3 Ways to Increase Your Chances of Winning University Research Contracts

Published9th May 2022

University Research Contracts – The Ins & Outs

Securing university research contracts can present lucrative opportunities to research business. Essentially, they aim to further the academic mission of a university. Scientific understanding will be increased, or new conceptual ideas and inventions will be created through the research contract. Due to the number of universities, there are usually opportunities to bid for university research contracts. With this blog, we’ll clear some confusion, and offer some tips to help you write these contracts.

The types of university research contracts you can come across are expansive, including;

  • Amendments / Amending Agreements
  • Collaboration Agreements
  • Consortium Agreements (multiparty collaboration agreements)
  • Data Access / Data Sharing Agreements
  • Equipment Loan Agreements
  • Facilities Access Agreements
  • Framework Agreements
  • Heads of Terms (HoTs)
  • Material Transfer Agreements and more.

MoU vs NDA…What’s the difference?

If you’re working on university research contracts, it’s likely that you’ve encountered Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) and Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs). We’ve noticed our clients confusing these on many occasions, so here are the differences. Non-Disclosure Agreements occur between two parties when there is a need for security regarding sensitive information. NDAs can take place either before or after an agreement. The main difference is that it’s legally binding, in that there are serious consequences if one party breaks the terms.

Compare this to a Memorandum of Understanding, you can clearly see the difference.

When two parties begin a relationship, they often enter into an MoU first to express their desire to work together. Strictly speaking, an MoU doesn’t create a binding contract and therefore doesn’t compel the parties to enter into a relationship. Parties to an MoU can walk away from the MoU if they feel that it is not meeting their requirements. Sometimes, an MoU can even be used during the probation period.

3 tips to improve your chances of winning university research contract tenders

1.    Don’t hesitate to sub-contract!

One of, if not, the best ways to build your experience in bidding for university research contracts is by subcontracting. This way you’re gaining on the ground experience, and your size as a company matters less in the delivery. It’s the best way to learn the proverbial ropes and understand the tendering process from the ground up! Subcontracting can be seen as a steppingstone to winning larger university research contracts, where you’re the main contractor.

2.    Managing your bid effectively

If you’re familiar with the tendering process already, you’ll know how much work goes into your bid. The last thing you want is a late submission which essentially makes all your hard work redundant. Always keep your team on their toes! Organise progress meetings to check in with everyone. These will really highlight each person’s individual contributions to the larger team. Alongside this, set internal deadlines so you’re keeping up to date with your own progress. There are many more bid management strategies that you can adopy to stay on track.

3.    Providing relevant case studies

When you’re providing evidence for university research contracts (such as case studies), it’s advised that they’re relevant. This sounds obvious but too many suppliers throw irrelevant case studies and testimonials out there and hope for the best. Make sure to frame your evidence around the tender, ensuring a close fit. The closer your evidence is to the research contract, the better.

Where can I source university research contracts?

Running your own business takes up a lot of your time. The last thing you want to be doing is trawling through hundreds of websites and searching for university research contracts. Luckily for you, we have a solution.

Enter…Research Tenders.

Research Tenders is an easy-to-navigate, centralised portal hosting live research tender opportunities from across the UK.

Below are 5 past examples of university research contracts sourced on our portal:

Employee Survey and Analysis or Associated Employee Engagement for 2gether Support Solutions

East Kent Hospitals University – South East – £18k

GB-Leeds: PE2021-22/814 Citizen Science Projects – Digital Platform Research

University of Leeds – Yorkshire and Humber – Budget: £25k

High-Fidelity Sequencing, With Results Data for Two Plant Tissue De Novo Sequencing Projects

The University of Nottingham – Eat Midlands – Budget: £46k

PURCON1013 – Civic University Collaborative Platform

University of East Anglia – Eastern – Budget: £50k

Scotland’s Centre of Expertise on Climate Change – ClimateXChange Postdoctoral Research Fellow Grant

University of Edinburgh – Scotland – Budget: £135k

A subscription to Research Tenders can offer your business: 

Access to all exclusive, public and private sector website tenders in the UK.

  • An on-hand Account Manager is available to answer any questions you may have about tenders for university research. They can help you understand the procurement process and answer any questions you have about the tendering process in general.
  • A daily email bulletin is sent straight to your inbox when new, sector-specific opportunities are uploaded.
  • Discounted support from Hudson Succeed, our bid writing division.
  • 20-minutes of free consultancy with one of our Bid Consultants each month.

You’ll have 24-hour access to our Research Tenders portal where you will find opportunities for:

  • Market Research
  • Academic Research
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Qualitative and Quantitative Research
  • Survey tenders and many more.
  • Book a free live demo with Research Tenders to see how we can help your business grow.

In summary

So, we’ve arrived at the finish line to this blog on university research contracts. You’re now aware of the complexity of university research contracts, alongside where to find them. What if you need a recap? Not to worry…

  • Where can I source university research contracts? – An exploration of the smart option when it comes to sourcing university research
  • MoU vs NDA – What’s the difference? – When it comes down to it, MoUs take place before the contract, and they are not legally binding. NDAs on the other hand are legally binding and can take place just after the contract ends.
  • 3 tips to help your university research tenders succeed:
  1. Don’t hesitate to sub-contract! – Understanding the wealth of experience offered with sub-contracting.
  2. Managing your bid effectively – Using strategies such as progress meetings and setting internal deadlines to ensure you submit your bid on time.
  3. Including relevant case studies – Ensuring that your evidence falls in line with the university research contract.


Need help writing your next tender?

If you don’t have the resources or time to write a winning bid, why not outsource it? Our sister company, Hudson Succeed, boasts an 87% success rate and have over 60 years of collective bidding experience. They offer four bid writing support packages to help you on the path to success. Whether you’re new to tendering, or simply need someone to proof your written response before you submit – we can help.

Tender Ready

Our Tender Ready programme is designed for those who have never tendered before. This 4-week programme works with you to ensure you have everything in place to tender successfully.

Tender Improvement

Tender Improvement can help if you’re already tendering but aren’t seeing success from your current efforts. Our Bid Writers will assess your previous submissions and supporting documents. They’ll give you feedback and guidance on how to improve, helping you to secure university research contracts.

Tender Mentor

If you’ve written a tender and need someone to proofread it – Tender Mentor is for you. A Bid Writer will double-check it’s in line with the specification and free of any grammar or spelling mistakes.

Tender Writing

If you’ve found the perfect tender but don’t know where to start – we can help. Send the specification over to us and our Bid Team will do the rest. They’ll let you know what they need from you and provide you with a full breakdown. They’ll even submit it on your behalf, leaving you more time to focus on your business.

Get in touch to find out more information.

Want to save even more time?

Upgrading to Discover Elite will ensure you never miss a tendering opportunity even when you’re busy!

The Ultimate Time-Saving Tool offers your business:

  • An annual subscription to a maximum of two Discover portals of your choice.
  • Up to five bid breakdowns per month to help you make your bid or no-bid decisions.
  • Weekly phone calls with your Account Manager to discuss viable leads and tendering opportunities.
  • Award and pre-market engagement notices monitored on your behalf.
  • Public and private buyer portal management including registering, password management, downloading documents and assessing viability based on your bid strategy.

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