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Material Transfer Agreements

  • A MTA is a type of enforceable agreement (contract) used when two or more parties are shipping, sharing, loaning, or sometimes selling physical research materials. The MTA will define ownership of the material and its associated intellectual property rights. Each party's rights and responsibilities with regard to the material will be defined.

  • Yes. Texas State University uses two types of MTA.

    • Other than Biological

      The Other than Biological MTA should be used for the transfer of equipment, research tools, proprietary procedures or know-how. Any transferred material that is not biological in nature would fall under this type of MTA.

    • Uniform Biological Material Transfer Agreement

      The Uniform Biological Material Transfer Agreement (UBMTA) should be used when the transferred material is biological in nature, such as fish stock, cell lines, DNA samples, etc.

  • A MTA is required whenever material is being transferred between two or more parties. However, there are some exceptions.The office of Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP) will review the circumstances and make a determination. Many institutions also have a MTA policy and may require their own documentation. Even hand-deliveries and pick ups require an agreement.

  • The process should begin at least 30 days prior to shipment to allow time for review and negotiation. This includes material being brought onto campus. If the provider does not have a MTA procedure in place, the Contract and IP specialist in the Technology Transfer and Contracts (TTC) will provide a template.

  • Fill in the appropriate questionnaire and contact the ORSP.

    Examples of Materials

    • Cell lines
    • DNA libraries
    • Monoclonal antibodies
    • Organisms
    • Reagents
    • Growth factors
    • Drugs
    • Clones/Cloning tools
    • Animal models
    • Computer Software
    • Devices/equipment
    • Chemicals

MTA Policy and Procedure

We at Texas State University are committed to excellence in undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education, through the preservation and transmission of knowledge, as well as the generation of knowledge through research, scholarship, and creative expression. The following procedure contributes to the implementation of this policy.

The transfer of materials between scientists is an important part of academic and scientific cooperation. To ensure that the appropriate measures are taken to protect the intellectual property of the University and its faculty, maintain confidentiality where appropriate, and to minimize risk to the University and its faculty and staff, it is necessary to implement this policy.

Faculty or departmental administrators do not have the authority to accept these agreements on behalf of the University. Accepting such agreements without an authorized University signature may result in the assumption of unnecessary personal liability.

*Some transfers may fall under Export Control Regulations. Please refer to the Interim Policy dated 06/20/06.


Scientists may wish to exchange a variety of materials between labs and other entities including but not limited to:

  • Plant, human, or animal-derived biological samples
  • Materials samples
  • Research animals
  • Research tools
  • Viruses and bacterial cultures

The purpose of these exchanges may be to further a line of research questioning, enhance scientific collaboration, confirm research findings or to provide materials for testing and commercialization.

Texas State University faculty and staff may engage in such transfers with other public and private universities, non-profit organizations and commercial entities.

In engaging in such transfers, it is important to ensure the following:

The consistent use of a standardized Materials Transfer Agreement by university faculty and staff ensures the following:

  • Health and safety standards have been followed
  • Intellectual property has been adequately protected
  • Risk to the university is minimized
  • Confidentiality is maintained where appropriate
  • Costs of processing and shipping needs are addressed
  • The university maintains accurate records of all such transactions
  • Export Control regulations have been followed


A Materials Transfer Agreement or MTA is an agreement between two entities exchanging tangible research materials. It is the responsibility of Pre and Post Award Support Services to review, negotiate, and execute all such agreements. Depending upon the material being transferred or received, other university compliance personnel may be involved with the review process including but not limited to:

  • Environmental Health, Safety & Risk Management (EHS&RM)
  • Institutional Review Board (IRB)
  • Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC)
  • Intellectual Property Committee
  • University Attorney

MTAs are needed for both incoming and outgoing materials. The agreements are put in place to ensure the protection of the university's and its faculty's interests.


  • Outgoing Materials

    Under no circumstances should materials be transferred prior to the full execution of a MTA. Faculty and staff should contact ORSP as far in advance as possible to any materials being transmitted to another entity. ORSP will provide the necessary agreements and transmission forms and obtain needed signatures both from Texas State University and from the outside entity. The Compliance Specialist will evaluate the items being transferred for any other needed actions. Agreements and forms will vary by material being transferred. Only the Associate Vice President for Research and Sponsored Programs and the Director of Pre and Post Award Support Services have the authority to sign outgoing MTAs.

    In some cases a contract between the University and the receiving entity may cover the transfer of materials. In this case, a separate MTA will not be required. All such contracts must be reviewed and signed per UPPS 03.04.02 and 03.04.04 covering contracts.

  • Incoming Materials

    Outside entities may have their own MTAs. All such documents need to be forwarded to the ORSP for review and university-authorized signature. If the MTA contains clauses that conflict with existing agreements or conflict with university and/or state and federal policy, ORSP will negotiate with the outside entity to resolve the situation. Upon successful negotiation, the document will be signed and returned to the donor. If the transferring entity does not have a standard MTA, ORSP will provide the donor with our template and obtain the necessary signatures. The receiving party should contact ORSP before requesting materials. Materials should not be accepted without an agreement.

    Should negotiations fail; the material will not be accepted. If material has been shipped it will be returned to the Donor.

    A MTA will not be required for standard purchase orders or catalogue supply orders unless:

    • The catalogue company has an agreement as part of their terms of use. In this case a review of the terms is required.
    • The materials in question involve any of the following:
      1. Biological samples: plants, human or animal
      2. Controlled Hazardous Materials

    In some cases a contract between the University and the transferring entity may cover the transfer of materials. In this case, a separate MTA will not be required. All such contracts must be reviewed and signed per UPPS 03.04.02 and 03.04.04 covering contracts.