Material Transfer Agreements (MTAs) are legally binding contracts used to transfer tangible research material between two organizations (the provider and the recipient). MTAs specify the recipient's permitted uses of the material, determine rights granted to each party, and provide protections for each party's intellectual property.

MTAs define the material being transferred and sets forth terms and conditions with respect to issues such as ownership, permitted uses of the material, publication of results, development of inventions and liability. Establishing conditions prior to the transfer of material avoids issues and misunderstandings after the research has begun. Breaching an MTA creates legal and financial risks for the institution and researchers involved.

Outbound MTAs allow CU Boulder researchers to provide materials to recipients while protecting CU Boulder’s intellectual property (IP).

Inbound MTAs from providers establish CU Boulder’s publication and IP rights arising from the research and preserve IP rights in the provider's materials.CU Boulder negotiates and executes MTAs on a case-by-case basis because each situation may necessitate different terms and conditions.

How to Initiate a Material Transfer Agreement

Contract Administrators in the Office of Contracts and Grants (OCG) are the authorized representatives on behalf of CU Boulder for negotiation and execution of MTAs. Requests for both inbound and outbound MTAs can be initiated through the MTA Online Request Form.

Once the MTA request received, a Contract Administrator will perform due diligence of the request, as follows:

  1. Conduct an initial review and thorough analysis of the request.
  2. Correspond with the CU Boulder Principal Investigator (PI), asking additional questions to ensure comprehensive understanding of the necessity and needs of the contract.
  3. Collaborate with Venture Partners at CU Boulder, the Office of University Counsel, the Office of Research Integrity, the Office of Environmental Health & Safety, the Facilities Security Officer and other campus offices as necessary to ensure compliance with CU Boulder policies.
  4. Negotiate and correspond directly with the other party's contractual point of contact while copying the PI for transparency.
  5. Coordinate execution once negotiations are final.

Please note: The delegation of signature authority for MTAs at CU Boulder is held by OCG. PIs cannot sign MTAs on behalf of CU Boulder.


Transferring Export Controlled Material

All transfers of research materials, software, or data must comply with export control and trade sanction regulations.

Under U.S. export control laws, a license may be required from the Bureau of Industry and Security of the Department of Commerce for the export of certain materials. There are, for instance, controls on the export of materials that could possibly be used in chemical or biological weapons. Examples of such materials include human pathogens, zoonosis, toxins, animal pathogens, genetically modified microorganisms, plant pathogens, radioactive materials, magnetic metals, propellants and ceramic materials.

A PI who is planning to transfer materials outside the United States, that are controlled by the Department of Commerce Export Administration Regulations or the Department of State International Traffic in Arms Regulations should work with the CU Boulder’s Office of Research Integrity to obtain the required license. There are civil and criminal penalties for violating the Export Administration Regulations. For more information, please consult CU Boulder's Export Controls website.