During my fellowship with the Commercialization Academy, I assisted the Corporate Partnerships team by supporting and attending meetings and industry site visits. As a Senior Fellow, I helped manage the broader responsibilities of the Corporate Partnership interns. Overall, the Corporate Partnerships team helps to source, structure, execute and manage private research funding on behalf of our faculty. Partnerships involve forming the right questions, building social networks, and creating value in the marketplace. Although the metrics for the team are evaluated by numbers, mainly dollars in; these partnerships are fueled and driven by relationships. Partnerships always start with people. Throughout my internship experience, I was able to see firsthand how partnerships are attained (or not attained and why), managed, and potentially expanded through alliances or venture creation.
The Commercialization Academy was a unique opportunity to formalize my interests in translating technologies developed in the academic setting into marketed products and services. Being a part of a fast-paced Corporate Partnership group allowed me to gain mastery of intelligence tools, data analysis tools, data visualization resources, and how to support a variety of technologies and corporate interests. I was able to integrate other organizations and programs that I was a part of throughout the experience as well. In 2019, I participated in the Scientist Mentoring and Diversity Program (SMDP) MedTech, a national one-year career mentorship program geared towards undergraduate and graduate students with an interest in working in the medical technology industry. Through this mentorship program, I was able to attend the 2019 Advamed MedTech conference. I also attended conferences frequented by Business Development staff, such as the AUTM Regional conference and BIO, as many of these conferences offer free registration for students. At these various conferences, I had the opportunity to accompany my supervisor at several partner meetings. These experiences were wholly gratifying because I had been researching the same partners when developing industry intelligence reports.
One major takeaway from my experience is that deliberate preparation can pave the way to a successful university-industry partnership. In one instance, the partnering meeting at a conference was the first major step that would eventually result in securing a sponsored research project involving a top medical device company and a university faculty member. Being a part of a project from its infancy to the attainment of an industry-academic partnership, and countless other interactions that had different trajectories, helped me understand the realistic path and value of sponsored research agreements. In addition to supporting partnerships, interns can delve deeper into topics related to business and commercialization through reading books, attending seminars and career talks. The Commercialization Academy experience is tailored to an intern’s interest and background.
At the close of my internship, it was important to consider the need for transfer of knowledge and to ensure maintenance of the key best practices from the experiential learning experience. Corporate Partnerships director, Seth Zonies and I developed standards for business intelligence within the group and created a training curriculum to institutionalize the knowledge and experiences over the past three years. I think about the phrase “lift as you climb” often. A colleague of mine recommended the Commercialization Academy intern position to me three years ago as a position was opening on the team, and I have successfully recruited excellent candidates throughout my time in the academy. The experience was both a satisfying and fulfilling opportunity to support innovative technologies. I will inevitably use the skillset learned throughout my career and continue to value mentorship and teamwork.