Principles Governing Commercial Activities

Principles Governing Commercial Activities of Harvard University, with application to Partnerships between the University and Outside Organizations

As Approved by the Corporation on September 17, 2001


The following statement of principles was developed in light of increasing opportunities for the University to enter into a wide range of joint projects with outside entities. This final version also clarifies that the same principles should be kept in mind when parts of the University undertake commercial activities even without an outside partner. Highlights include:

  • Educational and research activities of Harvard should be motivated, and be perceived to be motivated, by the pursuit of knowledge, and not financial reward.
  • Any agreement with an outside entity or other commercial activity should be structured to protect basic values of the University, such as freedom and openness of inquiry.
  • Educational activities of the university, including student services, should be free from intrusive commercial aspects (e.g. advertisements on "" are prohibited).
  • Exclusive agreements and agreements which involve holding equity in an outside entity will raise special concerns.
  • Proposed partnerships with an outside entity and other similar arrangements involving a substantial commercial element must be approved in advance by the Provost or President, and in some cases, the Corporation. The Provost's Office is available for early consultation and assistance.