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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Technology Transfer Agreements

Agreements with outside organizations, whether public or private, produce many direct benefits. They allow research scientists to obtain expertise, proprietary products, and information that would not otherwise be available to them. The selection of the type of agreement to use is important. It is not just a matter of choice, but often a matter of law, regulation, or policy. Different situations require specific types of agreements and actions.  ARS has a number of technology transfer agreements, such as, but not limited to, the following:

••         Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) 

••         Material Transfer Agreement (MTA)

••      DATA Material Transfer Agreement (ATD)

••         Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA)

••         Material Transfer Research Agreement (MTRA)


Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)

A NDA, sometimes referred to as Confidentiality Agreement perform several functions. A NDA permits parties to exchange confidential information and data in order to determine whether they would like to enter into a research collaboration or license agreement. The signatories of a NDA agree to not disclose technical information received from the other party.

In- NDA For ARS Receiving Information

Out- NDA For ARS Providing Information

ExchangeNDA For Exchange of Information


Material Transfer Agreement (MTA)

A MTA is a type of confidentiality agreement that governs the transfer of research materials between two organizations.  The MTA does not transfer ownership - the materials are merely lent to the receiving scientist and the MTA sets forth the conditions of the loan by defining the rights of the provider and recipient with respect to the materials and any derivatives, as well as the purposes to which the material may be put.   Biological materials, such as reagents, cell lines, plasmids, and vectors, are the most frequently transferred materials, but MTAs may also be used for other types of materials, such as chemical compounds.

In- Incoming Material Transfer Agreement

Out- Outgoing Material Transfer Agreement

Exchange- Exchanging Material Transfer Agreement

Breeding Material Agreement

Plant Evaluation Agreement

Uniform Biological Agreement


Agreement for Transferring DATA (ATD)

An ATD is a type of confidentiality agreement that governs the transfer of research data between two organizations.  The ATD does not transfer ownership - the data is merely lent to the receiving scientist and the ATD sets forth the conditions of the loan by defining the rights of the provider and recipient with respect to the data and any derivatives, as well as the purposes to which the data may be put.

Agreement for Transferring DATA


Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA)

The CRADA is a joint research effort with at least one non-Federal partner that has some degree of research capacity and which commits funds and/or in-kind resources to a collaborative effort with an ARS scientist.  The CRADA project is generally intended to create or optimize a commercial product, and it usually contemplates creating, securing, and licensing intellectual property related to the research effort.  A CRADA partner may be an individual company, a group of companies, an association, a university, or any combination of the preceding.  It may also include another Federal agency, but only if there is an additional partner which is not a Federal agency.   The ARS actively seeks CRADAs with small and/or minority-owned businesses.  There is no requirement to "compete" for CRADAs - ARS is free to choose any CRADA partner that meets the technology transfer needs of one of its in-house research projects.



CRADAs benefit the ARS by:

••         Augmenting resources available to ARS scientists

••         Increasing the likelihood of licensing an ARS technology and thereby showing impact

••         Increasing impact and Agency reputation by becoming highly relevant to individual  stakeholders

••         Contributing to economic development through new product development and perhaps job-creation at companies using the program to help build their businesses


CRADAs benefit the partner by:  

••         Providing confidential access to ARS research capacity which can lead to competitive advantages

••         Providing access to ARS patent prosecution capacity

••         Providing a source of new, patent-protected commercial products

••         Providing the opportunity to negotiate for an exclusive patent license without giving notice in the Federal Register (and thereby inviting additional and perhaps competing license applications)

••         Providing access to the ARS network which often leads to additional business opportunities to include access to global markets 


Material Transfer Research Agreements (MTRA)

MTAs only allow the transfer of materials, but not engagement in joint research between the provider and the recipient of the materials.  This new agreement will serve as the authorization to conduct some joint research on the materials transferred.  Because this instrument would not convey rights to negotiate exclusive licenses to any intellectual property arising from the research, it is intended as an early stage opportunity for proof of concept that may lead to more extensive research that would be conducted under a CRADA. The MTRA was created by combining the MTA and the TFCA authorities.


Publications & Copyrights

Title 17 U.S.C. ?105 states that copyright protection is not available for any work of the United States Government.  This includes any authorship and/or editorial work performed by an employee of the United States Government as part of their official duties.  For Author and/or Contributors employed by the United States Government, the Work is considered a work related activity and as such is in the public domain.  Publisher shall not pay royalty income for work done by Federal Employees as part of their official duties.

Last Modified: 5/16/2017
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