The nature of research is such that new discoveries build on previous research. For this process to continue, it is often necessary to share research materials and data with other researchers. The way institutions share research materials and data is often by way of material transfer agreements (MTAs), Data Use Agreements (DUAs), or Research Collaboration Agreements (RCAs).
An RCA is a contract that dictates the terms of transfer of research materials and/or data from one party to another, and sometimes this includes the bidirectional sharing of either. The purpose of the RCA is to protect the intellectual property rights, confidentiality obligations, publication allowances and restrictions, as well as other rights, of either/each providing party while permitting research to proceed.
Materials Transfers in Collaboration Agreements
If your request contemplates UMN providing outgoing materials to another party to further the other party’s use, and where UMN’s involvement is limited to the transferring of the UMN-materials, follow instructions on Technology Commercialization’s Request Agreements page.
If your request involves UMN providing outgoing materials to another party as part of a collaborative project, SPA’s UFRA staff will be able to assist with your request. It is anticipated that these collaboration requests involve contractual complexities, and the UFRA staff will be seeking additional information from you pertaining to your request to ensure appropriate protections and considerations are in place.
All RCAs must be reviewed by the office of Sponsored Projects Administration (SPA).
These steps explain the process of completing an incoming MTA request:
- When you have identified the need for a Research Collaboration Agreement with the other party(ies), create a Material Transfer Agreement Routing Form (MTARF) (see #2 below), and then send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org (the master email of SPA's Unfunded Research Agreement (UFRA) staff). Please list the UMN Principal Investigator name and the MTARF number in the subject line of your email. Please also include a brief description of the planned research, whether in the body of the email or as an attachment, so that UFRA staff can best tailor the RCA terms to protect the research.
- To create an MTARF, go to the EGMS homepage, select "EGMS forms," log in, and select "Make request," then "MTARF." See the MTARF instructions or view a completed sample form.
- Once the MTARF is completed and approved by the principal investigator, email email@example.com and include the MTARF number, PI name, and name of the other entity in the subject line. The MTARF system currently does not notify our team of these forms and we rely on your email to provide us with this notice.
Note: If the entity has provided a draft RCA for UMN to review, include the attachment in your email.
In most cases, the UFRA staff will need additional information pertaining to your collaboration agreement needs. Additional information that may be helpful to include with your request might include, but is not limited to:
• What is UMN’s role in the collaboration?
• What is the other party’s role in the collaboration?
• What is UMN providing? (i.e. description of material and/or data)
• What is the other party providing? (i.e. description of material and/or data)
• Do materials/data being shared require permissions in place ahead of sharing? Are the permissions in place?
• What is UMN's research interest in the project?
• What is the other party’s research interest in the project?
• What are the parties jointly preparing? (i.e. joint publication; progress reports; etc)
- The UFRA staff will review your request and contact you if more information is required. You may track the progress of your request by searching the UFRA database for your agreement by PI name, the other party, or MTARF number.
The UFRA staff will review the terms of the RCA to see how well they protect the interests of the PI and the University. They will then negotiate directly with the other party to reach agreeable terms within the RCA ahead of finalizing and executing the agreement. The time required depends on the willingness of the other party to negotiate and the timeliness of their actions as well as each party’s workload levels at the time. If this is an urgent request, be sure to advise the UFRA staff of this in your email (see Step 3 above).
- Once both parties have agreed to the terms of the RCA, the RCA will be sent to the other party(ies) for signature and a copy will be sent to you.
Note: A Principal Investigator cannot sign the RCA on behalf of UMN. SPA will sign to legally bind UMN to the RCA terms.
- You will receive a copy of the fully signed RCA from the UFRA staff once it is available.
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