Export Controls in University Research

Export Controls in University Research


Export Controls at Universities

I am currently attending an academic export controls conference, Impact of Export Controls on Higher Education and Scientific Institutions, held at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

If you are at all responsible for export controls compliance in an academic institution, this is a great conference to watch out for in the future. (This is the 2nd year it is being held and the objective is to hold it annually.) It’s a young, but growing conference and this year there are more than 250 attendees. The participants are largely academic research administrators who have direct responsibility for export controls compliance.

After just the first day, the discussions have highlighted the added complexities of implementing export controls compliance in an open, academic environment. One speaker noted a trend that an increasing number of institutions are accepting research contracts that do not necessarily fall under the “fundamental research” exception. This can include industry-sponsored contracts that comes with publishing constraints and proprietary information clauses, as well as some government-sponsored awards (e.g. through the Department of Defense).

At the same time, many research administrators continue to grapple with determining whether a project is or is not considered fundamental research. The “it depends” response from various speakers during the Q&A reminds us that the devil is in the details of the specific contract/award, much like in other areas of export controls compliance.

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