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Purchasing Policy and Procedure

Due to Northwestern University’s expense reimbursement policy, students will not be reimbursed for any purchases made with personal funds. The university has mandated that departments be responsible for all student costs up-front. All course materials and costs must be processed through the Farley Center.

I. General Purchases PolicyQuestions about purchasing procedures? Email Tina Foster, Farley Center Program Assistant ( Questions about policy? Email Ria Hirsch, Farley Center Program Manager (

The following costs/purchases will be covered by Farley when submitted by following the attached Farley purchasing procedure. This video provides an overview of the purchasing policy and procedure:

a. Prototyping materials

b. NU Rapid Prototype Lab costs

c. Market research costs

d. Software or cloud-based services

II. Non-Authorized Purchases Policy

The following costs/purchases will not be covered by Farley, and are the responsibility of students and their teams:

a. Travel costs to and from classes/team meetings

b. Food costs for team meetings

c. Incorporation fees/costs

III. Special Purchases Policy

All special purchases require faculty pre-approval in email. Any special purchase submitted without written pre-approval will not be processed until approval is received. The following constitute special purchases:

a. Seminars/workshop fees/competitions

b. Travel costs to and from events/seminars

c. Consulting services (see below)

d. Provisional patent filing fee o A release from Northwestern University’s tech transfer office (INVO) must be obtained prior to the filing of any provisional patent

e. All purchases over $500

f. All purchases once the team’s budget cap has been reached.

IV. Outsourcing/Consulting Policy

Students must submit an approved Sole Source Justification Form (see procedure below) prior to the commencement of any consulting work performed. Failure to do so will result in the University not covering the consulting costs. Consulting services include but are not limited to:

a. Legal/IP research/opinion/advice

b. Design/prototyping

c. Third-party crowdsourcing entities/sites

d. Additional types of consulting (if in doubt, ask your faculty adviser!)

V. IP Policy

Students must partner with their class instructor to determine if they are developing intellectual property:

1. Any student developing technology or software must meet with their class adviser to ascertain if they should initiate the Student Petition To Release IP process through INVO.

2. Funded graduate students with assigned PIs must have their PI adviser sign the NUvention Student-Adviser Acknowledgement form.

3. Any student using NU technology to develop IP must complete the NUvention Use of NU Technology form and follow its process.



I. Purchase Submission Procedure

All purchases require the following steps be observed, (plus any additional necessary steps as outlined in sections III & IV):

1. For purchases under $250: 1. The team purchaser only login with your NetID/NU email and password to complete the online ordering form here: NUvention Course Item Ordering Form

2. Send an email to your TA or faculty adviser and CC the Farley Center’s Program Assistant with the following information:

     1. Team name

     2. The item(s) to be ordered

3.  If your TA does not approve your order, s/he must respond via email within 24 hours. No response from your TA within 24 hours constitutes approval for general purchases under $250 (no written approval needed)

4. All supporting documents for purchase orders can be emailed to, if necessary

2. For purchases $250 - $499:

     1. Orders of $250 - $499 require written TA approval via email. All TA approvals must be submitted to

     2. All other steps apply

3. For purchases $500 or higher:

     1. Orders of $500+ require written faculty approval via email. All faculty approvals must be submitted to

     2. All other steps apply

II. Post-Submission Procedure

1. Following order submission, the team requestor will receive emailed confirmation from the Farley Center Program Assistant within 24 hours; follow-up information will be requested as necessary.

2. Some items will be sent directly to you; others must be processed through the University’s mail system, and will be available for pick-up in the Farley Suite.

III. Purchasing Guidelines

1. Team requestor submits a purchase request to the Center through the online ordering form using these steps:

2. All class purchasing will be coordinated through the Farley Center; this policy applies to all purchases, including NU Prototyping Lab purchases, event admission tickets, etc.

3. Teams must designate one student as requester: the team requester will have sole responsibility purchases, contracts, and all other expense requests.

4. Each purchase must be discussed with the course faculty adviser prior to submission.

5. Requesters must submit one online item order form for each unique item or service (please include item/service link, quantity, etc. as applicable).

6. Packages held in the Farley suite must be picked up Monday – Friday between 8:30am4pm.

7. All purchases will be applied to team budgets

IV. Outsourcing/Consulting Procedure

The procedure for teams obtaining a contractor is as follows:

a. Teams must meet with advisor/faculty (NOT TA) about their need for a contractor

b. Obtain advisor/faculty preliminary approval to source bids for a set amount of dollars.

c. Teams find a contractor/a contractor wins the bid

d. Team requestor completes the Sole Source Justification (SSJ) form and provides the SSJ packet (includes all necessary materials and completely filled out SSJ) to their advisor/faculty

e. Have the advisor/faculty review the SSJ and supporting documents (i.e. quote, contractor info, etc.)

f. If the advisor/faculty approve, they must sign the SSJ

g. Team requestor submits a purchase request to the Center through the online ordering form and sends all mandated documents to

Additional qualifiers:

a. NU student clubs are preferred contractors

b. Individual student contractors must be able to provide proof of US citizenship OR provide authorization to work in the US.

       a. Students who do not have existing and current authorization cannot be hired to contract

c. Professional contractors from the following geographic regions ONLY can be contracted with:

a. North America

b. UK/EU

c. Japan

d. Korea

e. Australia

Due to the university-wide restriction of approvals for contractor services/new contractors, this process must be completed before the contractor begins work; teams who do not follow this process and obtain appropriate paperwork will not receive approval for contractor payment.

Click here to download a PDF of the Purchasing Policy and Procedure

NOTES: This policy was updated on 10/19/18

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