OpenMTA`s design objectives reflect the principles of “openness” outlined in the Open Definition (opendefinition.org/ Open Definition). These design objectives, as well as additional objectives to ensure the safety and sharing of biomaterials in the international context, have been used as a guide for the development of the OpenMTA legal text. Material Transfer Agreements (MMAs) are contractual documents that are used for the acquisition of various biological and research materials, as well as, occasionally, data developed by non-profit, public and private companies. Often, these materials are a necessary part of a research project and are only available from a single source. The agreement defines the ownership of the equipment, the rights of the recipient and the supplier with respect to the use of the equipment and the responsibility of the safeguards. MTAs are the most used to send materials between two universities for collaborations or to provide materials for an examiner`s projects. Some stocks of organic materials or commercial suppliers also require MTAs before certain materials can be delivered to the recipient. Cooperation agreements involving researchers from more than one organization may develop formally at the beginning of the preparation of the proposal or be formally required by a funding agency as part of a proposal. Where there is cooperation with a staff member of a commercial enterprise, it is necessary to formalize a cooperation agreement with the university and to address intellectual property rights. Cooperation agreements with a commercial enterprise must be verified by Contracting Services. If collaboration exists between a researcher from the University of Arizona and a non-University of Arizona, a non-company auditor, a statement of intent is considered a proven method.
The Memorandum of Understanding should contain a declaration of cooperation, the identification of the scientists responsible for each activity and one or two sentences describing what each collaborator will bring. This letter should only be between the auditors, unless the promoter requires a signature from the university, in which case contract services must be involved. Material transfer agreements (ATMs) are subject to a legal framework in which biodecemic experts set the conditions for sharing biomaterials, ranging, for example, from plasmid DNA to patient samples. If ATMs are easy to use and well-adapted to the needs of researchers, institutions and wider communities, there may be more sharing, innovation and translation. However, current MTA frameworks were developed in the 1990s – prior to the widespread introduction of the World Wide Web, genome sequencing and genetic synthesis – and are not always well suited to contemporary or socially oriented research and translation practices. Currently, the most widely used MTA in biology and biotechnology is the Uniform Biological Material Transfer Agreement (UBMTA), developed and widely used in the 1990s (www.ott.nih.gov/resources/).