Material Transfer Agreements

UC Berkeley encourages the transfer of research materials to and from the campus. Physical transfer of regulated materials (i.e. radioactive, hazardous or controlled substances or biohazardous agents) must be done in compliance with applicable laws and regulations. Any receipt of such materials by UCB must also comply with these regulations.

Before material can be transferred, a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) must be in place. This ensures that subsequent use, care, and further distribution is regulated and also protects the rights of both parties. Below is further information on MTAs and the correct procedures to follow. If you are submitting a request related to COVID-19, please specify "COVID-19" in the project description on the request form.

MTAs for incoming materials are processed by the Industry Alliances Office (IAO) while MTAs for outgoing materials are processed by the Office of Technology Licensing (OTL).


A Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) is an agreement between the University and a provider that covers receipt of research materials, software used in research, and research data from the provider (which may be another institution, company, laboratory, or agency). All MTA requests for incoming materials or data are routed to the Industry Alliances Office (IAO) for negotiation and execution.

Register with the Industry Alliance Office by completing the registration form. The Principal Investigators and their Administrative Assistant must sign a completed MTA Registration Form and return it to the IAO. Afterwards, either the PI or the registered Assistant can submit an MTA Request Form electronically without it having to be signed.

Fully complete the MTA Request Form for incoming materials and email it to copying your Principal Investigator if applicable.

Since the winter of 2015, Berkeley has been transitioning from a paper-based MTA request process to an online-based form in Phoebe. CSS/Department Research Administrators are encouraged to use Phoebe for all new MTAs for incoming materials. Contact IAO with any questions about MTAs and for Phoebe-related questions.

Incoming MTAs were previously requested using a paper form, and a Lab Manager, grad student, faculty, or other employee working with the materials may have requested the MTA directly from IAO. Phoebe replaces the former Material Request Form. CSS/Department Research Administrators are now responsible for creating the Phoebe record for new incoming MTA requests, and the material user will be responsible for completing the Questions tab prior to submission to IAO.

For general Phoebe proposal preparation instructions, visit Phoebe Proposal Development guidance. This guidance will focus on the specifics of Material Transfer Agreements and will highlight the differences in requirements.

Only CSS/Department Research Administrators have permission to create MTA records in Phoebe. Material requesters, such as Lab Managers, Graduate Students, Postdocs, and Researchers, will need to be added as “aggregators” on the Permissions tab. This way, the material requester will be able to log into Phoebe and answer the questions on the Questions tab as well as upload any required compliance information.

Please refer to the Phoebe Proposal Development - MTAs on how to submit an MTA for incoming materials to the Industry Alliances Office.


In order to start the MTA process for outgoing materials, start by filling out the outgoing MTA request form. This form will ask you to provide the following information:

  1. Does the material belong to UC Berkeley? Or was it acquired in-part or in-whole from a third party? If so, under what arrangement and from whom (i.e., under an MTA, informal transfer, purchased, etc). Was the original Berkeley material modified with third party material?
  2. If it is UC Berkeley material, is it covered under an invention disclosed to our office? If so, what is the UC Berkeley OTL case number? If not, what federal agency funded the creation of the material?
  3. What is the name, title and institution of both the UC Berkeley P.I. sending the material and the receipting of the material (P.I. only). What is the name and description of the material? Is there a publication, web link or write up about the material? If so, please provide.
  4. Please provide a ten word description of the requester’s research (use of the material). If you don’t have this, we can obtain this from the requesting researcher once the MTA has been requested.

This general information is a starting point for drafting of the appropriate MTA for outgoing materials and will help speed the MTA process. We will let you know when your outgoing MTA is completed.​

MTAs for live animals or custom antibodies must have protocol(s) reviewed and approved by the Animal Care and Use Committee.

MTAs for human tissue must have protocol(s) reviewed by the Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects.

MTAs for hazardous materials and/or select agents must follow EH&S compliance procedures.

MTAs where the decision to undertake the research is based on receiving access to the material(s) from a nongovernmental provider must follow Conflict of Interest Committee requirements for financial disclosure.

Confidentiality: When confidential information is exchanged along with the material, the company may request that such information not be further disclosed. If the information is necessary for interpretation of the research results obtained using the material, that same information may also be required for publication of those results. Having agreed to hold the information confidential could prohibit an investigator from ever publishing the results of work using the company’s material.

Delay in publication: In order to protect potentially patentable inventions, companies often demand a review period for the investigator’s manuscripts, abstracts or hard-copies of presentation materials. This demand may jeopardize the timeliness of publication.

Use of materials in sponsored research projects: Many industry MTAs contain language that prohibits the use of the material in research that is subject to licensing or consulting obligations to any third party, including the sponsor of the research project.

Definition of material: The industry provider may propose a definition of material that includes not only the original material, but also modifications or derivatives made from the material that incorporate the investigator’s original ideas or concepts. If the provider also claimed ownership of the modified material, the provider could own the results of the investigator’s research. The investigator could be prevented from using research results in further research, transferring them to other organizations, meeting obligations to research sponsors, or ensuring that the results are made public.

Loss of control of intellectual property: If MTAs preempt ownership rights, investigators may be restricted in their ability to interact with a future sponsor or may have conflicts with obligations to current sponsors. Intellectual property restrictions may prevent the institution from obtaining or conveying rights to future licensees.

Conflicts with existing agreements: Industrial MTAs may contain obligations that conflict with obligations in a preexisting agreement. Also, the material may be used in conjunction with a separate material received under another MTA. These situations could result in granting two or more parties conflicting rights to the same invention.

When MTAs are used in conjunction with federally funded research, the federal government has certain rights to resulting inventions (Bayh-Dole Act).

For more information, visit our FAQs page or Contact Us

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