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Business Development Fellowship Program
Hands-on experience in developing business skills

Business Development Fellowship Program

The year-long Business Development Fellowship program provides UC Davis 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 five Graduate School of Management courses, networking events and cohort-based mentoring, students gain a first-hand look at the entrepreneurial experience and opportunities available in industry.

The program teams MBA students with researchers from a wide variety of disciplines to develop the commercial potential of cutting-edge research. The dynamic, interactive environment blends effective theory with hands-on participation and solution-driven innovation.

The Business Development Fellowship is intense but richly rewarding. The classes have given me a framework for translating an interesting idea into a useful commodity that can be distributed in a financial sustainable way. I didn’t know how little I knew about business until going through this program. 

—Justin Klein, 2015/16 Business Development Fellow + Winner, 2016 Big Bang! Business Competition

How to Apply

The Business Development Fellowship 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, senior program manager. 

We will invite eligible applicants to group interviews in August. If accepted as a Business Development Fellow, there is no cost for the program.

Applications for the 2017/18 program are closed. We will open applications for the 2018/19 program in spring 2018. Please check back then.

Selection Criteria
  • Due to the heavy workload of the Business Development Fellowship 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, launch a startup 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 to UC Davis graduate students and postdocs. We generally accept doctoral students, post-coursework. Master’s students should have completed their coursework to be considered.

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 methods 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 courses?

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

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

All fellows are expected to attend all five courses. 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.

2017/18 Fellows

Our Business Development 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

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