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University of Michigan Innovation Partnerships
University of Michigan Innovation Partnerships

Material Transfer Agreement – Incoming

MTAs describe the terms under which University researchers and outside researchers can share materials, typically for research or evaluation purposes. In cases when only human-derived data are being shared, a request for a Data Use Agreement (DUA) should be submitted. These agreements, along with equipment leases and loans, are handled by the Office of Research and Sponsored Projects.

Incoming Material Transfer Agreements (MTA) govern the transfer of material from outside entities to U-M.  If you are an outside entity interested in sending material to a researcher at U-M, please contact and provide information about the materials and the recipient. signatures. All MTAs from the University must be reviewed and signed by U-M Innovation Partnerships.

If you are a U-M researcher and you receive an MTA from a provider entity, please complete the Unfunded Agreement (UFA) request for an incoming MTA in eResearch, under Proposal Management, to allow review of the terms and routing for proper signatures. Please be sure to upload the MTA when prompted in the online form. All MTAs from the University must be reviewed and signed by U-M Innovation Partnerships.

For additional information on how to complete an UFA request, please refer to the UFA Quick Reference Card.

Most lab members can complete the online submission form (e.g., lab manager, research administrator, graduate student, post-doc, or Principal Investigator[PI]), but PI information is required to submit the form and the PI will be notified of the MTA request.

Information You Will Need to Provide

  • Description and amount of material to be received
  • Name and contact information (including email) of the Provider
  • Funding that you will be using to support your research using the material and to pay for the material (if a fee is applicable)
  • Compliance requirements for various types of research activities that will be performed using incoming materials:
    • IRB approval for use in human subjects
    • RDRC/SHUR approval for use of radioactive material in human subjects
    • UCUCA approval for use of vertebrate animals
    • IBC approval for use of rDNA or SNA
    • HPSCRO approval for use or derivation of hiPSCs or hESCs
    • RPC approval for radioactive materials

Standard Agreements Used by U-M Innovation Partnerships

Generally, when the material is being sent from another non-profit institution in the United States and is not human-derived materials or live animals (rats, mice, etc.), U-M Innovation Partnerships will attempt to use the Uniform Biological Material Transfer Agreement (UBMTA) or a Simple Letter Agreement (SLA). If needed, U-M Innovation Partnerships will work with you to develop appropriate MTAs for materials that are being provided by a for-profit entity and negotiate the terms of the agreement.

Processing of an Incoming MTA

  • An eligible individual completes the Unfunded Agreement (UFA) request for incoming MTA in eResearch, under Proposal Management. For additional information on completing an UFA request, please refer to the UFA Quick Reference Card
  • U-M Innovation Partnerships reviews the MTA request and supporting documents and contacts the PI and/or contact person designated on the form if further information is needed
  • U-M Innovation Partnerships obtains and reviews the MTA from the outside entity (or drafts an MTA)
  • If necessary, U-M Innovation Partnerships negotiates the MTA terms
  • Upon completion of negotiation (if necessary), U-M Innovation Partnerships (and often U-M PI) sign the MTA and send it out for signature by the outside entity
  • Once U-M Innovation Partnerships receives the fully executed MTA, we notify both parties that materials can be transferred and send a copy of the final agreement for their records

Agreement Negotiations and Restrictions on Openness of Research

Negotiation is often the most protracted process. The timeline of MTA processing depends on the extent of negotiation required, timing of the outside entity getting back to us, and resolution of any compliance issues that need to be resolved prior to approval. On some occasions, providers will attempt to impose restrictions on the openness of research, control how the materials can be used, and control how results generated from the use of the materials may be shared with the research community. If any such restrictions are included in the proposed incoming material transfer agreement, U-M Innovation Partnerships will attempt to negotiate them out; often, these restrictions can be eliminated. In some cases, we may require department approval to move forward with agreements for which we are unable to negotiate preferred terms. You can always check the status of your MTA on the web through the Unfunded Agreement (UFA) page in the eResearch Portal.


Should I submit an MTA request if I’m paying a third party to analyze some samples as a service and not for the third party’s research purposes?

No, these types of fee-for-service arrangements are handled by Procurement and you should contact them.

Should I submit an MTA request if I am only receiving or sending data without any physical materials?

No, in this case you will need to submit a request for a Data Use Agreement (DUA) through eResearch, which will be processed by ORSP.

Do I need to submit a request for an MTA if I am receiving an equipment loan?

No, you should contact ORSP with this request.

Can I charge a fee for providing samples to a non-profit entity?

As part of a non-profit institution supported by federal funding, U-M researchers may not charge for their materials to other non-profit institutions per NIH sharing policy. However, you can be reimbursed for all expenses directly incurred by the laboratory as a result of fulfilling the transfer. These include preparation of chemicals or reagents, portion of the cost of maintenance of an animal colony, technician time required to prepare materials and paperwork, along with all shipping costs associated with the transfer. If you have a question about whether an expense is reimbursable, please contact

Can I charge a fee for providing samples to a for-profit entity?

When transferring materials to a company, U-M Innovation Partnerships can negotiate a fee-MTA where recipient pays a one-time fee upon entering into an agreement. In addition, depending on the intended use of the materials by the company, U-M Innovation Partnerships can enter into a license agreement. To learn more about different options available to you, please contact a licensing specialist.

Are there any additional requirements for Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Investigators?

Yes, in addition to U-M policies, investigators that are employed by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute are also subject to HHMI policies for sending materials that meet the above criteria. Please reference the following: HHMI Policies Regarding MTA.

Can I submit an outgoing MTA request for human-derived materials if the IRB study that covers them has a pending amendment that directly impacts their collection and/or transfer?

Yes, you can still submit an MTA request for transfer of these materials. However, the MTA will not be finalized until this amendment is approved by the IRB.

I would like to have an open-ended collaboration with a scientist at a non-profit entity where I will send materials now, and later her/she will send me results/data/materials that will be determined over the course of the research. Can I submit an MTA request for such an open-ended collaboration?

No, this is not generally done by U-M Innovation Partnerships. A two-way agreement can be formulated, but both parties have to be clear upfront on the materials to be transferred. U-M Innovation Partnerships does not discourage such open-ended collaborations, but in these cases it will be easy to submit a request for an incoming MTA when your collaborator is ready to send you materials.

For More Information

MTAs are administered by U-M Innovation Partnerships. Intellectual property rights can be endangered if materials are used without a proper MTA. For help with any MTA matter, contact John Corthell.