Open and collaborative scientific research is vital to the discovery and translation of new knowledge into products and services that benefit society. Many research institutions, funding bodies, policy makers and journals recognize the benefits of open research practices – from minimizing the duplication of efforts and improving research reproducibility to facilitating collaborations and combating scientific fraud. Although numerous options now exist for open access publishing and dissemination of scientific data, there is as yet no standard for open sharing and dissemination of research materials.
The Open Material Transfer Agreement (OpenMTA) is being developed as a collaborative effort led by the UK OpenPlant Synthetic Biology Research Centre and BioBricks Foundation to enable researchers to share materials on an open basis. Development of the OpenMTA began in 2015 by bringing together researchers, technology transfer professionals, lawyers, business leaders and other stakeholders to develop a simple, standardized legal tool for sharing biological materials as broadly as possible, while honoring the rights of others and promoting safe laboratory practice and responsible research. Importantly, the OpenMTA is designed to work within the practical realities of technology transfer and be sufficiently flexible to accommodate the needs of multiple groups globally.
Design goals for the OpenMTA include:
Access: Materials available under the OpenMTA are free of any royalty or fees, other than appropriate and nominal fees for preparation and distribution.
Attribution: Providers may request attribution and reporting for materials distributed under the OpenMTA.
Reuse: Materials available under the OpenMTA may be modified or used to create new substances.
Redistribution: The OpenMTA does not restrict any party from selling or giving away the materials, either as received or as part of a collection or derivative work.
Nondiscrimination: The OpenMTA supports the transfer of material between researchers at all types of institutions, including those at academic, industry, government and community laboratories.
As an option for materials transfer, the OpenMTA should help reduce transaction costs, support collaboration among researchers across institutional and international boundaries, promote access to materials for researchers in less privileged institutions and world regions, and provide an avenue for researchers and their institutions to be credited for materials made openly available.
The perspective of PraxisUnico’s membership is especially valuable for the development and broad adoption of the OpenMTA. A proposed draft of the OpenMTA Master Agreement is now available for a period of formal review and public comment. Please visit OpenMTA.org or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more and request a copy of the OpenMTA. Thank you!
UK OpenPlant Synthetic Biology Research Centre
Guest post from
Dr. Linda Kahl, Senior Counsel for the BioBricks Foundation, and
Dr. Jennifer Molloy, Coordinator for the UK OpenPlant and Synthetic Biology Strategic Initiative