Science doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Most researchers pursue their career because they not only love science but because they want to have an impact on the world – to help cure cancer, build a better dam, discover new planets, ease hunger. But those findings have to get from the lab to the market before they can become useful.
How can you cross that bridge? You need business savvy. And there are plenty of ways to get it – whether through a formal business degree, training or internship programmes or even your institution’s technology-transfer office. We’ve rounded up some options for you to consider.
If you’re a graduate student in the United States, you could be in luck. The US National Institutes of Health is funding BEST, a pilot internship programme for PhD students, at a handful of US universities. Among other partnerships, participants do stints in industry or in the university’s own tech-transfer office, where they learn how to write business plans and prepare an invention for market.
Whether you’ve already earned your degree or not, though, you can learn how to be an entrepreneur without going back to class for a masters in business administration (MBA). Many institutions offer more focused options, with programmes that teach enough finance, marketing and management for you to learn how to apply your strengths to the commercial world.
Sometimes, though, that MBA can be just the ticket, whether it’s to educate yourself in the how-tos of launching a business or commercializing your discovery, or to explore another career path. Some find that after they earn the degree – which can take only a year in some cases — working at the bench loses its lustre and they’ve fallen in love with the business world.
Of course, if you’re devoted to the idea of launching a start-up, you should give it a go. We explain the particulars here.
A scientist-turned-businessman explains step by step how to identify the potential commercial value of your discovery – and how to exploit it. As you might expect, you’ll need to do a lot of outreach – but it’s just another way of presenting your science to the right audience.