Director, Innovation Partnerships

  • Salk Institute for Biological Studies
  • San Diego, CA, USA
  • Apr 19, 2021
Full time Biology/Biotechnology/Life Sciences

Job Description

Application Instructions:

Employment History Include your last ten (10) years of employment history, or length of your employment history if less, including all position (even those that are not relevant to this position) and periods of unemployment. Incomplete information could disqualify you from further consideration.


The Director of Innovation Partnerships plays a critical role in enhancing Salk's research infrastructure, developing and maintaining academic and industry research partnerships, and broadly facilitating the translation of the wide-ranging scientific discoveries into commercial products and services that positively impact human health.  This position will report to the Senior Director, Office of Technology Development (OTD), and will have responsibility to (i) collaborate with faculty and research staff to maintain a broad understanding of all Salk science and its potential applications, (ii) source opportunities and negotiate transactions for advancement of Salk research, (iii) continuously assess business needs for which Salk research can be leveraged, (iv) support entrepreneurial inventors and facilitate Salk startup formation, (v) develop and implement OTD outreach events and marketing efforts, and (vi) work closely with the Senior Director and OTD colleagues, executive management, the external relations department and members of the Board of Trustees as needed to develop strategic investment opportunities for corporations, investors, and other private entities.    


Research and Technology Development; Business Development (55%)

  • Formulates and implements strategies to identify and engage industry and academic partnerships that advance the Salk's research programs and support translation of Salk innovations to meet OTD's licensing and commercialization objectives.
  • Identifies opportunities, initiates proposals, makes presentations, prepares terms and conditions, designs deal structures, conducts negotiations and brings to fruition sponsored research, strategic alliance, collaboration and various other agreements to support and enhance Salk's research programs in a robust and sustainable manner with both monetary and non-monetary resources.
  • Prepares reports on activities, goals and revenues generated.
  • Maintains current understanding of biotech, medtech and high-tech market trends and needs, and connects them to Salk's technology assets or research programs/labs; make value propositions to synergistic companies, entrepreneurs and investors, and other partnership opportunities.
  • In consultation with Senior Director OTD, ensures that all transactions appropriately protect Salk's intellectual property rights.
  • Collaborate with the OTD licensing team as needed to commercialize Salk innovations, including the evaluation, marketing, and partnering.
  • Works across the Institute with other administration departments to facilitate Salk's research, fund raising, and translational goals.
  • Prepares marketing and communication materials for the Institute's research programs, strategic initiatives, and specific technologies (in collaboration with licensing team).
  • Regularly meets with faculty, scientific staff, external relations, grants & research development, and licensing staff to discuss research developments and new technologies to identify potential for commercialization and funding opportunities.
  • Assists faculty interested in entrepreneurial activities, including fostering partnerships with entrepreneurship organizations/other entrepreneurs, venture capital and angel groups.
  • Assists Salk's communications and external relations departments in public relations efforts regarding the technology transfer and economic development initiatives of the OTD on behalf of Salk.
  • Plans and executes active outreach and education programs, and industry partnering events as needed to support OTD objectives.

Industry Alliance Management (35%)

  • Acts as primary relationship manager and point of contact for companies collaborating with Salk researchers.
  • Maintains relationships with industry partners including multi-year strategic partnerships and sponsored research agreements.
  • Assists OTD Senior Director with the identification and management of future strategic research alliances; widens the applied reach of Salk research through corporate engagement, including by initiating, maintaining and expanding strategic alliances and corporate collaborations in fields such as biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medical devices and diagnostics.

Department Leadership and Oversight of Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) Process (10%)

  • Supervises, supports, and provides guidance to the MTA Coordinator and the Licensing Associate(s); serves as a mentor and otherwise assists in their development as a licensing professional.
  • Assist the Senior Director OTD in overseeing the MTA process and policy, reviewing and negotiating incoming and outgoing MTAs as needed.
  • Ensures that laboratory personnel are kept abreast of status of MTAs under negotiation.
  • Works with the Senior Director, OTD and Director of Licensing in building and maintaining a collegial team environment that is directed to serving the overall program goals of OTD and Salk, and provides for continuous cross-fertilization of knowledge and experiences among the department staff.



  • Minimum of 8 years' experience in an academic institution or industry, with emphasis on business development, evaluating, licensing, or marketing of intellectual property and/or technologies for commercial development.
  • Minimum of 2 years supervisory and/or leadership experience.
  • Experience building, evaluating, and clearly presenting complex business models.
  • Experience at identifying, negotiating, and managing strategic alliances and sponsored collaborations.
  • Experience in market research utilizing secondary data sources and the internet.
  • Successful track record of working with a variety of stake holders (internal and external) to resolve complex issues and create unique solutions.
  • Understanding of academic research setting, government regulations and sponsorship requirements and obligations.
  • Experience drafting and negotiating technology-based agreements including research collaboration and program related investment transactions.


  • Hands on experience in molecular biology applications, technology transfer, product development, clinical development, biotechnology/scientific instrumentation and reagent businesses and sales.
  • Experience negotiating and managing sponsored research and collaboration agreements.
  • Experience facilitating inventor start-up companies.



  • Masters degree in a life science or equivalent


  • PhD in a life science
  • Additional degrees in business or law



  • Understanding of academic technology transfer process. Working knowledge of intellectual property, patent law, and associated business practices.
  • Ability to synthesize technical knowledge and translate it into business opportunity.
  • Proven ability to regularly interact diplomatically with executives, faculty and clients and showcase ability to negotiate and influence senior leaders on matters of significance to the Institute.
  • Highly detail oriented with strong ability to understand constituent needs and lead teams toward a common goal and/or exerting influence across key functional areas.
  • Ability to motivate, develop and train staff.
  • Ability to envision and identify licensing opportunities, plus analytical skills to assess risks, drive potential collaborations and envision optimal deal structuring.
  • Professional and effective communication (oral and written) skills are essential as well as creativity and superior analytical, problem solving abilities.
  • Strong business acumen with a fundamental understanding of marketing and business development.
  • Strong leadership, business, technical, negotiation and contract-drafting skills.
  • High degree of self-reliance, flexibility and initiative combined with excellent marketing and business skills in order to effectively contribute to evolving work situations; result-driven orientation
  • Proven ability to establish contacts, develop relationships, and leverage those efforts in the development of mutually beneficial agreements.
  • Proven ability to make administrative and procedural decisions and judgments on sensitive, confidential issues;
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
  • Ability to self-motivate and work in an unstructured environment;
  • In-depth understanding of government granting processes, programs and regulations.
  • Understanding of steps required in venture start-up.


  • Understanding of molecular biology applications, product development, biotechnology/scientific instrumentation, pharma and reagent businesses and sales.


  • Must be willing to work in an animal-related research environment.
  • Satisfactory completion of the Institute's background investigation.
  • Must be willing to sign confidentiality agreement.


This position requires constant adjusting focus, grasping, hearing, keying, seeing, sitting, talking, analyzing, calculating, communicating, reading, reasoning, writing, and working inside. 

Application Details

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 Equal Opportunity Employer/Protected Veterans/Individuals with Disabilities


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