Be a consultant

Do you need help with a consultancy contract?

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 Cambridge Enterprise’s 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. The Consultancy Services team handles the negotiations, contracts, arrangements for use of University facilities, invoicing, debt collection, income distribution and all the other administrative tasks that can otherwise distract you from your work.

The services provided by the Consultancy Services team include the negotiation of contract terms and conditions as supported by the University Legal Services Office and the Insurance Section of the Finance Division. In addition, academics benefit from the University’s professional indemnity and public liability insurance policies, and are eligible to apply for travel insurance through the University’s Insurance Section. A Consultancy Services management fee is included in the price of the consultant contract and is paid by the client company.

Watch our video on Consultancy Services

Who is eligible to be a consultant?

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). Consultancy can be undertaken with the help of Cambridge Enterprise or in a private capacity.

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.

Members of the University of Cambridge can take our free online course to learn more about consultancy and about how Cambridge Enterprise can help to facilitate your consultancy project.

The benefits

Why use our Consultancy Services?

Academics are able to concentrate on the project and the client relationship without distraction or concerns about contractual matters and management of the administrative issues associated with the project, while benefiting from the University’s insurance cover. Consultancy also provides an easy way for academics to gain valuable experience and apply research and expertise.

Client organisations are able to commission work from the individual academic whose expertise they require, while being in a contract with a professionally managed limited liability company backed by the University’s insurance policies.

The University frequently benefits from longer-term relationships, including research collaborations that develop from consultancy activity. Income from consultancy projects that include applied research counts as research income. Such income contributes to the Quality-Related Research income received by the University and the Research Excellence Framework (REF) assessment of the research.

Consultancy Services negotiates flexible terms to ensure mutual benefit by tailoring contracts to respect the nature and needs of both parties under appropriate terms.

Choosing a route

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.


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
Home address and use of personal
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.

How it works

  1. 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.
  2. Think through the time and resources required and try to identify any potential conflicts of interest.
  3. Contact us as soon as possible and we will advise on contractual matters, including costing and pricing the type of service required in the relevant subject area.
  4. Fill out our online disclosure form that describes the project and enables us to get started on the contractual side.
  5. We will generate a contract between CUTS and the client based on our model agreement, then ask you to review the project-specific details.
  6. 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.
  7. Once the contract details are finalised, we will ask you to sign a short letter agreement, contracting you to CUTS to provide the services.
  8. Project work is now set to begin and CUTS will invoice the client as detailed in the contract.
  9. 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.

The above information is included in our Consultancy Services leaflet. You can download this leaflet as a PDF here.

To talk to the Consultancy Services team, email us.


Image: Cambridge Enterprise Consultancy client Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter, Winton Professor for the Public Understanding of Risk.