Finance & Research Administration

Materials Transfer Agreements

Material transfer agreements facilitate the transfer of various kinds of materials for use in research projects, for example, biological materials, compounds, equipment, prototypes and data. Such agreements should be considered research contracts and sent to your accountant for review. A Materials Transfer Approval Form (MTF), should accompany the agreement.


Material Transfer Agreements

As a general rule, the University is required to sign agreements with providers of materials and data used in projects before the transfer can take place. These agreements often include terms and conditions regarding intellectual property (IP) rights, publication privileges and restrictions, confidentiality of information, indemnification and warranty provisions. Negotiations of the terms of the agreement with the provider often are necessary.

To the extent possible, the University seeks to avoid the acceptance of terms and conditions that impose liabilities or obligations. It is not possible to evaluate the seriousness or the likelihood of potential liabilities and obligations for the University without knowing something about the materials being transferred and how they are to be used.


Material transfer agreements should be sent to your accountant for review and processing, along with a Materials Transfer Approval Form (MTF).

Materials Transfer Forms (MTFs) accompanying MTAs may be processed with only the signature of the PI (i.e., no signatures of or for the Chair or Dean) if:

  1. the materials being requested will be used in a sponsored project that has a fully approved (signed) PAF; or
  2. the MTA does not contain any IP terms or publication restrictions.

In all other cases, the MTF must be signed by the appropriate chairperson and dean or director. The MTF informs the Department Chair and Dean's Office of the kind of materials to be received and the nature of their application. It also ensures that the proposed research will be reviewed for consistency with institutional policies and mission.

Attach a brief description of the materials and their intended use to the MTF. This information assists in determining any contractual conditions that need to be modified or removed and University exposure to liabilities. The Risk Management Office must be informed as to obligations for indemnification so that the University has some idea as to the extent of its potential financial and legal exposure.

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.

For further information on material transfer agreements, please contact your accountant.