Legal agreements can help avoid uncertainties between different members in a business collaboration. They can clarify things like:
- the nature, scope and duration of the relationships
- the allocation of responsibilities
- the decision-making structure
- the accountability processes
- the ownership and control of the outputs
- the division of revenues derived from the collaboration
A number of useful legal documents can help you protect your own individual business, as well as the collaborative interest of the network.
Letter of intent
A letter of intent provides an overview of the goals and objectives of the proposed network. It proposes what collaboration should include, how long it would last, the activities members will encourage, and the expected benefits. It also establishes the points of contact for the collaboration. Find a sample letter of intent.
Memorandum of understanding
A memorandum of understanding is a document describing a bilateral or multilateral agreement between members of the collaboration. It outlines each party's intent to agree or do business with one another. Find a sample memorandum of understanding.
A consortium agreement is a document to help businesses share information, network and collaborate. The detail provided in the agreement can help ensure any intellectual property that arises from the collaboration is managed effectively. The agreement will establish boundaries for key issues. See model consortium agreements for collaborative research.
Collaborative network ground rules
You should consider documenting some ground rules from the start of the collaboration. This gives you a non-legally binding way for members (current and future) to agree to the minimum set of acceptable behaviours and processes.
Handling new network member enquiries
You can consider creating a workflow tool for existing members to evaluate requests from potential new network members.
Role of the network facilitator
This document outlines the essential and desired skills required by the facilitator and an indication of the key tasks expected of them.
Invest Northern Ireland support and encourage the creation of collaborative clusters in Northern Ireland with their Collaborative Growth programme.