AAU Career

Project collaboration

Project collaboration is super valuable! There is a lot to learn from working with someone outside the university. To have gotten just a toe in the door of a company is great to put on a CV, and here project collaboration may be a great start for you.

Luckily, it is a possibility for most students to engage in a project collaboration with a company.

➡ On this page, we will explain the advantages and give you some ideas on how to get started as well as advice for a well-functioning collaboration.

Semester projects with external collaborators

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    What is a project collaboration?

    When you and your group have to write your semester project, it is possible to collaborate with a company or an organisation.

    This will usually happen in one of these ways:

    • The company already has a pre-defined project for you and your group to work with
    • You and your group can make a project proposal that you can then develop into a final project together with the company

    During a project collaboration, you will not have your day-to-day routine in the company. You will work from home, or at AAU, but you will have a contact person assigned to you from the company, who will provide you with the necessary information.

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    Why is it a good idea to collaborate in my semester project?

    You will learn about:

    • Your academic field
    • The job market
    • The inner workings of a business

    This you will get:

    • Network
    • Something to put on your cv – collaborations, specific company names, and maybe even concrete results
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    How do I find a company to work with?

    If you do not already have a company in mind, there are some things you can do to find a business for your project collaboration:

    • Search for project proposals in AAU Jobbank
    • Find inspiration in some of the other posts in AAU Job bank and make your own project proposal to a company you wish to work with.
    • Participate in events, where you can meet companies that are interested in collaborating with students.
    • Attend one of the many career fairs
    • Take a look at AAU’s company connections – they are interested in collaborating with students.

    It is important, that you and your group spend some time getting to know the company and what they do – just like you would for an internship or a job application. This way, you will be able to prepare some relevant and in-depth questions that implicitly demonstrates your professional competencies and interest for the field of work of the company, while explicitly make, for example, suggestions for the project design.

    Employees at companies are usually quite busy, so you should take responsibility and make sure you follow up on the things you agree to. You should also consider, in what ways the company will benefit from the partnership. It is a great opportunity for creating a good network, that could be helpful at a later time. So make sure to be professional and give the company a good impression of you.

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    Where can I get help to find a project collaborator?

    You might experience that finding a company to work with is not always completely straightforward. It takes a lot of work to find a good match. You need to have both knowledge, a good idea and compelling arguments ready.

    If you find it hard to find a company to collaborate with, we can help you out. Book a career counselling session where you can get guidance in the process.

Written agreement of project collaboration

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    Should I sign an agreement?

    Before you set out on a collaboration with a company, it can be a really good idea to sign a written agreement, in which you set out the scope of the project. Remember to get your project supervisor at AAU to approve the agreement as well in order to make sure that the project is relevant for your programme and meet the requirements of the curriculum.

    The collaboration agreement deals with the academic contents and should not be mistaken for a non-disclosure and rights agreement (see below).

    Remember, that the purpose of the project is also that you have to take an exam. The company might have some wishes that you will not be able to grant within the scope of your project. Here, you might have to stick to a content that matches the requirements of your curriculum.

    A good collaboration agreement can help ensure, that you will not end up in this situation. Even though your supervisor is not obliged to interfere in potential conflicts or misunderstandings between your group and the company, she/he can be a help in such situations.

    AAU template for non-disclosure and rights agreement

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    Should I sign a non-disclosure agreement?

    If the project is confidential, it can be a good idea to sign a non-disclosure agreement.

    AAU’s template for non-disclosure agreement

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    Should I sign a non-disclosure and rights agreement?

    The non-disclosure and rights agreement should be made, for instance, if you invent a new product in connection to your project.

    Therefore, it is not necessary in the majority of cases.

    It is not a requirement that there has to be a signed a non-disclosure and rights agreement in connection to a student project. However, it is always a good idea to match expectations about the use of confidential material and property rights for the project results BEFORE the work is begun.

    Generally, it is the company who will require a non-disclosure and rights agreement to be signed in connection to the project. As a student, you can decide for yourself what terms you are willing to accept in such an agreement.

    AAU template for non-disclosure and rights agreement

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    What are my rights and obligations?

    As a student at AAU, your rights and obligations are independent of those of the university because you are not employed by the university. This means, that any inventions or other findings of value that you discover during a project belongs to you. This also means, that you have to finance any protection you may wish to have of these intellectual properties yourself.

    If you sign a non-disclosure and rights agreement with a company in relation to a student project, you are therefore obliged to pay any potential compensation claims in case of a breach of the agreement.

    Read about recommendations, terms and conditions for collaborations

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    What should I remember to consider?

    • Remember, that the main goal is your exam!
    • Remember, that you and the company do not necessarily share the same interests
    • Be absolutely sure that you understand the terms and consequences of the agreement
    • Negotiate with the company, if some of the conditions in the agreement are unreasonable
    • Be realistic about what terms of the agreement you can achieve
    • Reconsider a new project, if the agreement is very unreasonable
    • Discuss the terms of the agreement with your supervisor, your uncle or someone in the same field
    • Remember that your supervisor is your academic mentor and not your legal counsel
    • Seek professional guidance if necessary
    • Remember confidentiality
    • A project is only for a few months – an agreement might inconvenience you for years!

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