In Case You Missed It—Careers in Technology Transfer

In Case You Missed It – don’t miss the key insights from events relevant to your training experience and professional development, even if you couldn’t make it on the day.

Written by Ruturaj Masvekar, Ph.D., NIAID Visiting Fellow

Technology transfer (tech transfer) is a term used to describe the process of transferring scientific findings from one organization to another to boost the commercialization of new discoveries and innovations. Tech transfer is a non-conventional career field for bench scientists, such as pre- and postdoctoral fellows. As I am in the fourth year of my postdoctoral fellowship, I started researching my future career options and I came to know the field of tech transfer. I started reading about this field so I could understand exactly how this field works and whether it is a good match to my interests.

On March 19, 2019, I attended an event organized by the NIH FelCom, titled “Careers in Technology Transfer.” It was a panel discussion by four professionals from the field of tech transfer: Lei Sun, Abritee Dhal, Madhabi Majumdar, and Matthew Miessau. The panelists had different backgrounds and are at varying levels in their careers. The panel discussion started with brief talks by all panelists where they explained exactly what tech transfer professionals do. Also, they shared their personal experiences of how they moved their careers from bench research to the field of tech transfer. Largely, tech transfer professionals’ work is dependent on the type of office they are in. Briefly, their work includes reviewing and preparing new material transfer agreements (MTAs) and collaboration/partnership agreements, interacting with inventors or faculty members to understand the commercial potential of scientific findings, reviewing patent actions and interacting with patent attorneys, etc.

Skills Needed To Succeed in a Tech Transfer Career

  • Strong communication skills to promote new technologies or inventions
  • Relationship building to establish industry-academia partnerships
  • Ability to assess commercial potential of scientific discoveries
  • Legal and regulatory knowledge to help inventors in establishing licenses or patents
  • An entrepreneurial mindset to form partnerships and commercialize inventions

After the panelists’ talk, the floor was open for audience questions. As most of the audience was composed of bench scientists and willing to initiate careers in the field of tech transfer, most of the questions were about what skills and techniques are required to move to this career.

Overall it was a very helpful event for me to understand more about the field of tech transfer. I would like to share few of the resources available at NIH suggested by the panelists, which would be helpful to learn more about the field and how to initiate a career in the field:

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