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Commercial services in higher education

Commercial contracts can come in all shapes, sizes and levels of complexity. Higher education institutions (HEI) deal with a myriad of commercial relationships and contracts with funders, suppliers, students, regulatory bodies, government departments and other academic institutions daily.

Our full-service commercial team comprises of specialist advisers who advise on all manner of commercial contracts and are supported by a wider team of lawyers specialising in employment, banking, taxation, government and infrastructure, and charities and governance matters.

Universities also deal with significant amounts of personal data and different jurisdictions, through student exchanges, accommodation, welfare and research. Universities are often at the cutting edge of data analytics and their research often involves sharing personal data across the private and public sector. Working with your data protection team we can make sure that you stay compliant in this increasingly litigious area.

What we offer

  • Advice on all aspects of commercial contracts including supply chain contracts, data protection outsourcing, licensing, GDPR, franchising, TUPE, marketing, event and sponsorship agreements and IT software agreements.
  • Support to HEIs on public procurement exercises, including commercial and legal advice on structuring and running procurement exercises, dealing with challenges and advising on compliant joint venture and collaboration structures.
  • Advice to HEIs on all taxation matters, including in relation to commercial and property transactions, charity law, employment tax issues, public-private outsourcing and joint ventures and trading subsidiaries.
  • Support to HEIs to enable you to maximise the commercial potential of your cutting-edge technologies.
  • Advice on all aspects of competition law including pricing and intellectual property (IP) ownership in research and development (R&D), technology transfer between universities and the private sector and R&D block exemption.
  • Support for universities on private finance initiatives (PFI) and public private partnership arrangements, having advised on over 50 PFI schemes involving the Department for Education.
  • Assistance on legacies and donations, including obtaining permissions from the Charity Commission where required.
  • Clear and concise advice in relation to the identification and assessment of state aid issues (and implementation of solutions) in a range of projects, from grant funding applications and research and development collaborations to student accommodation projects.

Featured experience

Charities and governance advice

Acted for a confidential university client on charities and governance advice, joint venture structures, services companies, state aid and a host of contracting issues associated with the same.

Keele University

Advised Keele University with its ERDF funding application including state aid compliance advice looking at valuing contributions and exemptions.

Loughborough University

Advised Loughborough University on the incorporation of its main trading subsidiary, including changes to its corporate structure and make up of its subsidiary’s board.

Loughborough University

Advised Loughborough University on its testing phases and route to market with multiple collaborators involving patentable technology.


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