Commercialisation of science


Patent work requires a solid scientific background and attention to detail. You will examine new inventions in order to assess whether they can be patented, either as a patent attorney working on the behalf of the inventor or as a patent examiner on the behalf of the UK’s Intellectual Property Office or European Patent Office. Roles may be linked to a specific discipline area (e.g. physics) or cover all science discoveries. Entry to patent law may be as a patent examiner or a patent attorney traineeship which incorporates on the job training and notoriously tough Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys exams. Some firms look favourably on applicants with a PhD and those with proficiency in French and German. Language skills are essential for European patent examiner roles: you must be fluent in English, French or German and have the ability to understand the other two.

Which role is for you: patent examiner or patent attorney?

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CareerConnect is a good place to look for patents vacancies, as well as IP Careers and making speculative approaches to firms. The CIPA website has a database where you can find a patent attorney.

Medical/ Pharmaceutical and Technical Sales

Recruiters looking for sales staff need graduates who are confident communicators, self-motivated, persuasive and enthusiastic. Whilst recruiters may not specify a science degree, having one will be a real advantage if it helps you to better understand the science behind the product you’re selling. For example, medical sales representatives must complete qualifications recognised by the Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority and provided by the ABPI, which examine the skills and knowledge required to promote medicines.

Look for opportunities to demonstrate these skills through charity fund-raising and part-time sales work. For medical sales, recruiters will expect you to have work-shadowed a rep, so you understand the nature of the role (e.g. extensive travel during the day, self-motivated and persuasive to set up meetings with busy clinicians). For technical sales, relevant industrial experience in the area you are entering can be an advantage, particularly when complex specialist knowledge of the product is required. In most cases, a driving licence is usually essential for travelling to client meetings.

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