With sources of research funding becoming increasingly scarce and pressure mounting for universities to drive economic growth, more and more scientists are exchanging their lab coats for business suits as they work to turn their most innovative discoveries into products that improve lives and create jobs.
But, with few exceptions, scientists are not taught the skills necessary to negotiate the complicated world of technology commercialization, leaving them ill-equipped to make the business deals and marketing plans that serve as the foundation of successful companies, products and services.
Now, graduate students and postdoctoral scholars at UGA have an opportunity to avoid these pitfalls by taking a new class co-taught by two UGA business experts who hope to better prepare the next generation of researchers for the new demands of life as a business savvy research scientist.
“The goal is for our students to have a clearer understanding of what the opportunities and resources are for technology commercialization in a university setting,” said Stefan Schulze, co-instructor and associate director of the Georgia BioBusiness Center.
Throughout the semester, students familiarize themselves with current events in the technology and innovation business sector, and the instructors help them use that knowledge to identify needs and opportunities in the marketplace as well as potential risks or threats posed by potential competitors.
Guest lecturers help the students understand how to protect their intellectual property, create a business model and find entrepreneurial support, and how to present their research to established companies.
“We want them to be able to develop a commercialization plan,” said co-instructor Cem Oruc, director of commercialization assistance at the Georgia Small Business Development Center. “So by the time they walk out of the class, they know how to evaluate a technology for business opportunities.”