PLEASE NOTE: The Fall semester will begin on Tuesday, August 25. Information and FAQs are available on the Return to Grounds website and the Fall 2020 Student Resource website, which will be updated frequently.

Innovation & Commercialization

The challenge of the scientist and the scholar is a challenge shared with the innovator and the entrepreneur: not just imagining but in fact introducing to the world new ways of thinking, ways of understanding, and ways of doing. At times creative, at other times analytical, we are trying to impact the world in some meaningful way.

The Innovation and Commercialization core module is best suited for students in middle and advanced years of PhD training and all postdoctoral scholars, collectively called ‘trainees,’ who are interested in: independent research careers; careers in business, venture capital, or early-stage, companies; or aspiring entrepreneurs. This module is developed and offered in collaboration with the UVA Darden School of Business Batten Institute and the UVA Licensing and Ventures Group.

Learning goals

  • The tools of the entrepreneurial trade afford knowledge and preparation for future careers, both in academic and non-academic sectors — as a faculty PI, on a startup team, as a chief scientific officer, in venture capital, and more.

  • Introduction to and understanding of concepts, frameworks, and vocabulary, used in the business world (e.g., design thinking, customer discovery, market analysis, business models, sources of funding, intellectual property)

  • Foster a creative and innovative mindset by introducing participants to and engaging them with the challenges faced by innovators and entrepreneurs

  • Awareness of the broad set of PhD skills and knowledge that are well-suited for careers that involve innovation

  • Opportunity to meet the community of professionals and organizations in Charlottesville involved in entrepreneurship, venture capital, business development, commercialization and technology transfer.

Recommended Prior Training

For optimal learning experience and outcomes, we recommend participation in PhD Plus Career Design prior to this module


A student-centered engagement strategy for career education and professional development in Innovation and Commercialization (also applicable to all PhD Plus career training core modules). For details, please refer to program philosophy and attend PhD Plus Career Design. Click on menu links for Research, Community and Skills under Innovation & Commercialization to determine specific engagement strategy




September 22, 2020 | 4:30 pm

Different ways of thinking can also benefit from different ways of connecting with and understanding those for whom we are trying develop novel solutions. Gaining that understanding means actually talking to humans!

Our workshop today will involve a high-paced introduction to the design thinking process.

:: PLEASE READ or...

September 29, 2020 | 4:30 pm

Participants will join CvilleBioHub for their monthly event. Detail and registration information will be shared later.


David Touve - Senior Director, Applied Innovation, at Darden's Batten Institute.


October 6, 2020 | 4:30 pm

Today's discussion will center upon the challenge of defining and understanding not only (a) the underlying "problem" any idea/invention is trying to address, but also (b) the people who or entities that experience this problem—and why.


Case study - Doug Rauch and the American Food...

October 13, 2020 | 4:30 pm

The tools of science aren't just for, well, science. Thinking like a scientist—being hypothesis-driven—can also be the right frame of mind when developing novel products and new companies.

During today's session, we will distill a startup idea (aka, the hunch) into a set of hypotheses, while outlining the ways through which we could test...

October 20, 2020 | 4:30 pm

No innovation exists in a vacuum. Instead, these new discoveries or inventions exist in the context of alternative ideas and solutions. And so, for our discussion today, we will gain some experience with a framework through which we might better investigate and understand the market context within which an innovation operates.


October 27, 2020 | 4:30 pm

Participants will join CvilleBioHub for their monthly event. Detail and registration information will be shared later.


David Touve - Senior Director, Applied Innovation, at Darden's Batten Institute.


November 3, 2020 | 4:30 pm

Any innovation ultimately creates impact, impact which has value—whether measured in pure dollars or other terms. Yet, pricing truly novel innovations can be difficult as there might be no direct comparables in the market.

Our discussion will center upon the pricing challenges faced by the founders of Zipcar when they first launch their...

November 10, 2020 | 4:30 pm

Estimating the number of people or entities who might benefit from any innovation is the sort of exercise ultimately designed for understanding how we make sense of markets and impact than for perfectly calculating the size of the market and our potential impact.

Our discussion today will center upon Zipcar in its early days, as the...

November 17, 2020 | 4:30 pm

Our objective for this session is to discuss the various facets of a startup venture by way of the “buttons” that often get pushed during a startup pitch. Importantly, while a great pitch does not equal a great startup, a great startup has often been able to hit each of these buttons in a compelling way.