Conflict of interest policy
If you’re starting a company, you’re about to receive some new legal and financial interests which potentially conflict with your responsibilities in your University role.
The University’s Conflicts of Interest Policy requires that you recognise and disclose your conflicts of interest. It’s highly relevant for spinout activities. The same page includes resources to help you work through the process of preparing a management plan.
You are advised to read the Policy in full – some relevant extracts are reproduced here below.
19. The general rule, with the exception of committee business (see paragraph 28), is that disclosure should be made at the time the conflict first arises, or it is recognised that a conflict might be perceived, in writing to the Head of Department (or equivalent). If the Head of Department (or equivalent) has an interest in the matter to be discussed, the disclosure shall be made to the person at the next higher level of authority. In most cases this will be to the Head of Division. For University Senior Officers, the line of approval is noted in Council’s Standing Orders. Exceptions to this rule are outlined in Appendix B.
Spin-outs and licensees of University IP
3. Staff or students may have a financial interest or other personal interest in a spin-out or in an organisation to which the University has licensed or is seeking to license University IP or may have personal IP with which they are intending to create a start-up company.
4. In such cases:
4.1 they should normally play no executive role in any decisions made between the University or its subsidiaries and such spin-outs or IP licensees. If it is believed that there are exceptional circumstances to argue for such involvement, prior permission must be sought from the Head of Department and then from the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research). The proposed conflict of interest plan/approach to be put to the Head and then the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) must aim to protect the reputation of the academic(s), their research group(s) and the University and ensure compliance with company law; and
4.2 if they wish to undertake a consultancy for that spin-out, they must seek prior permission from the Head of Department, and in turn from the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research). The proposed conflict of interest plan/approach to be put to the Head and then the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) must aim to protect the reputation of the academic(s), their research group(s) and the University and ensure compliance with company law.