Material Transfer Agreements
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 by way of material transfer agreements (MTAs).
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 the Office for Technology Commercialization (OTC). Follow instructions on OTC's License Agreements for Industry page.
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 Sponsored Projects Administration (SPA).
To complete an incoming MTA, license, data use agreement (DUA) or some other long term agreement with intellectual property implications, create a Material Transfer Agreement Routing Form (MTARF) or contact us at MTAgree@umn.edu.
When you have reached an agreement with the party providing the research material to you, create an MTARF form (see #2 below), and then send an email attaching the draft Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) the entity has provided you to email@example.com. Please list your name and the MTARF number in the subject line of your email. Matfirstname.lastname@example.org is the master email address used by SPA’s Unfunded Research Agreement (UFRA) staff. Please also include a brief description of the planned research so that UFRA staff can best tailor the MTA terms to protect the research.
Sometimes 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. In these cases, please create an account on the entity’s site before submitting your request to email@example.com. When you submit your request to firstname.lastname@example.org, 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 most cases, if the material comes from another university or research institute, they will likely use the "Uniform Biological Material Transfer Agreement" (UBMTA), which was 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 form. 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 standard material transfer agreement. If that is needed, simply let the UFRA staff know in your email.
- To create an MTARF, go to the EGMS homepage, select "EGMS forms", log in, and select "Make request", then "MTARF". Download MTARF instructions or view a completed sample form.
- Once the MTARF is completed and submitted by the principal investigator, print a copy (it will say "Draft" on it until we accepted it).
- Send or bring both signed copies of the MTA you received from the material provider, along with the hard copy of the MTARF, to the front desk in the SPA office at 450 McNamara Alumni Center.
- The MTA coordinator will review the file and contact you if more information is required. Email email@example.com or call (612) 625-0571 at any time for a progress report on your MTA or if your needs change. Track progress by logging in and searching for your agreement by PI name, the other party, or MTARF number. Click here for things to watch out for in the MTA process.
- The MTA professional 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 conclude the MTA. The time required depends on the willingness of the other party to negotiate and the timeliness of their actions as well as workload levels at the time; if this is an urgent request, be sure to so advise. These factors are out of the University's control. Most often, the sticking point is intellectual property; if they have patented the material, or the University has patents of its own related to the proposed research, it may take some time to work through an acceptable compromise. In very few instances, it may be that you will decide not to use that material because the price in terms of lost intellectual property rights or limits they place on your research or ability to publish are simply unacceptable. This most often happens when working with pharmaceutical developers and manufacturers. None of these terms are problematic if the other party is willing to use the UBMTA.
- 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.
- When the MTA has been fully executed, you will receive a copy of the signed MTA.