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Material Transfer Agreements

An Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) is required for the transfer of materials and/or data between the University and a third party. The Contracts Team is responsible for dealing with incoming MTAs and outgoing MTAs for Human Tissue (HTA) relevant materials only. For other outgoing MTAs please contact Innovation Factory.

What is a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA)?

MTAs are legal contracts that set out the terms and conditions of the transfer and use of materials and/or data between the owner and a recipient. An MTA also sets out any relevant legislative and regulatory requirements which the recipient and provider must comply with.  

What do we mean by materials?

MTAs are used for material transfers, including but not limited to:

  • Samples
  • Compounds
  • Cultures
  • Cell lines
  • Plasmids
  • Nucleotides
  • Proteins
  • Bacteria
  • Transgenic animals
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Chemicals
  • Alloys

An MTA can also cover data, where data is being received alongside the materials. This can include anonymised, pseudo anonymised or personal data.


A Data Transfer Agreement (DTA) is a type of MTA. A DTA is used where only data/data sets are being transferred. A DTA will be used for the transfer of anonymised data, pseudonymised or personal data.

When do you need an MTA? 

An MTA is required to formalise all incoming and outgoing material transfers for research and scientific purposes. If the materials are available to purchase on the open market, an MTA will not be required as this will be a purchase arrangement handled by the Procurement Office. 

Who do I contact about an MTA?

The provider of the materials will give you an agreement for review which will set out the basis on which the materials can be used.  Please do send the agreement to the Contracts Officer assigned to your School/Department or send the request through to

Key Considerations

When you receive an MTA you will need to consider the following:

  • Are the materials and quantities stated correct;
  • If the materials are HTA relevant have you obtained the necessary HTA and ethics approvals;
  • If the materials are being sent internationally, do you need export control approval;
  • Is the purpose of use correct, noting whether they can be used for commercial or non-commercial purposes;
  • Consider any third party funding supporting the activities and whether the terms are compatible with the MTA;
  • Who can use the materials does this allow post graduate students to use the materials?
  • Who owns the end results and what rights of use to you have?

Third Party Funding 

If the materials are required for use on a project subject to third party funding terms, it is important to raise this with the Contracts Team so we can ensure there is no conflicting terms for the funding and the use of the materials.  If any conflicting terms are agreed, this will be breach of contract which could serious consequences.  

Can I sign an MTA?

The University only has a limited number of authorised signatory, so please do not sign any MTA’s on behalf of the University or in your own personal capacity where the activity is part of your role at the University.  We want to ensure that both you and University are protected, so only authorised signatories should sign any contract off on behalf of University.  The Contracts Team will look after the signature process once an agreement has been reviewed, negotiated and is ready for signature