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The sharing of reagents and scientific materials is widespread throughout the scientific community and is vital for the progress of research. Most organisations (including academic institutions) will only release materials if there is a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) in place between the provider and the recipient.

An MTA is intended to define the rights of the parties primarily in respect to the extent of use of material, confidentiality, publication, ownership of intellectual property (IP). In general these agreements do not include payment for the material, although transport costs may be required.

There are two types of MTA:

  1. An outgoing MTA covers the transfer of materials owned or controlled by the University of Cambridge to another university, research institution, company or other external body, generally for research purposes (the Research Operations Office (ROO) will supply an appropriate MTA); and
  2. An incoming MTA covers the transfer of materials to the University from another university, research institution, company or other external body (the MTA is usually provided by the material provider).

It is important that both types of MTA are handled by the ROO as it ensures that the transfer of materials does not conflict with terms of existing funding (e.g. research grants, fellowships) and ensures that the terms are fit for the researchers’ intended purpose as well as adhering to the policies of the University overall.

Principal Investigators (PIs) should request incoming and outgoing MTAs through the on-line request system wherever possible (an alternative method is to send the MTA request to the ROO Contracts Administrator allocated to your School). If an MTA has been received from the external collaborator this should also be provided to the ROO for review.

Upon execution of an MTA, the PI is responsible for making arrangements with the provider or recipient for transportation and delivery of the requested material. Transportation costs, where charged, should be met by the PI’s research team or Department.

Your contracts team