How Technology Transfer jobs put your science to work

Technology transfer is the conduit that helps transform public-sector science research into commercial applications, and it can transform a scientific career as well. What does it take to find a job in technology transfer?

Many universities and public-sector research institutes have technology transfer (TT) offices. TT workers constantly observe the research being carried out, looking out for new discoveries that might have value outside the laboratory. They evaluate these technologies for commercial potential, and when an opportunity is found, they work with intellectual property experts to protect it, then seek out commercial partners who might license it. In some cases, the TT office will work to create a new company to commercialize a discovery.  On the “other side” of the equation, many Big Pharma and biotech companies have their own tech transfer teams to bring new technologies into the firm.

Jobs in technology transfer can be very rewarding for those who have spent a long time training in science because it is a career that lets you remain close to cutting-edge research and the thrill of new scientific discoveries.

A typical job description for an entry-level position in technology transfer as a life sciences licensing associate would be similar to the following:

Life Sciences Licensing Associate

Responsible for negotiating material transfer agreements (MTAs) and non-disclosure agreements (NDAs)  handled by the Technology Transfer office, including recording receipt of the document, pursuing the completion of agreements by communicating and negotiating with the other party in coordination with the case manager, obtaining signatures on final agreements and distributing completed agreement to all parties involved. Negotiation of these agreements is a highly technical scientific and legal task, and requires an advanced understanding of the university’s technology transfer policies.

Additionally, in concert with more senior licensing officers, you will be responsible for identifying and evaluating invention disclosures by faculty, staff, and students; obtaining appropriate intellectual property protections for inventions; marketing University-developed technologies to industry; participating in programs to educate researchers about technology transfer, and helping to develop a culture of entrepreneurship at the University.


2-3 years of experience in a biomedical research environment in an institutional or university setting.  Experience working with or processing MTAs and NDAs is preferred.

A Bachelor’s degree in a life science field is required. Post-graduate work in a life science-based field, or a graduate business program (e.g., M.B.A) is strongly preferred.

A technology transfer position at this level would pay $45K or more to start.

If you are currently a student, you’re in a great position to learn more about these roles and make connections that may help you get a job when you graduate. By networking through your professors, you can probably wrangle an introduction to the Technology Transfer office at your university. Take advantage of the introduction to ask for an informational interview and ask for advice on preparing yourself for a career in this field. Many of these offices run programs which are meant to educate researchers about intellectual property and the role of the technology transfer group. Keep your eyes peeled and make a point of attending these information sessions, saying ‘hello’ and asking good questions.  Consider taking a business class or finding another way of developing some knowledge about business development, contracts and commercialization.  Many schools have student clubs that can provide you with this exposure. You might also consider joining the AUTM, an association for technology transfer professionals which offers a discounted student membership. Their website also offers a selection of freely-available resources that will help you learn about the field.

You can learn more about careers in technology transfer through the links below.

Posted: February 6th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Business Development, Intellectual Property, Marketing, Technology Transfer | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

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