Tech Transfer Fellows Program

Powering the Commercialization Engine for Duke Innovations


Applications for the 2020-2021 Fellows Program are now closed. However, if you are a qualified candidate in the ECE department or otherwise have experience with digital innovations and would be available to start now and continue through the 2021-2022 calendar year, please reach out to us.

The 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 transfer 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 transfer to management consulting, patent law and business development
  • Get compensated for your time!

Training Provided

  • The Fellows are provided training videos immediately after hire, and prior to attending their first in-person orientation session as detailed below
  • The Fellows undergo an initial 3.5hr orientation session to introduce them to the field of technology transfer. They are provided a comprehensive review of patents and patentability by our in-house lawyer, and of market research and relevant databases by the Director of the program. The various sections of the Fellows report due at the end of each assignment will be examined and the expectations from each section will be laid out.
  • After the first 2 months in the program, there will be shorter individual seminars on prior art search and market analysis wherein example cases will be provided. Recurring questions from prior assignments will also be addressed at this point.
  • One-on-one feedback and training sessions will be provided as and when 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, a Tech Transfer Fellow and a representative from the Duke Inventor’s lab, all working together.

Invention Manager:

Guides commercialization strategy, patent process and handles marketing and license negotiation at the appropriate time.

Tech transfer Fellows:

Duke Masters and Ph.D. students, as well as postdoctoral fellows who will provide a written report on the prior-art and competitive landscape as well as market opportunity. They will also provide marketing summaries of the invention.

Current TT Fellows

Director of the Tech Transfer Fellows Program:

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


Tech Transfer Fellows Workflow

What do Tech Transfer Fellows do?

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

  1. Assessment of technologies/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 Invention Managers as well as the Duke inventor to revise the report as necessary. Freedom to operate searches as well deal comparables may also be requested. Each assignment is triaged by the Director and assigned to the Fellow based on his or her background and area of graduate research.
  2. Marketing summaries for the website. These 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 for a specific invention

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
  • Visa-holders: Some restrictions apply²

¹Masters 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.

²F1, 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 at the OTC office

Application Process

  • Please check our website for updates about the 2021-2022 application cycle.
  • Submit a resume (2 pages only), along with a 1 page cover letter describing your interest and potential fit in the program, to
  • Selected candidates will be invited for an in-person interview.

**General inquiries can be directed to Fedor Kossakovski, at

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 candidate, Mechanical Engineering.

“This program has provided me with the opportunity to undertake an internship in a potential career path while providing the flexibility necessary to maintain the commitment to my dissertation research. The skills and experience gained as an OTC fellow are clearly well-suited to careers in business development, patent law, management consulting or financial positions such as a securities research analyst in a high-tech area. — Joshua Wheaton, Ph.D. candidate, Immunology.

“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. candidate.

“I am extremely glad that this opportunity exists at Duke. I was having a conversation with an alumnus of my program who works as a patent engineer, and she told me how hard it was for her to get this job since people usually can’t show internship experience in the IP industry on their resume. This program helps me do exactly that, and I am glad I can do it while I am still working towards finishing my degree!” — Aditya Kedia, M.S candidate.

“The [Tech Transfer 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. candidate.

“The OTC [Tech Transfer] 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. candidate.

“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.