Research code UMCG

Knowledge utilisation

Article 1.3 of the Higher Education and Research Act states that universities, and therefore also the UMCG, in addition to providing scientific education and conducting scientific research, must also ensure that the knowledge created can be used for the benefit of society.

In many ways knowledge utilisation can be promoted, for example via collaboration with civil society organisations or companies (see UMCG Innovation Centre) and participation in committees (see UMCG Impact Team). Partly for this reason, the UMCG encourages collaboration with other parties. In these collaborations, the interests of the other parties may differ from those of the UMCG. This chapter provides tools to address this issue.

General frameworks for collaboration with external parties

All research collaborations must meet the following conditions:

  • The collaboration must contribute to the UMCG’s public goals of promoting public health via academic care, independent research, knowledge utilisation for the benefit of society, and education/training.
  • The collaboration must not compromise the independence and integrity of UMCG staff and the UMCG.

In addition, it should be carefully considered whether within the collaboration:

  • Public and private interests are balanced
  • The IP rights of the UMCG (patent rights) and its staff members (copyrights) are protected
  • There is no unfair competition and no prohibited state aid is given

In collaborations with external parties where data and biomaterials of patients/study participants are to be shared, it is the patient/participant’s consent, as recorded in a written consent form, that determines whether the data or biomaterials can be used. The UMCG webpage ‘Use of your medical data and biomaterials for scientific research‘ describes how, when, and what kind of data and biomaterials of UMCG patients/research participants can be used and when an exception to consent can legitimately be made.

The terms and conditions for collaboration must be laid down in a contract that must be drawn up in consultation with the LCR. This also applies to collaborations within consortia and with private research funders (e.g. pharmaceutical industry, foundations, health funds). For research funded by public organisations (e.g. NWO, ZonMW, the EU), please contact the Grant Support Hub. It is mandatory that funding go through these offices. More information about contract types can be found on the intranet

Only members of the Board of Directors are authorised to legally represent the UMCG and to sign research contracts and other binding research documents on behalf of the UMCG and its staff. These documents are submitted to the Board of Directors for a signature via the LCR or the Grant Support Hub.

Knowledge utilisation via private parties

Collaboration with companies is one of the ways to utilise research results, the knowledge generated, and patented inventions. Companies often have good knowledge about the market’s needs and can help to meet the right need with the knowledge available. Such interactions with companies can be set up in a variety of ways, including:

  • Licences
  • Collaboration agreements
  • Spin-offs
  • Expertise centres
  • Implementation

For more information and to set up such routes, you can approach the Innovation Centre.


Research results can be protected in various ways, for example through copyright, database rights, trademark rights, or patents. Patents give this right for a limited period (20 years).

According to Article 9.4 of the Cao UMC 2022-2023, staff members are obliged to inform their employer at the earliest possible stage about a potentially patentable invention that they produced or coproduced in the performance of their duties. At the UMCG, this must be reported to the Innovation Centre, which determines together with the researcher or staff member whether a patent application is appropriate and warrants further support.

To ensure that an invention retains commercial potential, protection of the invention is crucial. According to the National Patent Act 1995, the UMCG owns the IP rights to all research results and inventions, including data, software, apps, databases, prototype devices, and materials developed by UMCG staff members. The researcher remains the inventor or author.

Filing a patent application does not mean that the invention cannot subsequently be published, but premature disclosure of knowledge makes patent protection impossible. Therefore, prior to any disclosure of a potentially patentable invention in the form of, for example, articles, abstracts, presentations, or public discussions, it is mandatory to verify whether knowledge protection is necessary. After a patent application has been filed, the knowledge can be published in any form desired.

The UMCG document The Value of Knowledge offers a practical guide for applying for patents in accordance with the basic rules for valorisation as formulated by the NFU. Help can be provided by the Innovation Centre in collaboration with UG IP & Business Development.

Knowledge security

The National Guideline on Knowledge Security describes the dilemma that top-level science cannot exist without collaboration with other parties but that the threats around knowledge security are increasing, especially in international collaborations.

The basic premise is that scientific organisations and their researchers must ensure that international collaborations can take place safely: open where possible, protected where necessary.

