Material Transfer Agreement FAQs

MTA Basics: What, When, Why (do I use)?


Generally, a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) is used when any proprietary material is exchanged, the receiving party intends to use it for his/her own research purposes, and no research collaboration between scientists is planned. Typically, neither a licensing option nor rights for commercial purposes are granted under an MTA. A different agreement format may be appropriate when the parties intend to collaborate on research, or the collaborator requires exclusive licensing rights to the ensuing inventions, if any.
MTAs protect both the providing and the receiving party on ownership rights, academic publication and priority (who gets to publish first), intellectual property (who owns improvements and new inventions relating to materials) and permitted use and liability. If you do not use an MTA, you could lose valuable IP and other rights.
Yes. An MTA outlines the terms of use of tangible research materials, and protects UTA’s and your rights and ownership of intellectual property and data, and publication rights, among other things. MTAs also can allow researchers to share tangible materials as well as receive tangible materials without necessarily having to purchase them. Terms will vary from one agreement to the next.
Yes, it is usually a good idea to use a Material Transfer Agreement. UTA’s template agreements for materials can be found [here MTA UTA Non-Profit outgoing.doc] AND [here MTA UTA For-Profit outgoing.doc]. Your colleague's institution may send you his/her institution's template Material Transfer Agreement. If so, send the agreement for research projects to Agreement Management and for technology transfer to Innovation and Commercialization, for review and acceptance.

MTA Process: How to get an MTA


UT Arlington has a limited number of university signing officials. Research Administration personnel will determine the appropriate signatory for each agreement. Most faculty and staff are not authorized to commit the university in writing to an agreement. You are only a UT Arlington authorized signatory if you have a written delegation of signature authority from the President of UT Arlington.

We sometimes ask faculty to approve project specific contents of an MTA Sometimes, outside parties ask that UT Arlington personnel sign MTAs acknowledging their obligations under the MTA.

On the average, it takes a few days to a couple of weeks. If the materials are biological, and the disclosing institution uses the Uniform Biological Material Transfer Agreement, UTA will be able to sign the Implementing Letter associated with that Agreement very quickly. If the disclosing institution uses the UT Incoming MTA template, the process will also move very quickly.

Couple things, though. If you have not completed your IRB or IACUC protocol approvals, that timing will be delayed. Signatures can also be delayed by non-conforming terms of an agreement.

In many cases, disclosing institutions use MTA templates that contain terms and conditions that are unacceptable to The University of Texas at Arlington. These unacceptable terms can require the University to deviate from State of Texas laws or from federal policies related to biological materials. Due to the need to negotiate acceptable terms, signature to the MTA may be delayed and the materials may not be transferred to you as quickly as preferred. Please be aware that MTA negotiations with corporations can be particularly challenging.

MTA Unique Circumstances and Special Terms


Good news. UTA has negotiated a master MTA with a popular global nonprofit Bio-resource Center (BRC) and research organization, American Type Cell Culture (ATCC), for faster processing of orders to help make our researchers’ life sciences projects run more smoothly.

Except for a few (rare) select cases, there is now no need to go through the MTA process for each ATCC order. When you order material with ATCC, ATCC will email a special notice to inform UTA Research Administration about your order. Then, we will help you satisfy your regulatory obligations seamlessly. Once we receive the notice, our teams here with Research Administration will ask and confirm with you some straightforward questions for regulatory purposes.

For ATCC ordering process details click here.

UTA is in the process of negotiating with other popular vendors to get more master agreements in place. If we have not negotiated MTAs with a particular catalogue company, and you have a need, let us know, and we may be able to negotiate terms suited to University practice.

For sponsored research projects using an MTA, contact Agreement Management or email the Agreements Manager, and for technology transfer, contact the Innovation and Commercialization, and notify us of the MTA

Exports can require more than a simple domestic US MTA. If the material is or may be export controlled, you will need to work with Regulatory Services. UTA may need to submit a license application to the U.S. Department of Commerce (or other federal agency controlling the export process for your material), and that will delay transfers for six (6) to eight (8) weeks or more.
The“Uniform Biological Material Transfer Agreement” or “UBMTA” Master Agreement was developed by NIH, to assist academic institutions in exchange of biological materials. Many academic institutions (UT Arlington included) are signatories. As a matter of convenience, The Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) serves as the repository for the signed UBMTA Master Agreements from those institutions wishing to use the UBMTA for some or all of their exchanges of biological materials. For institutions that have signed the UBMTA Master Agreement, materials can be transferred upon execution of an Implementing Letter for the particular transfer. This can be a very convenient mechanism for the transfer of biological materials between signatory institutions, as the terms of the UBMTA have been pre-agreed by all signatory parties. Please consult for research projects, with Agreement Management, and for technology transfer, contact Innovation and Commercialization, to determine whether the UBMTA might be an effective mechanism for your MTA needs.
While many, if not most, MTAs occur without any associated fees, some MTAs do include a nominal charge to the recipient. This fee is generally calculated to offset the costs incurred by the provider in preparing and shipping the material (or animal).