Material Transfer Agreements (MTAs)
MTA policy and guidance documents
- MTA Guiding Principles [pdf]
- MTA Preferred Terms and Conditions [pdf]
- MTA Guidance Notes Academic Staff [pdf]
Types of MTA and who to contact
An MTA-in covers the transfer of "Materials" (a term used generically and which encapsulates, for example, human tissue, data, software, robots etc.) to the College from another university, a company or other external body and are dealt with by the Research Office. The process is outlined below.
An MTA-out covers the transfer of materials owned or controlled by the College to another university, company or other external body for research purposes. These are dealt with by Faculty Research Services teams.
An MTA-out where the College is approached to transfer materials to a commercial company, such supply is normally to support the company’s commercial activities. These transfers should involve a fee and are dealt with by the Industry Partnerships and Commercialisation team in Enterprise.
MTA-in Working Process
Principal Investigators (PI) are required to send MTA requests with a completed MTA questionnaire and the relevant agreement (preferably in Word format to enable editing if necessary) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Where an MTA exists in hardcopy only, it should be forwarded with the completed questionnaire to the Research Office: Level 5, Sherfield Building, Exhibition Road, London SW7 2AZ.
The MTA working process is outlined below:
- PI sends MTA request with completed questionnaire and the relevant agreement to email@example.com
- Email sent to PI acknowledging receipt of MTA request within five working days of receipt of MTA and questionnaire
- MTA is logged by the Research Office and assigned a reference number
- Marked-up version of the MTA emailed by Research Office to materials supplier and copied to PI (or a summary of changes provided) within ten working days of receipt of the MTA request. Attempts made (where necessary) by Research Office to negotiate reasonable terms of access to the materials; MTA revised by Research Office to comply with Colleges preferred terms and conditions
- When terms and conditions agreed, final signature process for MTA completed at earliest opportunity by Research Office; details of any special conditions sent to PI. Research Office will notify PI as soon as MTA is executed via email with a summary of terms and executed MTA
- Upon execution of an MTA, the PI is responsible for making arrangements with the provider for transportation and delivery of the requested material. Transportation costs, where charged, should be met by the PI or their department.
Frequently asked questions
Reasons for delays/issues
• Reasonable attempts are made by the Research Office to contact unresponsive providers of materials, but where the provider fails to respond after three attempts negotiations will not continue. In this situation, MTA referred back to PI. This is to help ensure MTA requests are not held indefinitely, and all requests are dealt with as quickly as possible.
• Where the negotiated MTA continues to conflict with the terms and conditions of a charitable research funder, the PI will be informed that the materials provider is unwilling to change the provisions of the MTA. It is the responsibility of the PI to contact the grant liaison officer or other contact at the funder to enquire how to proceed, and/or whether the funder can confirm that it is willing to waive its funding provisions relating to IP for the particular research plan involving the requested materials. The Research Office will provide guidance.
My provider can't send me a draft MTA as they are a small organisation-any advice?
Please contact the MTA team via email address firstname.lastname@example.org and they can send you an MTA template to be completed by your provider. The majority of providers (especially other Universities) will send you a draft MTA on request but certain organisations for example based in developing countries may require an MTA template
I want materials from one of my Collaborators and they have agreed to send them to me. What do I need to do?
You simply request your contact to send you a draft Material Transfer Agreement. It is your contacts materials or more specifically their organisations responsibility to set the terms and conditions of you receiving the materials. Therefore your contact will internally contact their legal department to issue you a draft Material Transfer Agreement. Their legal department may request you to provide your details, who is the authorised signatory at Imperial College London & the specific materials/amount which is being sent to you. Afterwards you should receive a draft MTA via email which you then include in your MTA request to the Research Office.
I’m about to request a draft MTA from my provider and they have asked me for the details of the authorised signatory at Imperial College?
The legal signatory for MTA’s IN is:
Name: Wayne Murrell
Address: Research Office
Imperial College London
Level 5 Sherfield Building
Tel: +44(0)20 7594 7284
Why do we need to complete a questionnaire? Is this just form filling and a waste of time?
Completing a questionnaire actually speeds up the authorisation process otherwise we have to go back and forth via email querying on issues for example student involvement (we have to arrange student IP letters) so it’s basically how we do our due diligence in an efficient manner. We’ve added questions for example on involvement in COVID 19 research and Data as this is also used for Data Agreements. The questionnaire is designed in a tick box format to help simplify the questions and so it isn’t an onerous task for the PI. The majority of terms and conditions in an MTA are fairly straight forward but on occasion we may need to negotiate. You are helping us to negotiate ‘smartly’ with the provider on your behalf. If you provide us no information then we don’t understand your circumstances.
Can I get materials instantly? I just want to borrow some from a Collaborator
Please ensure you plan enough time in your research project for MTA’s. If you are requesting materials from a provider you have no control over how long this will take as you are an external party. It involves two different organisations legal departments agreeing to the terms and conditions in the draft MTA and getting all parties to sign off. MTA’s are not forms but legal documents between two organisations agreeing to use materials for research purposes. Please ensure you give the Research Office the allocated time to review and authorise the MTA on your behalf to avoid any delays to your research projects.