Some of MIT’s faculty have hosted or received requests to host fellows from the Netherlands on Rubicon fellowships, funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). Rubicon fellowships require significant negotiation for MIT to accept the awards.
The NWO General Provisions give NWO ownership of any intellectual property developed by the fellow while at MIT. However, MIT policy requires a visiting researcher to assign all intellectual property they create while at MIT to MIT (and sign an Invention and Proprietary Information Agreement to that effect).
To let MIT host Rubicon fellows, MIT’s leadership has allowed a special exception to the MIT visiting researcher policy. Under this exception, MIT can host Rubicon fellows if the following requirements are met:
- The fellow will work on their own defined project, the subject of which does not overlap with that of any current or foreseeable non-federally sponsored research project conducted in the host faculty member’s lab
- The sending institution agrees to provide a “bench fee” to MIT (for Rubicon fellowships, this is usually in the form of research costs and overhead)
- The sending institution agrees that any intellectual property created by the Fellow while at MIT will be jointly owned by the sending institution and MIT.
These conditions must be agreed to in the Rubicon Award Agreement between NWO and MIT. In addition, at the proposal stage, the hosting PI must complete RUBICON Supplemental Proposal Routing Form, which asks for a list of current, pending and anticipated research awards and whether there is any overlap between the Rubicon fellow’s project and the research project supported by the award.
Some Rubicon fellowships contain a troublesome “clawback” provision allowing NWO to reclaim the funds paid to MIT and the fellow (retroactively if necessary) for any reason. If NWO will not agree to remove this term during negotiations, RAS will only be able to accept the fellowship if the hosting PI confirms via email that they are willing to use funds in a discretionary account to cover any potential liability under such a “clawback” provision (basically an amount equal to the full amount of the fellowship grant) and provides RAS with the discretionary account number.