Material Transfer Agreements

Updated on 7 July 2023

A material transfer agreement (MTA) is a contract that governs the transfer of material between researchers.

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An MTA is usually needed for research purposes, but can also be for testing or evaluation purposes. Research materials can include compounds and biological materials, as well as data and software. Most organisations will only release materials if there is an MTA in place.

The function of an MTA is to:

  • regulate the use and distribution of the material
  • define legal provisions, such as warranties, indemnities and allocation of risk, and clarify any regulatory requirements
  • specify each party’s access to the results of the research
  • define the rights and obligations of the parties with respect to confidentiality, publication and use of results, and ownership of intellectual property (IP).

It can be viewed as a means of protecting the parties’ research and commercial interests in valuable property.

The way in which new requests for MTAs are handled within the University is changing. This will apply to MTAs for incoming materials as well as those to materials supplied by the University to third parties (including other universities).

For the Schools of Life Sciences and Medicine, there are School-based contacts who should be contacted in the first instance.

Schools MTA contacts

School of Life Sciences: Paul Davies and MRC-Operations (PPU), Charlotte Green (DDU), Louise McGreavey (CeTPD), Louise Stanley , and Owen Adams.

School of Medicine: Irene Allan

Your School contact will ask you to complete an MTA Declaration Form and to provide relevant information.

For cases where the University is supplying materials to third parties using the University’s Standard MTA, then subject to the protection of the University’s intellectual property interests, the School contact will be able to complete and sign off the MTA for you without reference to RIS. This delegation of devolved signing authority will hopefully speed up the provision of MTAs for the vast majority of supplies by us to third parties, at no additional risk to the University.

For cases where the University is receiving materials from third parties, the relevant information you need to provide may include the third party’s MTA, any associated agreements and correspondence. In these cases, your School contact will liaise with the RIS Contracts Service to have the terms of the MTA agreed. The terms of some incoming MTAs, especially from industry, can favour the provider and restrict your use of the results. As this may be incompatible with funding terms, some negotiation by RIS may be required on occasion.

The presence of School contacts for Medicine and Life Sciences reflect the relative volume of MTAs across the University and the perception that RIS can become a bottleneck in some cases.

MTA enquiries

For Schools other than Life Sciences and Medicine, Research and Innovation Services (RIS) will continue to support MTA requests, which should be sent to the MTA enquiry address, monitored by RIS:

All general enquiries about the transfer of materials should also be sent to the MTA enquiry address. There is no longer a named MTA contact within RIS.


Research and Innovation Services