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Business Development Fellowship Program
Hands-On Experience In Developing Business Skills

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The year-long Business Development Fellowship program provides UC Davis science and engineering graduate and postdoctoral students hands-on experience in developing business skills for a career in industry or to develop new business ventures.

Through a combination of four Graduate School of Management courses, networking events and field visits to regional startups, students gain a first-hand look at the entrepreneurial experience and opportunities available in industry.

The program teams MBA students with engineers and scientists to develop the commercial potential of cutting-edge research. The dynamic, interactive environment blends effective theory with hands-on participation and solution-driven innovation.

I am where I am today because of the amazing, life-changing experience as a Business Development Fellow.

—Riccardo LoCascio, Kauffman Postdoctoral Fellow, Business Development Fellow 2006

How to Apply

We are no longer accepting applications for our 2015/16 program.

The Business Development Fellows program is open only to UC Davis graduate students and postdoctoral researchers.

Applications are accepted beginning in spring with a mid-summer deadline. The application includes completion of an online application form and asking your advisor to submit a letter of support by email to Niki Peterson, program manger. 

Eligible applicants will be invited to group interviews in August. There is no cost for the program if accepted as a BD Fellow.

Selection Criteria
  • Due to the heavy workload of the BD Fellows program, eligible applicants must have completed their coursework for their Master’s or Doctoral degree.
  • Fellows must have the support of their advisor(s) to participate.
  • Priority selection goes to applicants with a career goal to work in industry, start-up or who plan to commercialize their research.


The Business Development Fellowship program is intended for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers in science and engineering. The year-long program provides an introduction to, and hands-on experience in, developing new business ventures designed to commercialize research.

Fellows take five courses at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management, learning alongside MBA students and under the guidance of the school’s faculty, investors and entrepreneurs to acquire knowledge, skills and abilities in the following areas:

  • Dynamics of innovation and entrepreneurship
  • Innovation strategies and work practices
  • Interdisciplinary teamwork
  • Evaluating technology/market opportunities
  • Product, process and new venture design
  • IP patenting and licensing strategies
  • Writing and communicating business plans
  • Building and managing interdisciplinary teams
  • Modeling finance and investment strategies
  • Rapid prototyping and testing strategies
Course Descriptions

Business Development Clinic: Students learn to work closely in small, interdisciplinary teams to synthesize technical, strategic and marketing needs and resources into designs for new ventures. Topics include market research, financial modeling, prototyping and resource acquisition. Teams develop business models for a wide range of emerging technology and market opportunities.

Management of Innovation: Describes the processes of creativity and innovation and provides students with the means to craft interdependent innovation strategies, work practices and cultures for managing innovation in organizations.

New and Small Business Ventures: Emphasizes starting a new business venture or managing a small business during its formative stages.

Technology Competition and Strategy: Business strategies for firms that make technology products, those that feature digital components and network effects.

Fifth course TBA.


Q: Who can participate in the Fellows program?

The Business Development Fellows program is open only to UC Davis graduate students and postdocs. We generally accept doctoral students, post-coursework. Master’s students are admitted conditionally, based on their coursework load. The program is open to science and engineering graduate students and postdocs.

Q. How do you select participants?

Acceptance is based on your application, letter of support from your advisor and your interview. We are looking for candidates who are motivated to learn outside their lab and develop new skills and method of thinking about their research.

Q: Where does the Fellows program take place?

The courses are primarily held at Gallagher Hall, Graduate School of Management. Courses may occasionally be taught at the Sacramento campus of the Graduate School of Management.

Q: How much does the Fellows program cost?

Through the support of the Graduate School of Management, accepted Fellows attend the program at no cost.

Q. When are the classes?

There are generally two classes in Fall, two in Winter and one in Spring. Classes are three hours in duration, once per week, throughout the quarter.

Q. What if I can only attend some of the classes?

All fellows are expected to attend all five classes. They are also expected to participate fully in their classes, including all homework, coursework and projects. We admit Fellows based on their commitment to the program.

Q: Do I receive credit for the courses?

Graduate students receive a transcript for their courses. As graduate students, you are enrolled in each course and receive an official course grade.

Postdoctoral researchers are not enrolled students at the university so do not receive official course credit. Postdocs will be graded in their courses but you do not receive an official university transcript.

Q: Can I transfer credits from the program?

Enrolled students who receive an official transcript may be able to transfer course credit to an MBA program. Transfer credit is determined by each university differently so you will need to have your transcript evaluated.

Q. How much time does the Fellows program take?

Fellows should anticipate spending 15-20 hours a week on the program, on top of regular research / lab duties. Two courses per quarter equals six hours of class time. On top of that, estimate another 12 – 14 hours of homework, group work, and projects.

2014/15 BD Fellows

Our most recent BD Fellows are a diverse and committed group of science and engineering graduate students and postdocs who spent the past year developing the commercial potential of their research. Read the spotlight stories below to learn about their research and experience.

Business Development Fellows

Spotlight Story
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Elizabeth Fox
Helping families and children with autism spectrum disorders

Elizabeth Fox is a Ph.D. candidate at UC Davis working in the laboratory of Dr. Judy Van de Water. She received her bachelor of science in microbiology at UC Santa Barbara, where she was first introduced to the field of immunology. Her fascination and enthusiasm for the subject drove her to pursue an advanced degree. Fox was attracted to UC Davis by the diverse, interdisciplinary nature of the immunology research conducted here.  

Spotlight Story
Image of Hyrum Gillespie

Hyrum Gillespie
Combating and controlling antibiotic resistant “super bacteria”

Hyrum Gillespie is a Ph.D. candidate in the Integrated Genetics and Genomics program (Department of Plant Sciences), and an active member of the Designated Emphasis in Biotechnology program at UC Davis. He earned a BS in crop science and biotechnology at Utah State University, where he graduated magna cum laude with minors in mathematics and Portuguese.

Spotlight Story
Image of Billy Krimmel

Billy Krimmel
Why native plants and insects matter

Billy Krimmel is a Ph.D. candidate in ecology and works in the Department of Entomology and Nematology.

What’s important about your research—and where do you hope to take it?

I am fascinated by the interactions between plants and insects. Plants and insects are the foundation of ecosystems and their intricate interactions are important for human health and wellbeing.

Spotlight Story
Image of Brenna Kiniry

Brenna Kiniry
Novel therapeutics or prophylactics for fighting HIV

A Ph.D. candidate in microbiology, Brenna Kiniry received her bachelor of science in microbiology from UC Davis. She worked for a private food safety company as a supervising microbiologist before returning to academia to pursue a graduate degree. As a graduate student, Kiniry participates in the Designated Emphasis in Biotechnology program and has received certification as an emergency medical technician.

Spotlight Story
Image of Satish Mahajan

Satish Mahajan
Improving efficiencies, reducing costs for better health care for all

Satish Mahajan is a Ph.D. candidate in healthcare leadership and nursing science at the UC Davis Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing.

What’s important about your research—and where do you hope to take it?

My research involves working on large data sets built from electronic health records. These data sets are used with predictive modeling and natural language processing algorithms to provide patient-centric healthcare. The outcomes are also used to improve efficiencies in care delivery and reduce costs while improving care quality.

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