide resource information and university-wide guidelines for the use of Cornell space, facilities, services, etc. by for-profit individuals and companies. There are at least three known Policies related to this subject:

  1. Policy on Use of University Facilities: Open Session of the Executive Committee of the October 16, 1986, Trustees meeting and subsequent follow-up discussions and action.

  2. The University Policy on Conflicts of Interest.

  3. Cornell University Policy 4.3: Sales Activities on Campus, circulated in a Memorandum, dated May 5, 1994, to Deans, Directors, and Department Heads from Henrik N. Dullea.

Key Issues:

While every collaborative and/or shared use will be technology and/or program specific, there are several key issues that must be addressed. These include:

1. Retain University's real property tax exemption status: The activity must benefit education and/or research programs within the unit. If the activity is solely for the generation of revenue flow from unused space then that portion of the building/facility could lose its exemption status. This could be managed, but would require extensive accounting, i.e., annual audits and on/off accounting - with increased attention by appraisers, county and city governments. There are no exceptions to the tax exempt status on the main campus.

2. Retain accountability of unrelated income: Here, the issue is more manageable. Cornell pays tax on income that is determined to be unrelated to its mission as a tax-exempt educational institution - not an issue since amount is a very small fraction of total income.

3. University policy prohibits Cornell personnel from engaging in research on campus which is confidential or classified for security purposes. However, in exceptional cases of advanced study and research and the need for rapid dissemination of knowledge that will enhance productivity and contribute to the economic development of the state and nation, the university may grant permission for use of facilities by outside persons for proprietary or confidential purposes by petition after applying eight stringent criteria.

4. Space can not be rented. In lieu of rent an unrestricted grant of X value should be negotiated. X should include cost recovery. The grant document should discuss and define just what costs are to be recovered. Federal regulations generally require that the rates for collaborative and/or shared use must be at cost - not at market value. Another major issue is the facilities and administrative cost assessment associated with space use.

5. Safety and liability must be determined with general guidelines to be followed in each case. In general, the signature of an officer of the outside institution is required in order to release Cornell from liability and to commit the institution financially.

6. All real and/or appearance of conflicts of interest and time must be resolved for all prospective participants by full disclosure signed and agreed upon before venture begins. Conflict resolution can take considerable time - up to and exceeding 6 months.

7. Some other considerations and guidelines for corporate affiliates, alliances, and consortia members:

  • Appropriate courtesy appointments in centers or departments can be made with privileges to use Cornell libraries, athletic facilities along with other similar staff facilities.

  • Because their salaries are paid directly by the corporate sponsor, there is usually no facilities and administrative cost payment to cover related expenses. Therefore, in lieu of these facilities and administrative costs it is appropriate to negotiate a grant-in-aid to cover the related expenses. A reasonable measure of this grant-in-aid would be ten percent of the annual salary of the individual(s) involved. The grant-in-aid would be established as a restricted account under the control of the appropriate Dean or the Vice Provost.

  • All Cornell staff assignments must be controlled by the director of the facility.

  • Cornell retains the right to make individuals "persona non-grata".

  • Cornell can not give foreign individuals/companies more favorable position than U.S. individuals and companies nor Federal and NYS governments.