Material transfer agreements (MTA)

1. What is an MTA?

MTA stands for Material Transfer Agreement.

It is an agreement where a party agrees to transfer to another party, under defined conditions, materials (for example a biochemical material – such as nucleic acids, plasmids, peptides, proteins, viruses, cells, tissues samples, living organisms etc.).

Incoming MTA” stands for MTA where a research group at EPFL receives a material from a third party.

Outgoing MTA” stands for MTA where a research group at EPFL sends out material to a third party.

2. Where can I find a model of MTA?

There are three situations to differentiate:

  • Outgoing MTAs with not-for-profit entities for non-commercial research purposes use and fill out the EPFL model.
  • Incoming MTAs with not-for-profit entities for non-commercial research purposes it is usual to accept the conditions of the provider. The TTO is available for answering questions or advice on open issues on the proposed MTA.
  • Commercial incoming and outgoing MTAs please contact the TTO prior to sign an MTA.

3. For incoming material, what shall I know and what conditions of use are requested?

You shall comply with the MTA, notably in regards with the personnel having access to the material (see 1), with the scope of use of the material (see 2), with the publication (see 3) :

  1. personnel : only EPFL employees of your laboratory with the need to use the material and know the confidential information for their work may have access to such material and information and that they shall be duly informed of their duties under the MTA.

    Often, incoming MTAs explicitly forbid subsequent distribution by the receiving party.

  2. purpose : you shall use the material only for the purpose indicated in the MTA, usually for non-commercial research and teaching purpose. 

    When you receive the material from a company, it is recommended to review carefully the conditions requested by the provider. Indeed, a company often imposes restrictions to use the results obtained with the material (confidentiality, publication delays, access rights, etc.).

    The TTO shall be consulted prior to signing an MTA with a company.

    You should be aware that the use of received materials within a collaboration (with a not-for-profit entity or with a company) is often subject to particular conditions and may be forbidden outside such specific collaboration.

  3. publication :  before you publish any results in relation with the material received, you shall ensure that you comply with the MTA. Often there is an obligation to mention the identity of the owner/provider of the material in any publication and sometimes it is requested to inform the provider about such publications.

4. When I send out material, what shall I know and take care of ?

  • You shall ensure that the material you plan to send out belongs to EPFL solely and is free of any prior right of a third party. Before sending out the material, you need to have also an MTA duly signed (see FAQ 2).
  • Our standard outgoing MTA foresees a maximum of 24 months duration.
  • If you wish to provide sensitive material of EPFL (i.e. biohazardous material, material linked with EPFL patents and inventions, material subject to export restrictions, etc.), please contact TTO to check if specific provisions shall be agreed upon with the recipient of the material.

5. May the recipient make publication regarding the Material ?

Yes, according to EPFL standard outgoing MTA available on the website, the recipient may publish according to usual practices for scientific publications. It also has to inform you of the publication and shall acknowledge the source of the material. If you wish to check the publication before, please contact the TTO that will provide to you an appropriate clause to complement the standard MTA.

6. May I distribute materials that I created in another institution ?

This is to be evaluated on a case by case basis. You may contact the TTO in case of questions. The general rule is that the written approval of the institution owner of the materials is required.

7. Who approves and signs the MTAs ?

The MTAs are signed by the head of the research group. In particular cases, such as a possible conflict of interest, the signature of a superior is needed; please consult the TTO for this.

Any MTA (incoming or outgoing MTA) granting commercial rights on EPFL material or EPFL results shall be validated by the TTO before signature.

The TTO shall be consulted prior to signing an MTA with a company.