Do you need help with a consultancy contract?

Academic consultancy is an important and effective way for the University to share its knowledge and expertise with government, industry and the public sector. 

If you’ve been approached by an organisation and asked to be a paid consultant, we can help. It is through our Consultancy Services that University staff, researchers and postgraduate students are supported to be consultants, to provide their expertise and know-how, offer expert witness advice and serve on scientific advisory boards.

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Why engage in academic consultancy?

Longer-term benefits

Undertaking consultancy creates the potential for you to develop longer term relationships with external organisations, which can lead to other opportunities including research collaborations.

Peace of mind

You can engage in consultancy knowing you and the University are protected from unnecessary liability.

Generate revenue

Earnings from consultancy projects can be taken personally or you can choose to waive your fee, in which case the money will be donated to the University and, for example, could potentially be used for acquisition of equipment, staff retention, conferences, etc.

Consultancy earnings, including applied research, can be counted as research income, which contributes to the Quality-related Research funding received by the University and REF assessment.

Benefit from our expertise and support

We offer you an efficient support service that enables you to concentrate on your project and your relationship with the client organisation, without distraction or concerns about contractual or administrative issues.

We offer support by:

  • Negotiating contract terms and conditions
  • Ensuring that projects are tailored to protect the confidentiality of both parties
  • Assisting with contract pricing to ensure your expertise and time are appropriately valued
  • Invoicing and distributing income
  • Providing professional indemnity and public liability insurance policies, including travel insurance, from the University
  • Arranging for the use of University facilities
  • Approving the use of University affiliation

Our services are supported by the University’s Legal Services Office and the Insurance Section of the Finance Division. A Consultancy Services management fee is included in the price of the consultant contract and is paid by the client company.

The process

1) Choose your consultancy route

Any member of University staff can undertake consultancy, including academics, academic-related and assistant staff, as well as postdoctoral researchers and PhD students (under the supervision of a Principal Investigator).

University policy allows staff to consult either by undertaking consultancy projects with the support of the Consultancy Services team (this is done through Cambridge Enterprise’s wholly owned subsidiary, Cambridge University Technical Services Limited known as CUTS), or by acting entirely in a  personal and private capacity.

Please note all University employees who undertake consultancy work for the NHS, must have their payment administrated through CUTS.

The table below compares the differences between the two options.


Through the University (via CUTS)In a private capacity
Contractual arrangements are between the client and CUTS.Contracts are between the client and the individual liable for the work.
Cover from University’s insurance policies including professional indemnity.Individuals need to consider their private insurance cover needs and, as necessary, ensure cover is maintained at an appropriate level for an adequate period after the completion of their work.
Use of University of Cambridge address and affiliation.Home address and use of personal letterhead.
Use of University of Cambridge facilities (subject to full economic costing [FEC] and Departmental permission).University staff performing work in a private capacity do so entirely at their own risk and must make a clear distinction between their private work and their University duties.

2) Establish the scope of the project

If you are contacted by a potential client, it is important to identify the scope and nature of the services, what deliverables the client wants and any relevant milestones and timings.

Think through the time and resources required and try to identify any potential conflicts of interest.

3) Contact us

Contact us as soon as possible by completing our consultancy disclosure form so that we can start to consider the contract.

We will advise you on all contractual matters, including costing and pricing the type of service required in the relevant subject area.

4) Review the contract

We will generate a contract between CUTS and the client based on our model agreement, then may ask you to review the project-specific details.

A contract will be sent by the Consultancy Services team via CUTS to the client and amendments negotiated if necessary. We will keep you informed of developments.

5) Sign the contract

Once the contract details are finalised and prepared for signature, we will ask you to sign a separate short letter agreement, contracting you to CUTS to provide the services.

6) Complete the project

Project work is now set to begin and CUTS will invoice the client as detailed in the contract.

7) Receive payment

We aim to distribute income from the client to you within 30 days of its receipt; management fees and direct costs, such as use of University facilities, will be deducted.

Ready to get started?

Tell us about your academic consultancy opportunity by completing our confidential disclosure form.

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Online training

Take our online training course, find out more about consultancy and how we can help to facilitate your consultancy project.

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Consultancy 101 workshop

We provide an introductory workshop for those considering consultancy, and also to serve as a refresher for those already acting as consultants.

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Private clinical practice work

All University employees who engage in private clinical practice work must have their payment administrated through CUTS.

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What kind of work do our consultants undertake?

Examples of work undertaken by our consultants

With the help of Consultancy Services, academics who work in science and technology, as well as those in the fields of arts, humanities and social sciences, have applied their skills and knowledge to solve problems faced by hundreds of companies, governmental groups, charities and NGOs, making a swift, direct impact on society.

Examples of work undertaken by our consultants include:

  • Technical and creative solutions to specific business problems
  • Provision of expert reports on technical, economic and commercial issues
  • Expert witness advice
  • Serving on scientific advisory boards
  • Managed access to University technical facilities
  • Reviews of government strategy and policies
  • Art restoration and social housing assessments
  • Development of bespoke training programmes
  • Provision of advice for, and appearances in, film and TV documentaries