Tech-transfer jobs in the nonprofit research world

3/4/2019 12:17:56 PM

Many research universities, nonprofit research institutes and government research labs have established technology-transfer offices that facilitate the licensing and commercialization of technologies and intellectual property to the private sector for further product development and to benefit society-at-large. Staff members in these offices help researchers apply for invention disclosures and patents, evaluate technologies and IP for the potential to be licensed, conduct market research, build relationships with both researchers and industry partners, and negotiate licensing and other collaborative agreements. Overall, tech-transfer staff champion for the protections of researchers’ inventions, identify innovative applications for technologies that meet potential market needs, and generate additional revenue streams for institutions in the process.

This week, we highlight tech-transfer jobs in the nonprofit research world, plus some training opportunities and related resources to learn more about this career path. Also, know there are tech-transfer counterparts within the business-development units in industry. A future blog post will look more into industry positions and the broader definition of tech transfer in this context.  

Tech-transfer resources  

  • Learn more about the invention disclosure/patent and licensing processes. The United States Patent and Trademark Office website contains relevant information on patent basics, the process and related policies, as well as a patent database. This ASBMB Today Q&A on how to patent an antibody also features some good resources on how to learn about the process. Additionally, take the time to research and understand the different types of agreements associated with tech-transfer requirements, including cooperative research and development agreements, material transfer agreements, and nondisclosure agreements. For example, ask your PI if you can review any such documents that exist for your lab and offer to help with preparing future documents.  
  • Read more about what qualifications and transferable skills are required. The University of California–San Francisco’s Office of Career and Professional Development maintains a webpage with a useful collection of resources on technology-transfer and intellectual-property careers that includes sample job postings and tips on how to gain experience in the field. Plus, as this blog post on the Cheeky Scientist website points out, tech transfer requires both legal and business acumen, in addition to technical science know-how. If you are dedicated to a career in this field, you also may want to consider pursuing an M.B.A or J.D.  
  • Stay updated on the latest news in the tech-transfer field. Tech Transfer Central is a provider of news, information and resources related to tech transfer and research commercialization. You can sign up for a free subscription to Tech Transfer e-News on the website. Also, recent articles in the ASBMB Today on patenting antibodies and chemoenzymatically producing O-negative blood demonstrate the challenges of transferring new technologies to market.  
  • Do an internship in a technology-transfer office to gain practical experience. There are many offices that now offer these opportunities to scientists. You can start by reaching out to your institution’s TTO to see what options may be available. A few sample internship and fellowship programs are listed below in the weekly jobs roundup.  

Weekly jobs roundup  

  • Ximbio, a global nonprofit that serves as a technology-transfer service for life-sciences reagents, is seeking postdocs and graduate students to serve as Ximbassadors. This is a paid internship located at the ambassador’s home institution to search out new reagents and materials of interest to the scientific community. No application deadline is provided. (Note: We also ran across a job advertisement with Ximbio for a business development manager to be located in Boston. It is unclear if this position is still open, but it may be worthwhile to further check on this opportunity.)  
  • The NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases offers a technology transfer fellowship program for scientists with advanced degrees (or a law degree or M.B.A.) to get training and prepare for a career in the tech-transfer field. Fellowships can be requested for one year and renewed up to a total of three years. See the website for details on how to apply. No application deadline is provided.  
  • The Office of Technology Management at Washington University in St. Louis is accepting applications for a technology transfer trainee. Minimum qualifications include an advanced degree in the life-science, biomedical/medical or engineering areas or equivalent work/education combined experience. No application deadline is provided.  
  • Several universities were found to have technology-transfer and licensing coordinator positions open within their respective tech-transfer offices. These coordinators primarily are responsible for patent/IP paperwork and other administrative functions. Such positions may be a good way for bachelor’s degree holders to explore this career path further before deciding on pursuing advanced degrees. The positions found include a technology transfer coordinator at the University of Miami Medical Campus, technology licensing coordinator at Georgia Tech and program coordinator at George Washington University. See the job postings for more details on qualifications. No application deadlines are provided.  
  • Johns Hopkins University is hiring a technology transfer associate for the School of Medicine on the East Baltimore campus. Minimum qualifications include an advanced degree in science, business or law and one year of licensing or technology-transfer experience. No application deadline is provided.  
  • The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (Dallas) is searching for a licensing associate in technology development. Minimum qualifications include a bachelor’s degree in biology or business and five years of experience in university technology transfer, grant/contract administration, university research administration, business administration or a related field. No application deadline is provided.  
  • Florida State University has an opening for a licensing manager in its Office of Commercialization. Minimum qualifications include a master’s degree in a STEM field and one year of experience in technology analysis, business development, project coordination, contracts and negotiations or research administration. No application deadline is provided.  
  • The Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine, Inc. (Bethesda, Md.) is seeking a technology transfer senior associate for its legal department at HJF the headquarters and Uniformed Services University. Minimum qualifications include a master’s degree in the biomedical sciences and three to five years of relevant work experience. No application deadline is provided.

Donna Kridelbaugh is a contributor to the ASBMB Careers Blog. She holds an advanced degree in microbiology and is a former lab manager.   

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