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 MTA is a contract that dictates the terms of transfer of research materials from the donor institution to the recipient. The purpose of the MTA is to protect the intellectual property rights, as well as other rights, of the provider while permitting research with the material to proceed.
Outgoing MTAs govern the transfer of material from the U of M to another research institution, nonprofit or for-profit. All outgoing MTAs are managed by Technology Commercialization. Follow instructions on Technology Commercialization’s Request Agreements page.
Incoming MTAs & Material-sharing Collaborations
Incoming MTAs govern the transfer of material from another research institution, nonprofit or for-profit to the U of M. All incoming MTAs must be reviewed by the office of Sponsored Projects Administration (SPA).
The steps outlined below explain the process of completing an incoming MTA request.
- When you have identified the need for an inbound MTA agreement with the party providing the research material to you, create a Material Transfer Agreement Routing Form (MTARF) (see #2 below), and then send an email to email@example.com (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 MTA terms to protect the research.
In the event the provider entity will not provide you with the actual MTA document but will require you to obtain the document from their access-restricted on-line site, please create an account on the entity’s site before submitting your request to firstname.lastname@example.org. When you submit your request to email@example.com, please provide the log-in credentials in the body of your email. The SPA UFRA staff will then use those credentials to obtain and review the agreement.
In many cases, if the material comes from another university or research institute, they will likely use the "Uniform Biological Material Transfer Agreement" (UBMTA) or another MTA template from the AUTM MTA toolkit, which were developed and maintained by the National Institutes of Health for transfer of material among academic and nonprofit research institutions. If you are working with a commercial company, such as a drug firm, they may have their own template. The UFRA staff can work with either type, or if the provider entity does not have a form but still wishes to have an agreement in place, the UFRA staff will provide the provider entity with the University’s preferred material transfer agreement that best fits your needs.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
*If the entity has provided a draft MTA agreement, include the attachment in your email.
*If UMN is to initiate the MTA, please let the UFRA staff know in your email.
- 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 MTA 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 MTA ahead of finalizing and executing the MTA. 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 MTA, the MTA will be sent to the material provider for signature and a copy will be sent to you.
*Note: A Principal Investigator cannot sign the MTA on behalf of UMN. SPA will sign to legally bind UMN to the MTA terms.
- When the MTA has been fully executed, you will receive a copy of the signed MTA.
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