The Executive Director will ensure that Business Connect resources are appropriately applied to achieve growth in the number and quality of corporate research agreements & partnerships while driving relationships with corporations to the highest possible level of partnership and mutual value in line with University strategic objectives.
The Executive Director will lead a team of professionals who 1) engage with faculty, department chairs, and college deans to understand areas of strength in University research with potential for corporate engagement, 2) engage in business development activities to attract and retain corporate partners, 3) negotiate and execute contracts that support new and ongoing collaborations with for-profit corporations, and 4) partner with University stakeholders in corporate engagement (i.e., University Advancement, Career Services, Procurement, Athletics, etc.) to maximize University corporate engagement.
In addition to the leadership of the unit, the Executive Director will also maintain their own portfolio of corporate relationships, with accountability to drive those relationships to productive outcomes.
As a peer in the MSU Innovation Center and the regional innovation and commercialization ecosystem, the Executive Director will strategically collaborate with leaders of MSU Technologies, Spartan Innovations, the Burgess Institute, and external partners in economic development such as the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP).
This position will report to the Associate Vice President for Innovation & Economic Development.
The key responsibilities of the Executive Director will include but are not limited to the following:
50% Business Development and Contract Negotiation/Execution
Strategically evaluate and assess existing research strengths at MSU in the context of partnerships with the private sector and creating commercial value. Routinely engage with faculty, department chairs, and college deans to understand areas of strength in University research with potential for corporate engagement, and to recruit them as partners to maximize their potential.
Oversee and supervise all business development, contracting, and other business activities of Business Connect; establish a global commercial partner base in alignment with MSU’s research portfolio.
Establish and/or augment the use of advanced data systems, 1) to track performance metrics for the office and its personnel, 2) to optimize the operations of the organization, as well as to 3) gather critical data on potential corporate partners, and actively market partnering opportunities to potential partners.
Make recommendations to the AVP for Innovation and Economic Development concerning business decisions and investments to potentiate research partnerships with commercial potential and long-term planning for development of MSU’s corporate partnering opportunities.
Act as the accountable signatory for contracts with for-profit organizations that support Research and related activities. Maintain compliance with University policies and the law, while exercising flexibility and creativity to create mutually beneficial agreements on an expedited basis. In partnership with MSU Technologies, evaluate execute the proper balance of value to MSU in the form of short-term research dollars, in exchange for potentially diminished long-term returns due to company-favorable intellectual property terms.
35% Personnel and Leadership
Maintain a robust performance management process and culture with annual goal setting and reviews with compensation decisions linked directly to performance. Utilize 360 feedback in the process wherever practical.
Recruit new personnel when required for the key business functions of Business Connect with a diligent focus on diversity. Maintain an active program of succession planning; cultivating and developing potential new leaders or contributors to the unit’s success.
Work together with leaders of MSU Technologies, Spartan Innovations, VPRI, and other stakeholders to strategically define the best business options for developing corporate relationships.
Be a visible leader and proponent of holistic corporate engagement, collaborating with University stakeholders in corporate engagement (i.e., University Advancement, Career Services, Procurement, Athletics, etc.) to achieve sustainable and mutually beneficial work habits that support this goal.
Constantly work to maximize the partnership with University stakeholders in corporate engagement (i.e., University Advancement, Career Services, Procurement, Athletics, etc.) to maximize the potential dimensions of corporate engagement at MSU.
Develop and oversee an education and outreach program to faculty and students relevant to Business Connect activities to create a culture on campus that will lead to more corporate-engaged research and translation of ideas into practice through partnerships and the development of intellectual property.
Oversee training of all functions for continuous improvement and development of Business Connect including Intern and other training programs for MSU students.
15% Outreach and Engagement
With peers in MSU’s other business development groups (MSU Technologies, Spartan Innovations), engage with external commercial alliances, including agencies such as Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC), Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP), Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM), NACRO, UIDP, and other economic development centers and Smart Zones within Michigan.
Maintain an optimal public relations position on behalf of Business Connect; establish networks with political and trade organization.
Network across campus organizations and administrators including MSU Technologies, Spartan Innovations, Conflict of Interest Office, Office of General Counsel, Sponsored Research Administration, Contract and Grant Administration, Deans, Associate Deans for Research, University Executive Leadership, and the MSU Foundation to coordinate Business Connect functions and to promote its objectives and goals.
Equal Employment Opportunity Statement
All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, citizenship, age, disability or protected veteran status.
