OTC Fellows Program

Powering the Commercialization Engine for Duke Innovations

Highlights

The application period for the 2022-2023 OTC Fellows Program is open and accepting applications from August 23rd to September 23rd.

The OTC Fellows Program is an exciting opportunity for Duke graduate students and post-doctoral fellows to gain exposure to the process of commercialization of academic science!

The Fellows, on a part-time basis, will assess the commercial viability of innovative University technologies and design marketing materials to move this research from the bench to the outside world. This will enable OTC to provide faster and more thorough feedback to innovators while giving the Fellows a chance to expand their resume and build skills in market research and intellectual property protection.

Program Highlights:

  • Learn about the field of technology commercialization and intellectual property management, and gain first-hand experience in market opportunity, competitive landscape, and prior-art research
  • Gain valuable marketable skills that complement your scientific training for alternate careers in allied fields from technology commercialization to management consulting, patent law and business development
  • Expand your experience by staying on with OTC as a Senior Fellow after your Fellow year. If approved, you will have more opportunities to engage with OTC and build your professional network
  • Get compensated for your time! $16/hour with about 20 hours of work a month

Read this blog post to get a feel for the day-to-day work of an OTC Fellow.

A Zoom info session about the Program and OTC in general will be hosted 12-1pET on Tues 9/13/2022.

Eligibility & Expectations

  • Open only to Duke graduate students and postdocs¹
  • All Ph.D. students are welcome to apply, but preference given to those who have completed their qualifying exams (or prelim, as applicable)
  • Ability to commit up to 10hrs per week from October 2022 to October 2023
  • Visa-holders: Some restrictions apply²

¹ Masters students eligible, but it is recommended they complete their first year and obtain permission of their Advisor or DGS (Director of Graduate Studies). Ph.D. students and post-docs will need their advisor’s permission.

² F1, J1 students and F1 OPT post-docs are eligible. H1B and J1 post-docs- please contact Visa Services to see if you are eligible for a paid internship on campus.

  • Evaluate University technologies on criteria such as prior-art, market size, academic and competitive landscape, and potential licensing partners. Final submission will be a written report detailing the above
  • Write abstracts for marketable technologies that will be displayed on the OTC website for potential industrial collaborations
  • Attend 3-4 scheduled training seminars and group workshops per semester, preferably at the OTC office in person

Application Process

  • The application period for the 2022-2023 OTC Fellows cohort is August 23rd to September 23rd. Applications received outside that period will not be considered.
  • Submit a resume (no longer than 2 pages), along with a 1-page cover letter describing your interest and potential fit in the program, to Fedor Kossakovski (fdk@duke.edu) and Galo Mejia (galo.mejia@duke.edu). PDFs preferred
  • Selected candidates will be invited for an interview – in person highly preferred

**General inquiries can be directed to Fedor Kossakovski (fdk@duke.edu) and Galo Mejia (galo.mejia@duke.edu)

What do OTC Fellows do?

OTC Fellows are a team of up to 9 graduate students/post-docs from various areas of expertise, who will chiefly work remotely and have the following main responsibilities:

  1. Tech Assessment of Duke inventions (prior art, technical and competitive challenges, potential licensees). This will be delivered as a 5-8 page report with detailed sections on each area. Feedback will be provided by the Program Director, the Licensing Managers as well as the Duke inventor to revise the report as necessary. Freedom to operate searches as well as deal comparables may also be requested. Each assignment is triaged by the Director and assigned to the Fellow based on their background and area of graduate research
  2. Marketing Reports for Duke inventions (unmet need, tech description and advantages, potential licensees). These tech summaries are displayed on our website as a passive marketing strategy for our various inventions looking for a licensee. They are also sent to individual company contacts as part of marketing campaigns

OTC Senior Fellows are those who successfully completed a year in the OTC Fellows program and would like to stay on for more experience. They will have the following main responsibilities:

  1. Being available for partnering up with a Licensing Manager to sit in on inventor/company meetings, help with subsequent action items, and learn more about contracts and negotiations
  2. Providing preliminary edits to incoming OTC Fellows as they are trained to do Tech Assessments and Marketing Reports
  3. Assessing technologies that are too complex for incoming OTC Fellows

Tech Assessments and Marketing Reports take about 5-7 hours each to complete and are paid at $16/hr. Fellows usually complete around 25 total assessments and reports during their year; Senior Fellows – around 15.

Read this blog post to get a feel for the day-to-day work of an OTC Fellow.

