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Electronic MTA System

Founded in 2004, Addgene is a global non-profit organization that facilitates scientific sharing by operating a plasmid repository. In addition to managing the exchange of the physical materials, Addgene also ensures that the appropriate material transfer agreements (MTAs) are signed for each transfer. Since its inception, Addgene has shipped nearly 250,000 plasmids to over 70 countries. This success is based on our electronic Material Transfer Agreement (eMTA) system, which dramatically streamlines and shortens typical MTA approval and negotiation cycles.

MTAs protect the intellectual property rights of the scientists and their host institutions. Prior to Addgene, almost all MTAs were executed on paper. The negotiation process could take weeks, if not months to complete, thereby delaying the transfer of materials.

Addgene has designed and implemented an innovative eMTA system that makes processing MTAs much easier and adheres to the general practices of institutional Technology Transfer Offices (TTOs). Addgene does not assume ownership of the plasmids deposited into its repository. Instead, Addgene serves to archive, replicate and distribute the plasmid samples on behalf of depositing institutions.

How does Addgene's eMTA system work?

When a scientist deposits a plasmid with Addgene, Addgene executes a Deposit and Distribution Agreement with the scientist’s institution that allows Addgene to archive and subsequently distribute the plasmids. The agreement requires Addgene to distribute the plasmids using a standard MTA, called the Uniform Biological Material Transfer Agreement (UBMTA). This structure significantly reduces the amount of effort and paperwork for the provider’s TTO, while still supplying them with a record of all transfers and protection under the UBMTA.

When a scientist requests a plasmid from Addgene, Addgene requires confirmation that the scientist understands and agrees to the terms of the UBMTA. Addgene’s eMTA system automatically emails an implementing letter and an attachment of the UBMTA to the recipient institution’s TTO. An authorized representative from the TTO can access and read the secure document, and sign the document either electronically or on paper. The ability to sign electronically has greatly expedited the approval process. Currently, about 85% of recipient institutions’ TTOs use electronic signatures for approval.

Addgene’s eMTA approval process was designed to promote efficient transfer of plasmids between laboratories while protecting the rights of all parties. Addgene has successfully facilitated the transfer of nearly 250,000 plasmids, and MTA approval times with the eMTA system have been excellent:

  • Average approval time for plasmid deposits is less than 14 days. This is a one-time approval, and thus does not delay shipments when scientists request plasmids.
  • Average MTA approval time for plasmid requests is less than 36 hours. Addgene ships the samples in 2-3 business days following MTA approval.

Additionally, Addgene’s eMTA system was nominated in September as a finalist for “Best Use of Technology” Award by MassTLC. To learn more about Addgene’s eMTA system, click here.