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International project roadmap

Ensure that your international project follows the correct procedures by understanding and following the five steps below.

This section defines the five standard steps in completing a formal agreement to conduct an international project or activity. PIs and DLC administrators are encouraged to reach out to their Research Administrative Services (RAS) Contract Administrator or Office of Strategic Alliances and Technology Transfer (OSATT) Catalyst for further help and guidance, particularly on the legal, financial, and compliance aspects that make international activities unique and challenging.

The RAS site also has extensive resources for PIs conducting sponsored programs, covering the full project lifecycle from preparing and submitting proposals to external sponsors, to negotiating and accepting awards, to reporting and closing out an award.


5 steps to complete an agreement

#1 Initiation

International activities are initiated continuously across the Institute and routed through existing processes via a central administrative office — e.g. RAS, OSATT, Office of the General Counsel (OGC), Vice Presidency for Finance (VPF), or Office of the Vice Provost/International — all of which are represented on the ICC. The OSATT intake process has now become the default for initiating international projects. If the activity falls outside an established process, however, or you are uncertain about how to proceed, please contact the International Coordinating Committee (ICC) at the earliest stages of a project so that they can help answer questions and assist as needed in project development and negotiation.

#2 Review

Once initiated, staff from the appropriate office will assist PIs and DLCs by reviewing proposed international activities and project plans to identify issues specific to international relationships, answer questions, and suggest appropriate adjustments. This helps address and resolve challenges (e.g. related to finance, export control, tax, legal, safety, etc.) that are common to global projects. PIs may also be asked to present their project for review by the International Advisory Committee (IAC) and/or the Senior Risk Group (SRG) if it meets the elevated-risk criteria.

#3 Negotiation

A negotiation team that includes the DLC and appropriate central administrative resources (e.g. OSATT, OGC, or RAS) will work with PIs to draft and negotiate an agreement with the external collaborator/sponsor. The negotiation team will work directly with the sponsor’s business and legal staff to facilitate the process, which is expected to be iterative, generate new information, and potentially entail project revisions.

#4 Approval

Issues raised during the review and negotiation process will be resolved via risk mitigation coordinated by the relevant administrative unit (e.g. OSATT, OGC, or RAS) or brought to the Vice Provost/International for review.

In addition, for sponsored projects, the final scope of work and agreement will be routed for approval to the departments and deans, per MIT’s usual practice. Other international activities (e.g. gift proposals) follow their established internal approval mechanisms. If the project meets the elevated-risk criteria, the Senior Risk Group will also review for approval.

#5 Implementation

Especially during the transition period between the project development/negotiation phase and steady-state project operations, OSATT Alliance Managers can help identify and resolve issues often encountered by PIs and departments, while also serving as an effective link to the OSATT Catalysts in their agreement development role. In addition, ICC members can provide continuity and support on the range of compliance and management issues that are common to international projects and programs over their lifecycle.

Need More Help?

Office of Strategic Alliances and Technology Transfer

Office of Strategic Alliances and Technology Transfer

Contact OSATT

International Help

International Help

Contact the ICC

Office of the General Counsel

Office of the General Counsel

Contact OGC

Research Administration Services

Research Administration Services

Contact RAS