Academic exchanges and research endeavors are an increasingly globalized environment. Some universities are finding themselves with non-traditional and complex cross-border collaborations which can include: developing joint degree programs with foreign universities; developing foreign branch campuses; or, engage in capacity building with foreign governments.
Collaborative research beyond fundamental research, including corporate and research with international research partners, and new collaborative corporate style instruments such as affiliation agreements, joint ventures, and consortia may be affected by trade compliance regulations. Sequestration has diminished state sponsorship which may lead faculty to engage in research with proprietary or national security restrictions that involve foreign persons or international collaborations. These endeavors whether they cross borders or not, can be impacted by trade controls. This in turn may require authorization from the federal government prior to proceeding with the activities, sometimes even as early as initial discussions, whether they are structured formally or informally.
Is unfunded or non-sponsored research collaborations affected by export controls and economic sanctions?
They can be. In most cases, informal, unfunded research arrangements can be conducted with no export and economic sanctions regulations because of the absence of binding agreements and dissemination controls. Other informal research can include visiting scholars and travel to foreign countries. However, as with formal exchanges when the collaboration involves provision of regulated services involving sanctioned countries or prohibited parties, or may be for defense services involving military, space, or intelligence related research endeavors, trade compliance laws and regulations can be applicable.
It is important to note that instruments such as a Confidential Disclosure Agreement (CDA), Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA), and Proprietary Information Agreement (PIA), by their very nature, restrict access and dissemination of information. Parties accepting terms and conditions of these instruments, or ones like them, are subject to export controls and economic sanctions regulations, and exchange of proprietary information may require government authorization in order to release to a foreign national in the U.S. or if it is exported outside of the U.S. In addition, Material Transfer Agreements (MTAs) can also intersect with trade compliance regulations if the materials transferred cross the U.S. border, or if the MTA is conditioned to restrict information used in or resulting from a collaborating researcher's use of the materials.
Study abroad programs have had minimal intersection with trade controls. Study abroad programs typically do not involve the exchange of proprietary technical information that would be subject to restrictions. There are "safe havens" that allow U.S. institutions of higher education to exchange academic information, conduct research, and other activities with foreign nationals. These exclusions are: Educational Information, Publicly Available, and Fundamental Research. However, these exclusion are outlined in the regulations with very specific criteria. If the activity does not meet the criteria exactly, the exclusion cannot be applied.
Activities involving educational services to foreign nationals may require a license. Such activities can include: military training; academic services to a sanctioned countries, their nationals or individuals / entities in these countries.
I work at NYU's Abu Dhabi campus and there are a lot of non-U.S. persons here. do I have to worry about about the nationality of the person I am working with on my project?
The short answer is, yes. NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) is a U.S. institution located in the UAE. However, if your project requires the enlistment of persons who are not employed by NYU or NYUAD, proper protocols must be followed before you engage their services, regardless of compensation structure.
Consult the Office of Compliance and Risk Management at NYUAD for additional guidance.
I met a Researcher at a conference who is from Iran. Is it an issue for me to collaborate with this person because they are in an embargoed country?
The simple answer is, yes. Authorization from the U.S. Government to engage in the activity may be required. Before you enter into any type of agreement, whether formally with a contract or informally through email or a handshake, please talk with the Office of Compliance and Risk Management (OCRM). Together with the Office of General Counsel, they will assist in determining if the activity will require authorization from the U.S. Government.
NOTE: If authorization is required for your activity, the application process by the U.S. Government can take 6 months, or longer. There is no expedited service option available. The reason for the extensive time frame is due to inter-agency review by the U.S. Government. Also, there is no guarantee that authorization will be granted. The activity cannot take place until the authorization is received in-hand or it will be considered a violation of U.S. laws and regulations.
Can I pay a student who is enrolled in a non-U.S. institution to perform research from a national database of that country which I cannot gain access to?
The answer to this question is, it depends. There are many factors that can affect the ability to pay an individual and thus the specifics of this type of situation will need to be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Contact OCRM to discuss your particular needs.