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The University of Michigan has retained Isaacson Miller, a national executive search firm, to assist in this important search. All inquiries, applications and nominations should be directed to Isaacson Miller at:  Please note that applications must also be submitted via the University of Michigan job posting website:


Job Summary

The University of Michigan seeks nominations and applications for the position of Associate Vice President for Research - Tech Transfer and Innovation Partnerships. Operating within the University of Michigan Office of Research, the Associate Vice President (AVP) is responsible for leadership in innovation and tech transfer activities in support of the educational and research mission of the University. The AVP reports to the Vice President for Research and works closely with leadership across the University, as well as with regional, national, and global external partners.

About the University of Michigan

The University of Michigan is one of the leading public research universities in the nation and the world. Its mission supports excellence in research, provides outstanding education, and demonstrates commitment to public service and engagement. Michigan’s position of excellence in higher education rests on the outstanding scholarly and creative contributions of its faculty and on the intellectual quality, vitality, and passion of its students — undergraduate, graduate, and professional. The University sustains top programs in the arts and humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and engineering, and is the home of one of the largest academic medical centers in the world. The main campus is located in Ann Arbor, 35 miles west of Detroit, with regional campuses located in Dearborn and Flint. Today, the University has one of the largest alumni networks, with nearly 600,000 living alumni around the globe.

Research across the University addresses a large range of globally relevant issues. By extending fundamental understandings and advancing technological innovations, University researchers contribute to remarkable advances that are transforming life and contributing to building the economy of the state, region, and nation. Research expenditures continue to grow, reaching a record high of $1.39 billion in the last fiscal year—with over $85 million coming from industry. The Office of Research oversees and facilitates the research enterprise across the Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses (2016 annual report here). Major impacts across the campuses include the facilitation of major interdisciplinary research initiatives in the support of faculty research and scholarship, the development of policies to guide the conduct of research on campus, and a service-oriented administrative infrastructure to serve the faculty and staff involved in research.

Sustaining and supporting the University’s robust research enterprise is vital for maximizing innovation and economic development. As a service and resource for innovative investigators interested in commercialization of research, the Office of Technology Transfer (OTT) is a unit of the Office of Research that plays a central role in helping to ensure that society realizes the benefits of the research conducted on campus (OTT’s 2016 annual report here). In FY 2016, U-M researchers submitted 428 new inventions and 135 patents were issued. In addition, the office negotiated a record 173 license/option agreements last year with both new and existing companies. OTT’s Venture Center brings together talent, funding, and other resources to help launch startup companies based on intellectual property developed at U-M, resulting in 65 new startups over the last five years. Total revenue from OTT for the last two years combined was over $100 million, largely due to a royalty monetization. The University as a whole engages with industry globally, nationally, and within Southeast Michigan—routinely rated as one of the most innovative regions in the US. These results and our innovative programs and people have earned OTT a reputation as one of the top ten tech transfer offices in the country.

The broader university-wide innovation ecosystem includes programs located centrally as well as at the school/unit levels.  In addition to Tech Transfer, other central services include Innovate Blue—the University’s hub for entrepreneurship and innovation—along with the Business Engagement Center (BEC) and the Institute for Research on Labor, Employment, and the Economy (IRLEE). BEC promotes innovation by connecting faculty with industry and other organizations to form meaningful collaborations. IRLEE leads economic, industry, advanced manufacturing, and jobs forecasting and transforms these insights into programs that provide assistance, support, and intervention to businesses and communities.

Several schools and colleges also have strong research and education activities around innovation, entrepreneurship, and/or economic development, including Fast Forward Medical Innovation (FFMI) in the Medical School, the Center for Entrepreneurship (CFE) in the College of Engineering, and the Zell Lurie Institute (ZLI) in the Ross School of Business. Regionally, the University engages with stakeholders such as Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), Ann Arbor SPARK, and many others.  The University of Michigan also hosts a National Science Foundation I-Corps node and was recently awarded the Midwest I-Corps Node in alliance with several universities in the Midwest.

About the position

The Associate Vice President will provide strategic and visionary leadership of the University’s tech transfer organization and its activities, and develop key innovation partnerships both internally and externally. Primary responsibilities include:

Leadership of the Office of Tech Transfer

  • Oversee planning, management, and performance of the Office of Tech Transfer (OTT), providing day-to-day oversight of the business, legal and operational decisions and practices that impact the University’s risk management, reputation and integrity

  • Lead and support OTT as a key service and resource for innovative investigators interested in commercialization of their research

  • Serve as leader and mentor, including a focus on career development, for a highly productive professional staff in tech transfer

  • Manage policies and practices to assess, protect and commercialize the discoveries and inventions from University research

  • Develop agreements involving University intellectual property, and provide guidance for intellectual property and researcher engagement issues in other university agreements and policies

  • Negotiate and manage equity positions in agreements involving University startups

  • Enforce compliance of licensing agreements, as well as potential legal enforcement of University patent rights, each of which involves assessment and management of the associated risks

Internal partnerships and collaboration

  • Work with University leadership to develop and realize a vision for innovation and technology commercialization

  • Partner with other campus programs to provide support and coordination across the innovation ecosystem

  • Promote the value of tech transfer and engagement with business, venture and government partners among faculty, students and university groups to broaden the University’s impact on society

  • Assist the Vice President for Research with possible oversight of related innovation and engagement university units

External partnerships and collaboration

  • Demonstrate leadership among the national and international tech transfer community to maintain U-M’s reputation for innovation, creativity, integrity and performance

  • Engage with business, venture, and government communities regionally and nationally

  • Work collaboratively with other key University stakeholders when engaging with external partners


The University of Michigan offers an attractive compensation and benefits package, commensurate with the successful candidate’s background and experience.

Required Qualifications*

The candidate should have a record of strong vision and leadership and a deep understanding of tech transfer. The ideal candidate should have several years of experience in ideally both university and business settings, including leadership involving innovation, tech transfer and/or the licensing of intellectual property. S/he should have a strong understanding of evolving issues related to intellectual property, patenting, and venture capital, as well as research across industry and academia. Furthermore, s/he should have a strong track record in the recruitment, development and retention of large teams of business and/or university intellectual property professionals, as well as in creating strong collaborations among multiple partners within and outside an organization, and a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion. The ideal candidate should have a track record of working with researchers and prospective business/venture partners and building pro-active, results-oriented teams.

Other qualities of the ideal candidate include:

  • B.S. or equivalent, with a preference for an advanced degree in business, law and/or a technical field;

  • Exceptional relationship-building skills, both internally and with external partners;

  • Ability to cultivate partnerships across a large institution, working with faculty, staff, and other researchers across a wide spectrum of research disciplines;

  • Exemplary communications skills;

  • Vision and tact to set priorities, to make difficult and controversial decisions, and to handle delicate personnel and personality conflicts;

  • Demonstrated track record in fostering diversity, inclusion and teamwork;

  • Ability to delegate, motivate, collaborate, and support the abilities of others;

  • Altruism — taking joy in bringing value to others’ work;

  • Business acumen and risk taking;

  • Highly creative and innovative thinker;

  • An active, energetic and well-organized personality, with a sense of humor and collegiality,

  • An appreciation of the culture and history of a large public research university, and the University of Michigan in particular

Additional Information

This position requires Regental approval.

Application Deadline

Job openings are posted for a minimum of seven calendar days. This job may be removed from posting boards and filled anytime after the minimum posting period has ended.

U-M EEO/AA Statement

The University of Michigan is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.