Material Transfer Agreements: Incoming and Outgoing

Transfer of materials developed within the contexts of both academic and industry research provides significant opportunities for sharing and expanding upon scientific discovery, in university as well as industry settings. The volume of material transfer requests from CALS investigators continues to increase, and protection of intellectual property rights to materials or methods developed in UW-Madison laboratories, whether research is funded by federal or non-federal sponsors, remains a primary goal. MTAs also serve to protect publication rights, to avoid limiting future research, and to promote collaborative relationships with university and industry partners.

A material transfer agreement must always be in place before a principal investigator receives material from an outside source. When a PI sends material off campus (outgoing MTA), an MTA should be routed through CALS unless the material is under Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) management. Educational and non-profit organizations commonly utilize an “Implementing Letter” or “Simple Letter Agreement” under the terms of the Uniform Biological Material Transfer Agreement (UBMTA), and often these forms serve well for outgoing MTA needs. If considering providing materials to an industry collaborator, where the UBMTA is not applicable, please contact Gail Stirr (; 2-2536) for help in establishing an outgoing MTA.

Here are some important points to remember when requesting materials from or providing materials to any off-campus source:

  • Procure two original copies of an MTA (and an electronic file copy, if possible, for use in RSP review and term negotiations) from the academic institution or industry provider. Two original copies will need to be routed with an Extramural Support Transmittal Form (T-form) to CALS Research Division. Provide contact information (name, email address, FAX & phone numbers, mailing address) for the other institution/industry technology transfer office and for the party with whom you have been working. Such is necessary in case agreement terms require negotiation.
  • Remember that the formal party to the agreement is the institution, and not an individual faculty member or department. The MTA “Recipient” or “Recipient Institution” should be indicated as “The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System, on behalf of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a public educational institution located at 21 N. Park Street, Suite 6401, Madison, Wisconsin 53715-1218.”
  • As faculty requesting materials, your role may be identified in the agreement text as “Recipient Scientist” or “Recipient Investigator” and you may be asked to sign the agreement only to acknowledge understanding and acceptance of the agreement terms. ONLY the PI, as faculty member, grants manager, and graduate student/postdoctoral fellow & trainee mentor, can be named in this “Recipient Scientist/Investigator” role.
    (Graduate students/postdocs: when completing MTA requests online, e.g. from Addgene Plasmid Repository, ALWAYS USE the faculty PI name and contact information.)
  • Research & Sponsored Programs fills the role of “authorized institutional signatory” with authority to commit The Board of Regents to an agreement on behalf of the requesting faculty member. Formally, Diane Barrett as Assistant Director, Pre-Award Services serves as our authorized institutional official.
  • When you receive a copy of a proposed agreement that mistakenly names an individual faculty or a department/center as the “Recipient,” inform your contact of the appropriate information and ask for needed changes BEFORE routing the agreement.
  • For further information, plan to attend a CALS MTA training/discussion session on Thursday, May 17 from 8:30 am to 10:30 am in Parsons Penn Conference Room, Taylor Hall.

RSP link to The Principal Investigator’s Guide to Material Transfer Agreements

UBMTA Implementing Letter and UBMTA Simple Letter Agreement Word document files are available via the CALS Research Division website under “Agreement Forms.”