Material Transfer Agreements

A Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) is a contract that governs the exchange of materials between the University and other institutions for research purposes. Materials can include cultures, cell lines, plasmids, nucleotides, proteins, bacteria, transgenic animals, pharmaceuticals and other chemicals. MTAs could also involve data, designs or machinery. MTAs can consist of short, simple implementing letters or more detailed contracts.

The MTA outlines the conditions necessary to allow the transfer to occur and seeks to prevent possible legal issues in the future. Ownership, modification, limits of use, publication rights, indemnification, confidentiality and intellectual property rights are all key issues described in a typical MTA. It is essential for researchers to understand the details of MTAs, whether they are receiving or supplying materials. Unfortunately, it is possible to sign away important rights in an effort to speed up the transfer process. The researcher could find themselves restricted from publication or ownership of any rights that come from an invention made involving the material.

We recommend that researchers involve the Office of Innovation, Partnerships and Economic Development (IPED) early in the process of material transfer to and from external agencies or institutions. This should be done sooner rather than later, so valuable research is not held up by last minute negotiations.

The Material Transfer Agreement Process

1. Please go to Forms and download an MTA Questionnaire.

Fill out the appropriate questionnaire and attach any supporting documentation, including draft MTAs that you may have received, or sponsored research contracts involving the work. For assistance or for more information, call 807-343-8724. Please make sure that the Principal Investigator signs the MTA Questionnaire.

2. Submit the completed questionnaire to the IPED office by email ( or by fax (807-766-7178).

3. The IPED office will promptly review the questionnaire and supporting documents, and call if they require more information. The IPED office will then negotiate and draft an appropriate MTA.

4. When all parties have agreed to the terms of the MTA, the IPED office will send the document out for authorized signatures. The MTA must be signed according to Lakehead University policies.

5. When the MTA has been signed, you will receive a copy from the IPED office.

If you have any questions about the Material Transfer Agreement process, or whether an MTA is required for your material exchange, please contact Ellen MacKay, Director, Innovation Development, EDI office at 807-343-8724 or by email