Training Provided

In the first month, Fellows will be required to attend three in-person sessions:

  • 1 hour meet-and-greet, with introductions between the cohort and OTC
  • 5 hour training on how to read invention disclosure forms, use relevant databases, and research the market in order to complete Tech Assessments
  • 5 hour training on how to perform patent searches to examine prior art for inclusion in the Tech Assessments

Early in 2023, Fellows will be required to attend one additional in-person session:

  • 5 hour training on market analysis in order to complete Marketing Reports

One-on-one feedback and training sessions will be provided as needed, as determined by the Program Director.

Team Concept

Ideally, each new Invention Disclosure Form (IDF) submitted to our office by a Duke inventor will have an Invention Manager, an OTC Fellow, and a representative from the Duke Inventor’s lab all working to move the invention from disclosure.

Invention Managers:

Guide commercialization strategy, patent process and handle marketing and license negotiation at the appropriate time.

OTC Fellows:

Provide a written Tech Assessment on the prior art and competitive landscape as well as market opportunity. Sometimes, they will also create a Marketing Report for the invention in addition to or instead of a Tech Assessment.

OTC Senior Fellows:

Support new cohort of OTC Fellows with feedback on reports, assessing the harder technologies, and general mentorship as needed. Interface more directly with Licensing Managers and other OTC staff.

MEET THE CURRENT FELLOWS

Director of the OTC Fellows Program:

Leads training seminars, provides supervision of the written deliverables, coordinates with internal OTC ecosystem and triages technologies according to Fellow’s background, directs overall administration and running of the program.

Workflow

OTC technology workflow

Hear what our Fellows have to say!

“When I was interviewing for an industrial internship earlier this year, I found myself very confident in applying to non-technical positions demanding analytical skills and a technological background, because I had this on my resume. Every interviewer delved into my experience here at length.” — Aditya Kedia, M.S.

“It’s been so wonderful working with the Duke OTC and learning what translational science entails in terms of scientific requirements, intellectual property, funding, regulatory processes, and business ventures. Going from bench to bedside truly takes a whole scientific- and business-minded village!” — Senior Fellow Risa Gearhart, Ph.D.

“This program has been an excellent experience for me. In several regards, research is still a business, and success oftentimes requires a good ‘sales pitch.’  This program has taught me to view research from a perspective beyond just the science and to consider the commercial/business aspects.  I feel that this slight adjustment to my thinking will serve me well in whatever I decide to pursue.

[Moreover], research requires a constant focus on your own work that it becomes easy to ignore all of the other great advances happening around us.  The assignments of this program were intriguing, educational, and a great distraction from the daily grind of research.” — Adam Swartz, Ph.D.

“The [OTC Fellows] Program has provided me with hands-on experience in assessing early-stage technologies. During the Fellows program, I acquired knowledge in areas such as business development, regulatory affairs, and intellectual property. I also developed skills in assessing the commercial viability of known technologies, analyzing patent literature, and preparing marketing materials, all of which will be beneficial for my career path.” — Jingjing Wang, Ph.D.

“The [OTC Fellows] Program has offered me the unique opportunity to participate in the extensive commercialization process for academic research findings. As a fellow, I have analyzed a wide range of idea proposals ranging from novel therapeutics to software; this breadth has allowed me to gain hands-on experience with emerging technologies both in and well outside my comfort zone. Influencing the transition of an interesting research finding into a potentially marketable product has been very exciting – my work challenges me to take a limited amount of information on a new technology and use both my science background and information-gathering skills, as well as my imagination, to consider that technology’s future potential as a product. I am proud to say that my analyses have had a direct influence on the choice of licensing versus new venture creation for several distinct technologies.” — Joshua Wheaton, Ph.D.

“The program exposes you to how you can apply your scientific skill set away from the bench. It allows you to make a tangible contribution to the operations performed at Duke’s OTC, which will make you more marketable over graduate students with no experience away from the bench.

[In addition], the program also makes you self-aware of skills you may have never realized you had. Aside from working in technology transfer, I found that my skill set as a scientist is valuable in consulting, venture capital, and early-stage biotechnology companies. In addition, you acquire skills in patent search, market research, and commercialization.” — Glenn Watson, post-doctoral fellow

“The [OTC Fellows] Program has been one of the most unique training opportunities I have experienced in graduate school. This fellowship has provided invaluable professional development opportunities as well as the ability to make a difference in advancing real-world technologies to the patenting and licensing stages. For those who are interested in this career area, it is the perfect introduction into the complex intersection of science and business at Duke.” — Michael Hoy, Ph.D.