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Anschutz Medical Campus

University of Colorado Denver

Transferring Materials

What is a materials transfer agreement?

A Materials Transfer Agreement (MTA) is a legally binding contract used to transfer research materials or other tangible materials for evaluation and experimental use, without transferring title or ownership of the materials to the user.

Outgoing MTAs allow CU researchers to send materials to a company or research collaborator while protecting the intellectual property of the CU researchers. Incoming MTAs from companies and research institutions serve the same purpose of protecting the interests of the company/institution sending materials to CU researchers. The agreements below focus on biological materials, but similar agreements are used to transfer samples of chemical compounds, transgenic animals, and other types of tangible research materials.

Who can sign an MTA?

MTAs are official legal contracts, and researchers, academic institutions, and companies are obliged to live up to the provisions they contain. Providers of materials need to have written agreements to be sure that there is a common understanding of how the materials can be used, and a common determination of the rights granted to each party. Breach of these agreements creates legal and financial risks for the institution and researchers involved.

Only the directors of campus Technology Transfer Offices have the delegated authority to execute these agreements; researchers should only sign the MTAs as acknowledgment of the conditions of the transfer. CU Innovations will provide a summary of the terms and conditions of an MTA, and it is important to understand and comply with the requirements.

MTA sample templates

  • UBMTA: Document created by the NIH which simplifies the transfer of materials to other academic institutions already authorized to sign UBMTAs. CU is able to sign UBMTA's without any additional negotiation.

  • Academic MTA: CU template to transfer materials to or from other academic institutions. Reasonable intellectual property terms with a focus on academic collaboration.

  • Commercial MTA: Transfers material to or from a company.

For help transferring materials, use the Consultation button below, or send an email to