Research Legal Services

Research Legal Services (RLS) provides specialist legal services to support University research and its translation to industry and the community.

We answer questions about the intellectual property our researchers create or use, and review the grants that fund future-shaping research. We advise on contracts with government and industry for research, consulting and commercialisation, enabling the University research to have impact in Australia and overseas. We form a key part of project teams spinning out University technology into new start up enterprises, and shape collaborations allowing our researchers to work with partners around the world.

How we work

We work primarily with Division of Research and Innovation staff to provide comprehensive project support for researchers.

If you require RLS support, please contact in the first instance:

What we do

We work with University researchers, business managers and others to identify, advise and provide solutions on legal matters relating to the University’s research and consultancy activities in the following areas:

  • Research grants

    RLS supports the Division of Research and Innovation and the Research Grants Unit (RGU) by providing legal advice and solutions and in drafting agreements in connection with major research funders and research collaborations. These activities include:

    • Membership of research consortia both nationally and internationally
    • Establishing strategic alliances, partnerships subordinate agreements
    • Support for international research engagements including establishment of Memorandums of Understanding and other collaborative research agreements with a broad range of companies and universities in accordance with the International Agreements Policy
    • Working with the RGU to complete funding and subordinate agreements across a range of schemes that includes:
    • State funding agencies such as the Department of State Development for projects of strategic interest to the State; e.g. the Premier’s Research & Innovation Fund Program and Photonics Catalyst Program
    • Federal Government agencies such as Australian Research Council and its major strategic research programs including Co-operative Research Centres, Industrial Transformation Training Centres, Industrial Transformation Research Hubs and ARC Linkage projects
    • Research & Development Corporations such as the Grains Research & Development Corporation, Meat and Livestock Australia and others including subordinate arrangements
    • National Health and Medical Research Council including commercially focused Development Grants
    • Complex grant funding programs such as ARENA involving multiple parties, including advising on structuring of intellectual property ownership, commercialisation and governance arrangements.
    • Support for university research relationships with Health Area Networks and SAHMRI
    • Advising on compliance issues including with respect to the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research and other obligations
    • Reviewing and advising on clinical trials both university sponsored and industry sponsored
  • Contract Research and Consultancies

    RLS supports Business Development through the provision of advice and other legal services with respect to contract research and consulting activities through which the expertise of University researchers is provided to government, industry and the community. These activities include:

    • Master services agreements and single consultancies
    • Establishing contract research agreements
    • Advising and structuring collaborative research agreements
    • Advising and drafting strategic partnerships with industry and various subordinate agreements
    • Supporting specialised business unit activities
    • Establishing access to University testing and analytical services
    • Advising on expert witness arrangements
    • Putting in place facility access agreements under which access to University research facilities is managed
    • Facilitating access to materials for research under Material Transfer Agreements
    • Supporting discussions around research projects and commercialisation through the protection of Confidentiality Agreements
    • Advising on the involvement of students and affiliates or visitors in research projects and preparing appropriate documentation
  • Commercialisation

    RLS works with Commercialisation in connection with the capture and translation of research outputs in the form of know-how, patented inventions, Plant Breeders Rights, copyright works including software and other forms of intellectual property. These assets are often used in contract and collaborative research, licensing or in establishing new spin-outs. These activities include:

    • Assisting with due diligence and securing ownership of intellectual property by establishing appropriate agreements such as IP assignments with third parties, staff or students as required
    • Drafting documentation to secure access to intellectual property that might involve joint ownership with a third party and documenting commercialisation arrangements
    • Advising on and preparing licensing agreements
    • Advising on inventor distribution agreements
    • Drafting and reviewing documentation for the creation of start-up companies including Shareholders Agreements, Subscription Agreements, Constitutions
    • Reviewing and advising on Agreements relating to venture capital investment in University IP
  • Students and Intellectual Property

    RLS advises schools and other Divisions within the University on a range of undergraduate student projects as well as assisting the Adelaide Graduate Research School in relation to intellectual property related matters involving PhD students and Masters by Research. This includes:

    • advising on industry funded student support in the nature of top up and full scholarships
    • advising on the requirements for Student IP Deed Polls to secure IP assignments and embargoes on students’ theses
    • drafting agreements to record ownership of intellectual property with a student’s employer
    • drafting visitor agreements for students from other universities
    • putting in place confidentiality and data access agreements to assist HDRs (in particular to access commercially sensitive data for student projects)
  • Adelaide Research & Innovation Pty Ltd

    Adelaide Research & Innovation Pty Ltd (ARI) was the commercial development company of the University of Adelaide until 1 July 2016 when a decision was made to bring ARI into the University.  The University established two offices, namely Business Development and Commercialisation to undertake activities previously conducted by ARI.

    The ARI company is still in existence and the University has agreed that ARI will be required up until 2020.

    In the meantime RLS continues to support the Board which comprises the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research Strategy), the Chief Finance Officer and the Chief Operating Officer, ARI.


In the first instance, please direct enquiries to the relevant contact in Commercialisation, Business DevelopmentResearch Services or your Faculty contact.

A list of Research Legal Services staff and their portfolio areas is available on the Legal and Risk People webpage.