Knowledge security involves:

  • Preventing unwanted transfer of sensitive knowledge and technology. Unwanted transfer occurs if our national security is at stake.
  • Preventing covert influence on research by other states. Such interference endangers academic freedom and the security of a civil society.
  • Ethical issues that may play a role in collaboration with countries that do not respect fundamental human rights.

For each study, the risks concerning knowledge security and the protective measures needed must be clear. For more information, see the national Knowledge Security Office and the UG Knowledge Security Office.

Conflict of interest

The NFU, and thus also the UMCG, endorses the Code for the prevention of improper influence due to conflicts of interest, KNAW, 2012, updated in 2017.

In a conflict-of-interest situation, staff members have interests that can adversely affect their functioning or bring harm to the UMCG. For example:

  • Private interests exist when staff members or their family, partner, or other acquaintances personally benefit from a situation. This is the case, for example, if a staff member has the UMCG purchase products from a company in which this staff member owns shares.

  • In the case of interests pertaining to a specific role, staff members are favoured because of the role they have in the UMCG. For example, a staff member systematically prescribes drugs from a particular company as a means to have their research sponsored.

  • Financial conflicts of interest often arise in the case of interests in companies or organisations that are active in the same field as the UMCG or have financial interests in relation to the UMCG. In particular, this can occur when a UMCG staff member or their family member, partner, or acquaintance:

    • is a shareholder or owner of or is employed by such a company or organisation
    • receives or depends on money, products, services, or gifts from such a company or organisation (see Additional work).

Conflict of interest is potentially harmful because it can lead to:

  • Substandard science
  • Reputational harm to the researcher, the research group, or the UMCG
  • Negative financial consequences for the UMCG
  • Reduced quality of patient care

    •  A staff member withholds or adjusts research results in favour of a funder or chooses a research topic that is favourable to the funder (restriction of academic freedom).

    • A staff member has a preference for products from a specific company, while this is not in the interest of the UMCG or patients.
    • A staff member works for their own company during UMCG working hours.
    • A staff member participates on advisory boards of two competitors and shares confidential information from one competitor with the other competitor.

Additional activities, work, and interests

Academic staff at the UMCG must comply with the UG regulations Sector regulation on additional activities and Regulation on Additional Interests and the valorisation directive Naar een goede waarde, 2009 of the NFU. The GMH and CGR apply to both researchers and healthcare professionals.

There are different types of activities and interests: additional activities (external activities in line with the role), additional work, and additional interests. These may lead to potential, apparent, or actual conflicts of interest, and all three must be reported in accordance with the instructions in the three subsections below.

    • In the case of a potential conflict of interest, staff members have interests that may conflict with other interests and responsibilities that they may acquire in the future (for example, by broadening their range of tasks or switching to another role).
    • In the event of an apparent conflict of interest, the interests of staff members appear to influence the performance of their duties even though this is not the case. For example, in the media, the appearance of a conflict of interest can cause social unrest and harm the reputation of the UMCG, even if it is demonstrated that there is no actual conflict of interest.
    • In the event of an actual conflict of interest, the interests of staff members and their professional responsibilities are in conflict.

Below we provide more information per type. Further questions can be addressed to the P&O adviser to the employee’s department.

Additional activities in line with the staff member’s role

This section pertains to activities that a staff member performs on behalf of the UMCG and/or activities that are clearly related to the role that the employee has at the UMCG. These are performed on behalf of the UMCG and are not regarded as additional work. 

    • Participation in an association within the staff member’s own field
    • Giving presentations at conferences
    • Giving advice on the staff member’s field of expertise to contribute to the improvement of public health

If a discount, compensation, or reimbursement is given for this external activity (for example, a discount on conference costs or reimbursement of hours when giving a presentation), an agreement must be drawn up in the name of the UMCG. Any compensation received is for the department. In this case, notification to the transparency register is also necessary (see Additional work). Some activities without remuneration or discounts also require an agreement, e.g. to record IP agreements (see Patents). These agreements must be submitted to the LCR, which reviews the agreement and ensures the signing of the agreement by the Board of Directors.

Additional activities for which an agreement must be drawn up must be reported on the staff member’s UG staff page (their MePa). This also applies to additional work and additional interests (see below) and to all activities, relationships, and interests that could restrict academic freedom through a situation of dependence, pressure, or other obligations (political, financial, or otherwise).

