Adam Levy finds out about the transferable skills that can help academic scientists in the business world, and how some entrepreneurs have roles that straddle both academia and industry.

How does graduate school and academia prepare you for entrepreneurship and a commercial career?

J. Nikol Jackson-Beckham, a social scientist who swapped a faculty position to launch a craft beer consultancy, says: “I’ve been in the position of acting as a department chair, and like most of us in who’ve done kind of full time, faculty appointments, have to navigate colleagues, navigate administration. We simultaneously do a lot, and a lot of things of consequence, prepping courses, building a curriculum, maintaining our research programs.

“The complexities of navigating those spaces provided me with a great head start to doing client work. To be honest, client work is a lot easier in comparison to navigating personalities in academia.”

Javier Garcia Martinez, who founded Rive Technology and now combines a business role with an academic position at the University of Alicante, Spain, adds: “Our education as scientists in terms of rigour, looking at data, connecting the dots, makes us very well equipped to launch a startup.

“Any group leader is also an entrepreneur. You need to raise money from industry or from government, you need to deliver papers on time, present in conferences, you need to hire, you need to inspire your team, you need a vision, you need to develop new technologies.”

“I know when my students come to my class I can share with them not only what's in the textbooks, but also my own personal experience on why a patent is important, and how to create a team.”

This is the final episode in our six-part Business of science series. Previous episodes looked at investor pitches, registering patents, technology transfer teams, scaling up and learning from setbacks.

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