So You Want to Work in a University Innovation Office?

This post originally appeared on LinkedIn Pulse.


A lot of young people want to work for startups. It’s exciting to be on the ground floor of something new and still defining itself. But if they thought about it, they might realize it’s also pretty shaky ground. One industry that has the stability but also the excitement of discovering something new is tech transfer. You can be on the same ground floor of bringing exciting projects to market but without wondering if you’ll have a job tomorrow if you work at a university innovation office.

But how do you get started in tech transfer and what makes you appealing to an innovation office? In this two-part post, we’ll take a look at what you need to make that transition, beginning with the necessary background and skills to be considered seriously. Part two will go over how to make the transition and get noticed.


Tips to Get Your Foot in the Door at a University Innovation Office

There are a few things you’d ideally have in your background before you started looking for work at the university level.

Required Educational Background

Ideally, you’d have a background in physical or life sciences because you will be dealing with bringing university research, products, and services to market and you need to know what those researchers are talking about.

If you don’t have that, a history with start-ups is very helpful especially when it comes to a proven record in marketing their products or services or selling them to larger companies. You could also come from research and development at a corporate level in a role that may have worked with universities in tech transfer.

Impeccable Communications Skills

You’re going to be communicating with all types of people from scientists to venture capitalists. You need to be able to speak their language and communicate the university’s needs in writing.

Ability to Deal with Stress

Negotiating complex intellectual property agreements and ensuring the university, researcher, and company all feel well represented can feel very stressful. You must understand what each group needs and deliver it so that they feel satisfied but don’t feel like they’re losing anything to the other party.

Go with the Flow

While university innovation departments are a lot more stable than start-ups that doesn’t always mean the departments are well defined. Many organizations are just starting to build out their innovation centers. If you select this industry, you need to be ready to lead.

Those are the main cross-over skills you need to bring to the table. There is specific patent and tech transfer know-how that you’ll be missing if you’re coming from another industry. In part two we’ll cover how to make the jump to the university innovation office and actually secure the job.

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