Sometimes additional activities can become additional work, for example when an advisory committee is given a political assignment. In that case, the following rules for additional work must be followed. In case of doubt, these situations are to be discussed with the head of department.

Additional work

In accordance with the CAO UMC’s article 9.3, staff members are obliged to seek permission from the management of their department for all external professional work using the additional activities form and to not carry out the work until management has made a positive decision. The management checks whether the work concerns work that:

  • Affects the interests of the department or the UMCG
  • May influence the proper performance of the employee’s role
  • May lead to conflicts of interest (see Additional activities, work, and interests)
  • Is incompatible with the employee’s role

In the notification of additional work, the following must always be specified:

  • The nature of the additional work
  • The organisation for which the additional work will be performed
  • The time commitment entailed
  • The amount of any additional income
  • Permission for publication of the additional work on the UG staff page (MePa) and in other communications about the staff member

Approved additional work must be registered in the staff member’s personnel file by the personnel adviser, and the staff member must mention the additional work on their UG staff page (MePa). Additional work that has been completed that can still lead to conflicts of interest or apparent conflicts must also be mentioned.

BIG-registered researchers must register the financial relationship in the Transparency register if the company funding their research or presentation:

  • is a foreign company that does not have a Dutch branch
  • is not affiliated with the CGR or the GMH

In other cases, the Dutch company must take care of the registration in the register.

Staff members are obliged to immediately inform the management of their department if:

  • The circumstances of the approved external professional activities change
  • They think they could develop a conflict of interest
  • They have to deal with potentially conflicting interests

If necessary, the situation will be discussed with the legal department or the Board of Directors, and the approval can be withdrawn.

Sometimes, consent for additional work is granted subject to conditions. Conditions can be, for example:

  • Arrangements concerning all or part of the additional income
  • Reduction in the hours of employment
  • Arrangements concerning holiday hours
  • Limitation of the duration of approval for the additional work
  • Reimbursement to the UMCG if facilities or capacity of the UG or the UMCG are used in any way when performing additional work

No authorisation will be granted for the performance of additional work:

  • That harms the scientific, organisational, or business interests of the UMCG
  • That hinders the proper and full performance of the employee’s role at the UMCG
  • That is contrary to the reputation of the UMCG
  • Where there is a conflict of interest, apparent or real, with UMCG activities

Additional interests

Academic staff are obliged to provide the Board of the UG all information about financial interests they have in companies that they know to have a relationship with the University or the UMCG, see the Regulation on Additional Interests and the valorisation guideline Naar een goede waarde, 2009 of the NFU. It is only possible to have such an interest with permission from the Board of the University. This permission can be withdrawn in the event of changes in circumstances or insight or if any conditions are violated.

No consent will be granted if the financial interest in the undertaking:

  • Harms the academic, organisational, or business interests of the UG or the UMCG
  • Hinders the proper and full performance of the employee’s role at the UG or the UMCG
  • Is contrary to the reputation of the UG or the UMCG
  • Creates a conflict of interest, real or apparent, with work at the UG or the UMCG

If there is an additional interest, the scientific employee must fill in the additional activities form (which contains a section on additional interests) and send it to the dean via the head of their department. The dean ensures that permission is requested from the Board of the UG.

Gifts and earnings from external parties and sponsored roles

The UMCG endorses the GMH and the CGR. These regulations have been drawn up for some healthcare professionals, but the UMCG has decided that the guidelines for receiving gifts from and maintaining financial relationships with external private parties apply to all UMCG staff members. The webpage helps determine which gifts are allowed. For payment of a sum of money, all activities performed under the UMCG role must be reported to the manager, and any payment must be made to the UMCG (for paid additional activities, see Additional work).

A special form of dependence arises when there are sponsored positions for scientific or support staff. If the funding for a UMCG position is not paid for by a public research funder or by UMCG/UG funds, but rather by an external party with an interest in the research, academic integrity and academic freedom must be contractually guaranteed. The holder of a sponsored position is also obliged to report this on their MePa.

In the case of large contracts with the same external party, whether repeated or long-term, the UMCG must take into account the dependence on the external party as a factor in deciding whether or not to enter or re-enter into this relationship. In these cases, there is a risk of academic freedom being affected because the financial and personnel stability of the department or the UMCG is at stake in the event of a change in the policy or the wishes of the financing party.

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Elizabeth Koier Policy Advisor Research Office