Technology Transfer

PhD Career Insights | Technology Transfer Officer

Technology transfer officers help translate new innovations coming from the lab into products that will improve people’s lives. They manage the intellectual property of the research and partner with outside companies to bring these new ideas to market.

Interested in Tech Transfer? Check out our overview of this career for more information on this career and the skills you will need to succeed.

What would I do?
  • Build relationships with university scientists and understand the research going on at the institution
  • Help researchers understand the potential commercial applications of their research and describe their value to external partners
  • Help researchers make their research more commercially attractive
  • Evaluate invention disclosures for patentability and commercial potential
  • Build relationships with commercial partners
  • Identify and facilitate funding for further research on promising inventions
  • Market emerging technologies
  • Work with patent lawyers to file patent applications on behalf of the university and manage patent prosecution
  • Draft and negotiate licenses, collaboration agreements, inter-institutional agreements, and other contracts related to the commercial development of intellectual property with both commercial partners and collaborating institutions
  • Help establish start-ups and spin-offs
  • Manage existing licenses and monitor/maintain license compliance
What is the salary range?
  • ~$55-65K for licensing assistant
  • ~$75-110K for licensing associate
  • ~$95-160K for assistant/associate director
  • ~$120-$200K+ for director/executive director
How can I gain skills and experience for a career in Technology Transfer?

From an associate director of technology commercialization: "Internships, internships, and more internships... I can’t stress this enough for folks that want to go straight from an academic lab to tech transfer. We generally won’t even look at anyone fresh out of grad school or a postdoc who doesn’t at least have internship experience even if they have done everything else on your list. I also recommend the NIH tech transfer fellowship program."

  • Watch a free webinar from AUTM
  • Do informational interviews at Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures
  • Attend events sponsored by JHTV
  • See if you can patent or license your research
  • Talk to peers and mentors who have gone through the licensing process
  • Become a student member of the Association of University Technology Managers
  • Take classes at Carey Business School
  • Take courses from the Licensing Executive Society
  • Read the monthly Technology Transfer Tactics newsletter
  • Consider joining an NSF I-Corps team
  • Take Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer (475.612) from JHU AAP
  • Take Commercializing your invention or idea (663.654) from the Whiting School of Engineering
Where can I find out more about Tech Transfer careers?
  • PhD Career Guide: Technology Transfer
  • A Typical Day at the University of Waterloo Technology Transfer and Licensing Office - Science
  • Innovation: The Big Idea of Technology Transfer - Nature
  • Technology Transfer: Applying the PhD Away from the Bench
  • Career Options Series: Technology Transfer
  • Transferring Skills to Tech Transfer – Science
Where could I work?
  • Universities
  • Research Centers
  • Federal Laboratories
  • Stand-alone technology transfer firms
  • Trade Organizations
  • State Commerce and Commercialization Departments
What skills should I have?
  • Flexibility
  • Business experience
  • Ability to multitask and manage a large workload
  • Strong negotiation skills
  • Strong communication skills with scientists and non-scientists and the ability to manage conflict
  • Ability to sell an idea
  • Ability to quickly learn about science outside your area of expertise
  • Demonstrated interest in the field of technology commercialization, intellectual property, licensing or entrepreneurship
  • Willingness to coordinate the efforts of many different people
  • Understanding of intellectual property and contract law
Sample Job Titles
  • Licensing and Patenting Associate
  • Licensing and Patenting Manager
  • Technology Transfer Specialist
  • Technology Transfer Policy Specialist
  • Royalties Assistant
  • Royalties Coordinator
  • Marketing Coordinator
  • Monitoring and Enforcement Officer
  • Senior Licensing and Patenting Manager
  • Senior Advisor for Licensing
  • Senior Advisor for Intellectual Property Transactions
  • Senior Technology Transfer Policy
  • Advisor; Senior Royalties Administrator
  • Senior Monitoring and Enforcement Officer
  • Senior Expert Monitoring and Enforcement
  • Senior Advisor for Monitoring and Enforcement
Tech Transfer Fellowships, Organizations, and Groups

NIH Technology Transfer Fellowship National Cancer Institute Technology Transfer Center Fellowship
Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures: The Commercialization Academy Internship (US Citizens only)

Professional Organizations
Association of University Technology Managers
Alliance for Technology Transfer Professionals
Licensing Executives Society International

LinkedIn Groups
Technology Transfer - Valorisation
Technology Transfer, Intellectual Property, Monetizing IP, Commercialization & Patent Office
Innovation and Entrepreneurship Network, Science & Technology Policy and Management