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

Jenna Harvestine, Business Development Fellow 2017/18

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.

Aaron Selfridge, 2017/18 Business Development Fellow

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.

Scientists and engineers may come up with brilliant ideas, but businesspeople bring those ideas to the world. My Ph.D. provided me the tools to design a product, but my experiences as a Business Development Fellow have prepared me to get that product through the pipeline and into the market.

—Jenna Harvestine, 2017/18 Business Development Fellow and Ph.D. Candidate, Biomedical Engineering
 Why Participate? 

• Learn business skills: No concrete business 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 that 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 the UC Entrepreneurship Academy in September.
 • Learn about the Big Bang! Business Competition and consider participating.
• Submit a letter of support from your advisor.
• Attend monthly lunch sessions with Keller Pathway Fellows, invited partners and industry guests.
• We recommend that you have completed your coursework before joining this program. 

How to Apply

The Business Development Fellowship program is open only to UC Davis graduate students, Ph.D. candidates and postdoctoral researchers.

Applications for the 2019/20 program will open in spring 2019.

  •  Complete our online application form.
  • If you are accepted to the program, ask your advisor to email a letter of support to Senior Program Manager Niki Peterson. This letter should indicate your advisor supports your participation in the program.

We will invite eligible applicants to interviews in August and notify applicants of acceptance the week after interviews.

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 a year-long program for master’s, Ph.D. students and postdocs in science and engineering. The program provides an introduction to, and hand-on experience in, developing new business ventures designed to commercialize research. Students take four 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 the program offers; actual courses are based on the Graduate School of Management’s course schedule and availability: 

Fall Quarter

MGT 251 Management of Innovation – TR: 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. | Professor Andrew Hargadon
Describes the processes of creativity and innovation and provides students with the means to crafter interdependent innovation strategies, work practices and cultures for managing innovation in organizations.

MGT 290 Entrepreneurship Clinic – T: 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. | Lecturer Hemant Vaidya
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.

Winter Quarter

MGT 244 New and Small Business Ventures – T: 6 – 9: p.m., Sacramento Campus | Lecturer Marc Lowe
Emphasizes starting a new business venture or managing a small business during its formative stages. 

MGT 250 Technology, Competition and Strategy – M: 3:10  – 6 p.m., Professor Hemant Bhargarva
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) which lead to distinctive outcomes and competitive strategies.

Spring Quarter

TBD Elective 


Who can participate in the Fellows program?

The Business Development Fellowship Program is open only to UC Davis graduate students, Ph.D. candidates 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. 

How do you select participants? 

Acceptance is based on your application, a letter of support from your advisor and your interview. We schedule an interview with every applicant. We are looking for candidates who are motivated to learn outside the lab and to 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 syllabus. 

How much does the Fellows program cost? 

Through the support of the Graduate School of Management, accepted Business Development Fellows attend the program at no cost. Fellows are responsible for course books and other materials. 

What are the courses? 

Fellows participate in five Graduate School of Management courses over the course of the academic year. The class 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? There are generally two classes in fall, two in winter and one in apring. Each course is 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 so do not receive official course credit. Postdocs are graded in their courses, but 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 take?

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. In addition, estimate another 12–14 hours of homework, group work and projects. 

What is the Letter of Commitment? 

We take this program and its time commitment for all parties involved very seriously. All admitted fellows are required to read, agree to and sign a Letter of Commitment that outlines program requirements. Failure to fulfill program obligations can result in dismissal from the program.

What kind of letter of support do I need? 

Because of the outside time commitment, we ask that you 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. 

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. It is a springboard for moving research out of the lab and into the world. 

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 develop the commercial potential of your research of idea. 

The academy takes place the second week in September before classes begin. Business Development Fellows are required to attend the academy. There is no fee for Business Development Fellows to attend. 

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

The Big Bang! is the annual business plan competition at UC Davis. We encourage all Business Development Fellows to participate on a Big Bang! team, but it is not required. The work you do in the courses will often translate to your Big Bang! team. Generally, you should look for an MBA student to participate on a Big Bang! team with you. 

Who are in the fellows courses? 

The courses you take are part of the Graduate School of Management’s MBA curriculum. 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 you put together scientists and engineers with MBA students. The experience helps students 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 host monthly lunches for our Business Development and Keller Pathways fellows. These typically feature a guest speaker, and all fellows are required to attend. 

We also host five or six networking/speaker events during the academic year. These events are optional for our fellows; however, any that you participate in will enhance your experience as a Business Development Fellow. 

How much are the course materials? 

Materials cost depends on the course, but are similar to any grad school course. 

How long has the program been going on? 

The first Business Development Fellows cohort was formed in 2004. 

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

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


Business Development Fellows

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