The laboratory offers various types of industrial cooperation:
- Research and development projects (if required with integration of student research projects)
- Cooperation agreements
- Contract for work and services
The basis of all project types is a common understanding of the individual project which has to be established through several meetings followed by a first analysis of the current situation. This basis serves to set up a project and work schedule with milestones and, if applicable, to calculate costs. Cooperation terms range from 1 month to 4 years. Projects between industry and the laboratory often involve students. Within the framework of the project or cooperation students may work on student research projects (bachelor’s or master’s thesis) under scientific supervision, if applicable on site in the company. Both the company and the laboratory are entitled to bind students by contract with regard to confidentiality and inventions.
Most companies search cooperation with the laboratory in research and development projects (contract of service, R&D contract). New key issues of companies are taken up in target-oriented, scientific research with expectations regarding the project results not being fixed. The laboratory must be entitled to publish research results (partly anonymised or falsified). The costs of the project are calculated according to the expenditure of time and accumulated ancillary expenses (travel expenses, material, etc.). The transfer of inventions to the company and compensation payable is stipulated by contract. A project plan that is set up at staggered intervals enables a prolongation of sections of the contract – mostly in one-year intervals. Some companies have already signed framework contracts with TUM defining the contractual basis. These contracts then form the basis for defining individual agreements between the laboratory and the company.
Product development seminars constitute a particular type of open outcome R&D projects between industry and the laboratory, involving students. Due to their industrial relevance these seminars are very popular with students. For about 6 months, two scientific staff members supervise a group of approx. 4-8 students and train them in scientific work and research. Within the framework of the seminar students may do their student research projects (bachelor’s or master’s thesis). In such R&D projects success-oriented topics with industrial relevance will be assigned by the company. At the beginning of the project, company staff familiarizes the students with the topic and ensures an intensive transfer of know-how. Interim presentations provide information about the approach chosen and the current project status. At the same time, the company may discuss any changes of the defined targets. At the end of the project there will be a final presentation and a project report will be delivered to the company. During the course of the project, the students meet regularly with the members of staff of the laboratory to work out new results. Experience has shown that tasks with high practical relevance bring about particularly good results. The company can promptly make use of these results and implement them in daily business. Due to the particular features of the seminar and the integration of several students, companies may set up a more comprehensive task for such R&D projects.
Scientific cooperation agreements between companies and the laboratory form a win-win situation in which research projects serve to mutually exchange information and result and all partners contribute in equal measures to the project goal. All partners hold the rights of their own inventions. In such cooperation no remuneration is due. Companies are enabled to get involved in a joint research project and to directly participate in the project results of the scientists. In general, the TUM-part of the research work is funded by ministries or DFG.
In particular cases, cooperation may consist of mere contract work (contract for work and services, contract for supply of materials), where companies order standard services (i.e. shop work, prototype construction, tests). The target of the work to be carried out is clearly defined and well known. There is no scientific interpretation of results.