Getting into Technology Transfer

Welcome to the newly redesigned Science Careers Forum. Please bookmark this site now for future reference. If you've previously posted to the forum, your current username and password will remain the same in the new system. If you've never posted or are new to the forum, you will need to create a new account.

The new forum is designed with some features to improve the user experience. Upgrades include:
- easy-to-read, threaded discussions
- ability to follow discussions and receive notifications of updates
- private messaging to other SC Forum members
- fully searchable database of posts
- ability to quote in your response
- basic HTML formatting available

Moderator: Dave Jensen
Advisors:   Ana, PG, Rich Lemert, Dick Woodward, Dave Walker
Meet the Moderator/Advisors

Getting into Technology Transfer

Postby Tad » Mon Jul 18, 2005 8:27 am

I've always found the field of Technology Transfer fascinating, and was wondering how to get into this field. I am currently a MS level industry scientist. Would it be better to get a Ph.D., or an MBA? Is there a high demand in this field? Is there a lot of research experience required?

Posts: 39
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:28 pm

Getting into Technology Transfer

Postby Val » Mon Jul 18, 2005 10:02 am

I tried to get into technology transfer in Australia, and I came to the conclusion that this is the kind of job which you do not get but which you fall into. It occurs to me that one more certificate besides your BS degree is not relevant. The usual advise is to start from a little project at your current position, and see if you could branch out into the desired direction.


User avatar
Posts: 535
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:28 pm

Getting into Technology Transfer

Postby Chris Buntel » Mon Jul 18, 2005 12:44 pm


Tech transfer is an interesting mix of business, science, and law. People enter the field from all three directions.

A PhD vs. a MS will not make a difference in performing the role, but the higher degree makes you more marketable. Unless you really want an MBA, I would try to get into the field directly and get the degree at night (if you need it).

Industry tech transfer involves both in-licensing and out-licensing. University tech transfer is very heavily out-licensing. As a first step, talk to the tech transfer place at your current location (I'm not sure if you are in industry or academia). Start networking!

AUTM is a great professional organization of tech transfer people. They have a great yearly meeting, multiple regional meetings, and good educational programs.

Chris Buntel.
Chris Buntel
Posts: 114
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:28 pm

Getting into Technology Transfer

Postby A. Diwa » Mon Jul 18, 2005 8:18 pm

You absolutely need an MBA.

I did an internship in the University tech transfer office while I was doing a postdoc. My project involved writing a business plan. While I could assess the scientific merits, I did not have a good foundation on the business side. It wasn't until business school did I realize how badly I was handicapped.

Business is not rocket science but unless you know the terms and principles (e.g. time value of money, appropriate discount rate, return on investment) it is difficult to communicate with potential partners.

So I'd strongly recommend an MBA over a Ph.D. for licensing but before going that route, do a stint in the tech transfer office to see if it that kind of work excites you.

Hope that helps.

A. Diwa
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:29 pm

Getting into Technology Transfer

Postby Dave Jensen » Mon Jul 18, 2005 8:46 pm

Most searches conducted for clients in the area of licensing and tech transfer are for PhD's, or for PhD/MBA's, but that's because they are generally the senior staff. I'd say it would be a 50/50 chance of hitting a glass ceiling if you didn't have the PhD. BUT we've had people on here who say they are doing fine with a MS.

“There is no such thing as work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life.”- Alain de Botton
User avatar
Dave Jensen
Site Moderator
Posts: 7959
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:28 pm

Getting into Technology Transfer

Postby Brian » Tue Jul 19, 2005 4:43 pm

I have to disagree with Alex about the essentiality of having an MBA in order to pursue a Tech Transfer career. I am doing a postdoc in a large (non-industry) Tech Transfer office right now and I believe that not one of the 50+ people in my office has an MBA. Most (75+%) have PhDs, about 20% have JDs and about 10% have both. Additionally, relatively few of my counterparts in industry that I have interacted with seem to have MBAs.

That's not to say that an MBA wouldn't be useful, because it would be. But, there are certainly opportunities in Technology Transfer if you do not have one.


Getting into Technology Transfer

Postby Lilley » Sun Aug 28, 2005 4:37 pm

Hmmm...sounds very hit and miss.

Are there any suggestions on good places to start getting your feet wet?

Speaking as someone who's been reorg'ed from industry, and if it would be helpful to get either a JD or an MBA, wouldn't it be more prudent to go through the application process this fall so that when next fall comes around, you can always decline?

Would a JD or MBA be more flexible in terms of options? Thanks.
Posts: 11
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:28 pm

Getting into Technology Transfer

Postby Don Haut » Sun Aug 28, 2005 5:41 pm

Just my opinion, but I think w/o a technical background you will not be as able to really understand the technology that will be the subject of the licensing agreements. Also, you will have a more difficult time gaining the full trust and respect of the scientists.

The MBA concepts are not at all difficult. I have seen more people who are scientists who have successfully picked up business than the other way around.

Don Haut
Posts: 22
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:28 pm

Getting into Technology Transfer

Postby Lilley » Mon Aug 29, 2005 11:29 am

Perhaps I need to let people know a bit of my background. I have a Ph.D. and have finally made a transition to industry. I've worked mostly at the bench, and the progression to project management seems really slow, and I want more daily exposure to advances in science. That's why I looked at TT as a possible alternative.

With that background info, if I may ask again, would a master's in business or law be better for tech transfer? Thanks.
Posts: 11
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:28 pm

Getting into Technology Transfer

Postby James » Mon Aug 29, 2005 1:06 pm

Hi John,

I spent three years in the TT office of a very prestigious institution and was ultimately recruited by Big Pharma to work in their licensing department. I have an MS/MBA and started a JD while working at the TT office. I can honestly say that I loved that job.

However, it was not easy to obtain. I spent 4 years preparing for the position. This included transferring from the bench to project management in a biotech company. After that I went to the USPTO and worked as a patent examiner for 2 years and concurrently attended various TT training courses. It was at one of those courses where I made contact with the Director of the institute that ultimately hired me. He also was an MS/MBA.

I do not think any one background or degree prepares you for TT. There were several Ph.D.s, JDs and MBAs in my office. They came from industry, law firms, academic labs and even other TT offices. I do think everyone had some sort of advanced degree, though. However, the Ph.D. was by no means a 'rite of passage.' It is kind of a renaissance position. You will need excellent people and communication skills. After all, everyone you encounter is a client.

Good Luck!!



Return to Science Careers Forum

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 14 guests