Ph.D. Commercialization Fellowship

The Commercialization Fellowship is an opportunity for Cornell Engineering Ph.D. candidates to take a deep dive into the commercialization process and potential real-world applications of university inventions.

What is the Commercialization Fellowship?

The Commercialization Fellowship is a unique opportunity for Ph.D. candidates to spend a fully-funded summer and semester in an intensive entrepreneurship program with a personal mentor to explore commercializing a product of their choosing. From intellectual property management to supply chains, fellows will learn the tools, methods and skills for bringing a product or technology to market.

The fellowship experience will enable deep experiential learning in the commercial side of innovation, and one-on-one mentoring assures a deep, personalized educational experience unmatched by traditional entrepreneurship programs.

Learn more about the Commercialization Fellowship curriculum and the expected commitment of participants.

The Commercialization Fellowship will not be accepting applications for 2024. Please reach out to for additional opportunities.

Headan Bai Headshot

The fellowship experience gave me the opportunity to look at a technology from the lens of market needs. Through commercialization exploration, I'm glad to see our sensor platform technology sparks many interests across industries. This experience has taught me how to marry research motivations with market needs, produce useful technologies, and eventually make positive impacts to our society.

— Hedan Bai, PhD, Materials Science

Alumni Success

Juan Guzman, M.S. '14, Ph.D. '17

Juan Guzman, co-founder of Capro-X, presents his startup pitch at the 2019 Grow-NY competition. In the background, is a slide with his company's logo.Juan Guzman came to Cornell interested in entrepreneurship. Through the Commercialization Fellowship, he learned to conduct customer discovery and found a successful customer niche for his research. “Initially, we researched converting waste water from the bioethanol industry and waste water from the wine industry,” explained Guzman.

“I also went to an American Cheese Society conference and spoke to them about conversion of waste water with whey. I discovered this was not really a pain point for them; but, when we looked at research on acid whey, we began to think seriously about the Greek yogurt industry."

The Commercialization Fellowship afforded Guzman time outside the lab to explore his business idea. It also offered training in entrepreneurship and connected him with partners in industry. Taking what he learned in the fellowship, Guzman co-founded Capro-X, which utilizes naturally occurring nonGMO microbes to transform acid whey waste into clean water and environmentally friendly chemicals used in consumer products. Since its inception, Capro-X has achieved several milestones:

  • $1,374,000 in National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation Research awards
  • $100,000 in funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 
  • $250,000 prize in the 2019 Grow-NY Food & Ag Business Competition
  • The company is currently fundraising to continue growing its team with the goal of marketing its green chemicals in 2022, and installing its first commercial system in 2024.

“Looking back, the opportunities and experiences that I was afforded as a student gave me a strong foundation to build a science-based startup from scratch,” said Guzman. “Cornell’s entrepreneurship ecosystem really makes this area ideal for growing a new company.”

Commercialization Fellowship News

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