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Business Development Fellowship Program

Bamboo XL Huff 2017/18 Business Development Fellow UC Davis

The year-long Business Development Fellowship program provides UC Davis master’s students, doctoral students and postdoctoral scholars in all disciplines hands-on experience in developing business skills for a career in industry or to develop new business ventures.

The dynamic, interactive environment blends effective theory with hands-on participation and solution-driven innovation. Through a combination of five Graduate School of Management courses, networking events and cohort-based mentoring, Fellows gain a first-hand look at the entrepreneurial experience, learn how to develop the potential of their research, and explore opportunities available in industry. 

Stacy Seidl

As an academic scientist you have little exposure to business, industry and the startup community. Having the opportunity to experience life outside of the ‘lab’ was eye opening and life changing.

—Stacy Seidl, 2018/19 Business Development Fellow and Ph.D. candidate, neuroscience

Why Participate?

  • Learn business skills. No concrete idea is required—come to learn.
  • Prepare for a career in industry—or define your research project early on.
  • Gain an “edge” and a taste of business your peers won’t have during the job search.

What should I expect?

  • To spend about 20 hours per week working on the program. Courses are three hours and require group work. 
  • Attend all class sessions—and sign a letter of commitment upon acceptance.
  • Attend the UC Entrepreneurship Academy in October.
  •  Learn about the Big Bang! Business Competition and consider participating.
  • Attend monthly lunch sessions with Keller Pathway Fellows, invited partners and industry guests. Network with the Keller Fellows during these sessions.
  • Due to the intensity of the program, you must complete your academic program coursework before joining.

Program Requirements 2020/21

UC Entrepreneurship Academy. You must attend the full virtual programming. We email the academy program to fellows in late August.

Opening Fellows’ Luncheon: September 21 | noon to 1:30 p.m. | Zoom

Monthly Fellows’ Luncheons (up to two excused absences allowed) noon to 1 p.m. | Guest speakers TBA | Zoom

  • October 12, 2020 
  • November 16, 2020 
  • December 7, 2020 
  • January 11, 2021 
  • February 22, 2021 
  • March 14, 2021 
  • ​April 12, 2021 
  • May 9, 2021 

Closing Dinner: June 13, 2021 | 5–7 p.m. | Location TBD

Graduate School of Management Courses: Fall, Winter and Spring Quarters

How to Apply

The Business Development Fellowship program is open only to UC Davis graduate students, Ph.D. candidates and postdoctoral researchers. Applications are now closed for 2020/21.

  • If you are accepted to the program, ask your advisor to email Senior Program Manager Niki Peterson a letter in support indicating that this program will take priority should scheduling conflicts occur. Please delay applying to the program if time constraints are a challenge.
    Sample Letter of Support
Selection Criteria
  • Due to the heavy workload of the Business Development Fellowship program, applicants must have completed their coursework for their master’s or doctoral degree.
  • Fellows must have the support of their advisor(s) to participate. 
    Sample Letter of Support
  • Priority selection goes to applicants with a career goal to work in industry, launch a startup or commercialize their research.


Business Development Fellows take five courses in technology management, innovation and entrepreneurship, and participate in interdisciplinary practicums alongside MBA students and under the guidance of Graduate School of Management faculty, investors and entrepreneurs.

Educational Objectives 

Students 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 

Below is an example of the classes included in the program; actual courses are based on the Graduate School of Management’s course schedule and availability.

Fall Quarter

MGT 251 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.

Winter Quarter

MGT 244 New and Small Business Ventures 
Emphasizes starting a new business venture or managing a small business during its formative stages. 

MGT 250 Technology, Competition and Strategy 
This course helps you understand business strategies for firms that make technology products, those that feature digital components and network effects. Technology products face distinctive demand-side economic forces (e.g., how value is created) and supply-side forces (e.g., cost structures) that lead to distinctive outcomes and competitive strategies.

Spring Quarter

MGT 290 Entrepreneurship 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. 

Fifth Course TBD


Who can participate in the Fellows program?

The Business Development Fellows program is open to UC Davis graduate students, Ph.D. candidates and postdocs in all disciplines.

We generally accept doctoral students, post-coursework. Masters students are admitted conditionally, based on their coursework load. 

How do you select participants? 

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

Where does the Fellows program take place? 

The courses are held at Gallagher Hall, Graduate School of Management, unless otherwise noted on the course syllabus. 

How much does the Fellows program cost? 

Through the support of the Graduate School of Management, accepted Fellows attend the program at no cost. Fellows are responsible for supplying/paying for course books and materials. 

What are the courses? 

Fellows participate in five Graduate School of Management courses over the academic year. The course schedule changes year to year, but an overview includes: 

• Management of Innovation 
• Entrepreneurship Clinic 
• Technology, Competition and Strategy 
• New and Small Business Ventures 
• Course TBA 

When are the courses held?

There are generally two courses in fall, two in winter, and one in spring. Classes are three hours in duration, once a week, throughout the quarter. 

What if I can only attend some of the classes? 

All fellows are expected to attend classes regularly. We admit fellows based on their commitment to the program. 

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. 

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

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. 

How much time does the Fellows program require?

Fellows should anticipate spending 15–20 hours a week on the program, on top of your regular research / lab duties. 

Two courses a quarter equals six hours of class time. On top of that, estimate another 12–14 of homework, group work and projects. 

What kind of letter of support do I need? 

Because of the outside time commitment, we ask that your advisor write a letter indicating they support your participation in the program. Your advisor should be on board with your participation, as you will likely need flexibility with your research and lab time to participate in the program. 
Sample Letter of Support

What is the UC Entrepreneurship Academy? Am I required to attend? 

The three-day UC Entrepreneurship Academy is the premiere academic program for commercializing science and engineering innovations.

The academy is taught by investors, entrepreneurs, university faculty and industry experts who serve as mentors and guest speakers. You’ll gain the knowledge and networks needed to move your research or idea out of the lab and into the world, where it can truly make a difference. 

The academy takes place October 6–8, 2020, at the UC Davis International Center. Business Development Fellows are required to attend the academy. There is no fee for Fellows to attend. 

What is the Big Bang? Am I required to participate in it? 

The Big Bang! is the annual UC Davis business plan competition. We encourage all Fellows to participate on a Big Bang! team. The work you do in the courses will often translate to your Big Bang! team. Generally, you should look for an MBA student to partner with on a team. 

Who are in the Fellows courses? 

The courses you take are part of the Graduate School of Management’s MBA curriculum. You will be in a class with MBA students. In a class of 30, you can expect 21 will be MBA students and nine will be Business Development Fellows. 

What is the benefit of taking courses with the MBA students? 

We have found that wonderful things happen when scientists and engineers come together with MBA students. Business Development Fellows discover new concepts, possible business ventures, and alternate methods of thinking about an idea. 

What other events take place during the year? 

In addition to the coursework and Big Bang!, we typically host five or six social events during the year. These are optional for you to attend. However, we recommend that you participate to enhance your experience as a Business Development Fellow. 

How much are the course materials? 

Depends on the course, but similar to any grad school class. 

How long has the program been going on? 

We have offered the program annually since 2004. 

Is it possible to audit a course for an evening to get feel for what they are like? 

Upon permission from the instructor, some courses may be audited for an evening.


Business Development Fellows

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