Materials Transfer Agreement (MTA)

A Materials Transfer Agreement is required when material (including biological materials, compounds, equipment, prototypes, data) for use in research projects is to be transferred into or out of the University on a noncommercial basis, i.e. the material is not being bought or sold.

  • The MTA will cover, amongst other things, the permitted use of the material, confidentiality, ownership, access to the results of the materials use, and liabilities.
  • If an MTA is not in place then any dispute or conflict over the use of the materials and the ownership of research results may arise.
  • You can request an agreement using RS Agreements. This provides us with the outline information required to negotiate the best possible terms on a case-by-case basis, and to ensure that the MTA does not conflict with any other conditions (e.g. research funding conditions) which could apply to the use of material. All MTAs must be approved by a University authorised signatory.
  • We can provide a draft MTA if required.
  • MTAs received from other organisations should be referred to us as soon as possible by completing the Contracts Tool and forwarding a copy to ri-contracts@sheffield.ac.uk.

Request a MTA

Buying and selling materials

  • The sale of University materials is a commercial opportunity and should be disclosed via the  Commercialisation Process.
  • The purchase of materials by the University is covered under the usual departmental procurement practices.

Providing and receiving materials

  • If you are providing material to, or receiving material from, a research colleague, either within or outside of the University, first ensure that you are permitted to do so. Examples of material include whole animals, tissue, cell lines, plasmids, compounds, polymers, screening kits, seeds, software.

What might prevent me from sharing material?

  • If the material was originally sourced from a third party, it will most likely have conditions governing its use. The material may be subject to some restrictions even if it was purchased in a commercial transaction it.
  • If the material was created in the University, the terms of the funding under which it has been developed may restrict its use.
  • Material is supplied to a specific researcher for a defined purpose, and cannot be shared with colleagues. Any other use, even within a research team, MUST be covered by a separate, dedicated MTA.

What have I got to lose?

  • Opportunity to patent, and any related income from product sales and licence royalties.
  • Breach of contract may result in legal action.
  • Research may have to be discontinued, and results to date destroyed.

What do I need to do?

  • All MTAs received for incoming material should be sent to Research Services for review and authorisation.
  • Contact us for advice before distributing any material.
  • Ensure that you are aware of the origin of materials used in your research, and that you have a record of the terms and conditions relating to its use

Who to contact

Please contact the Contracts Help Desk on 0114 22 27444 or ri-contracts@sheffield.ac.uk with new enquiries.

Contact us