Bachelors -Business, Engineering, or Science
Masters -Business, Engineering, or Science
Candidates must have the capacity to comply with federally mandated requirements of U.S. export control laws.
Bachelor’s degree required, an advanced degree (PhD, MBA, etc.) preferred (preferably in business, engineering, or the sciences).
10 years’ experience working in research management, business development, or corporate relations with at least 5 years of this experience in private sector research and development. Extensive and broad experience in the business of research and commercialization, a documented and strong track record in negotiation and contract development, or other business operations across an academic-corporate interface.
Commercial expertise and mindset achieved as an executive or manager of a business unit, a corporate, government or academic corporate engagement unit, or research and development organization. Evidence of ability to balance competing priorities and effective time management skills.
General management experience in a university, or biotechnology/engineering, or other relevant company, and related experience building and/or managing a unit within an academic environment. A demonstrated record of proactive attention to matters of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
Specific experience that relates to technologies with commercial potential developed in MSU colleges (e.g., Agriculture, Communication Arts and Sciences, Education, Engineering, Natural Science, Social Sciences and Medicine) is highly desired.
A reputation and demonstrated success as a visionary, creative and dynamic business professional, and more specifically, success in creating commercial value derived from scientific or other innovations. International business experience and established networks are highly desired.
Excellent oral and written communication skills, highly effective as a business leader sensitive to the needs and workings of the academic and corporate environments and missions. Must demonstrate leadership and a capacity to achieve consensus among university officials, the MSU Foundation, Michigan economic development leaders and Business Connect personnel concerning key initiatives, commercial strategies and long-term planning of technology growth and infrastructure.
Capacity to easily comprehend technical communications/documents from diverse scientific and technical disciplines and work effectively with diverse elements of the MSU technology base.
Operational knowledge and significant experience with university-based research contracting processes and the development and execution of diverse agreements, demonstrated negotiating skills, and experience in advanced deal-making business strategies. Evidence of creative solutions in complex negotiations and an experience in negotiating to productive middle ground will be highly valued.
Established networks and working relationships with corporations within the US and internationally, to enable opportunities to link Business Connect to external partners.
Familiarity with external funding opportunities from federal, state, or private granting agencies, and generally understand the requirements of regulatory bodies (FDA, USDA, EMEA etc).
Fluency with computer software (spreadsheet, word processing, PowerPoint).
Advanced knowledge of the law (especially relating to contracts and intellectual property).
Demonstrated ability to interact effectively with a wide variety of people and to act effectively both independently and as a member of a team.
Required Application Materials
Please submit a CV and Cover Letter with your application.
The university is requiring all MSU students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 with limited exceptions. Learn more at: https://msu.edu/together-we-will/
Interested candidates must contact the recruiting firm we are partnering with, Gardner Innovation Search Partners.
MSU Business Connect is seeking its Executive Director to lead our team of professionals in continued momentum to connect Michigan State University with the private sector through corporate engagement. As part of the MSU Innovation Center, the Business Connect team supports start up creation, and assists in promoting research-based economic development opportunities. We invite you to consider this opportunity to join us in strengthening Michigan's economy through innovation and entrepreneurial activity.
Michigan State University has been advancing the common good with uncommon will for more than 160 years. One of the top research universities in the world, MSU pushes the boundaries of discovery and forges enduring partnerships to solve the most pressing global challenges while providing life-changing opportunities to a diverse and inclusive academic community through more than 200 programs of study in 17 degree-granting colleges.
Spartans work every day to advance the common good in uncommon ways.Together, we tackle some of the world?s toughest problems to find solutions that make life better?from alternative energy to better food safety to breakthrough medical and environmental applications achieved through rare isotope research.We teach. We explore and we discover. We collaborate and lead. We innovate, inspire, and empower. We achieve our potential and create circumstances that help our students and others achieve theirs.We're good at it, and we've been at it for more than 150 years.The nation?s pioneer land-grant university, MSU began as a bold experiment that democratized higher education and helped bring science and innovation into everyday life. The revolutionary concept became a model for the nation.Today, MSU is one of the top research universities in the world?on one of the biggest, greenest campuses in the nation. Home to nationally ranked and recognized academic, residential college, and service-learning programs, we?re a diverse community of dedicated students and scholars, athletes and artists, scientists and leaders.In ways both practical and profound, we work to create a stronger, more sustainable, and more hopeful future for all.