Material Transfer Agreements

Materials Transfer Agreements (MTAs) govern the transfer of materials from the owner or their authorised licensee (usually referred to as ‘the provider’) to a third party (usually referred to as ‘the recipient’) who may wish to use the material for research purposes.

Materials can include cultures, cell lines, plasmids, nucleotides, proteins, bacteria, transgenic animals, pharmaceuticals, other chemicals, alloys and other materials with scientific or commercial value.

Most commercial organisations, and an increasing number of academic institutions, will only release materials if there is an MTA in place between the provider and the recipient.

An MTA offers a number of important benefits to the provider. Such an agreement can:

  • give them control over the distribution of the material
  • enable them to restrict the use of the material to non-commercial research
  • reduce their legal liability for the recipient’s use of the material, and
  • help them gain access to the results of the research, both for information purposes and for commercial exploitation.

UCL has a Material Transfer Agreements (MTA) Policy. To find UCL’s MTA policy, visit UCL Innovation and Enterprise, you will need to use your UCL login. The UCLB team is responsible for approving, negotiating terms and signing all incoming and outgoing material transfer agreements on behalf of UCL (subject to certain exceptions set out in UCL’s MTA policy).

It is important that we review all MTAs to ensure UCL does not agree terms that may be in conflict with the provisions of research grants, fellowships, consultancies and so on. Among the important issues to be negotiated are publication rights, intellectual property (IP) rights and inventorship, governing law, warranties and indemnities.

MTA Guidelines

We publish guidelines for both Outgoing Material Transfers and Incoming Material Transfers. So if you wish to either send materials to, or receive them from, a non-UCL researcher please download the relevant document using the links to the right of this page.

Outgoing Material Transfers

If you want to send materials to a non-UCL researcher, we’ll draft an MTA and send it to the recipient for review.

If the UCL materials are to be used for research of a commercial nature we will offer an appropriate commercial licence. Commercial research includes but is not limited to:

  • contract research
  • research conducted at commercial businesses
  • consultancy
  • any research where there is a direct commercial benefit to the recipient or their employer, either now or at some point in the future.

What this does not include is research conducted using charitable or internal funds.

Note: should the recipient wish to commercialise the results of such work they must inform us before doing so.

Incoming Material Transfers

If you receive an MTA for materials to be sent to UCL, we’ll review this as quickly as possible and get back to you with any problems. The most common issues that arise include those relating to indemnities, governing law and claims to arising IP that may conflict with grant conditions or other obligations.

MTAs are legally binding contracts. As such, they can only be executed by an authorised signatory of UCL Business on behalf of UCL.

We will always endeavour to complete our side of the MTA process as quickly as possible. However, an agreement may require further negotiation and action from the other party which could take several weeks, especially if they are located abroad. Wherever possible, please plan your materials’ needs as far ahead as possible to avoid delays to your research.

Please note that UCLB does not review MTAs that form part of a clinical trial. These are handled by the UCL Joint Research Office. If you need help with an MTA that forms part of a clinical trial, or have any questions in relation to a clinical trial MTA, please contact the UCL Joint Research Office.


For a confidential, no obligation discussion about the possibilities and opportunities for your novel idea, please contact your Business Manager.
Guidelines for Outgoing Material Transfer
Guidelines for Incoming Material Transfer
MTA Due Diligence Form – Outgoing
MTA Due Diligence Form – Incoming
Frequently Asked Questions for MTAs

If you need help with an MTA for incoming materials, please complete the MTA request form above or if you want to provide materials to a third party, please complete the Due Diligence form and forward them to

If you have any questions about MTAs or the process for completing them, please contact the MTA team at