Associate Director, Technology Transfer and Commercialization – MSU Technologies, Michigan State University

Please note: this job has already been filled by Gardner Innovation Search Partners.

As higher education is called upon to meet new and significant challenges facing a global society, MSU is positioned to lead the way by doing what they have always done exceptionally well; putting knowledge and research discoveries to work to make life better.

By integrating innovation, technology transfer, support for start-ups and partnerships with businesses and communities, MSU brings pathbreaking ideas to the marketplace as rapidly as possible in order to improve the quality of life in communities near and far and to help Michigan and the United States compete in a global environment.

Join them as they innovate, inspire and empower to create sustainable prosperity for the common good.

Michigan State has a research budget of $700 million. Read the 2021 Annual Report here.

Associate Director – MSU Technologies Duties & Responsibilities:

Michigan State University is seeking its Associate Director of MSU Technologies (MSUT) to join the tech transfer team to lead commercialization of university technologies.

The successful candidate is able to easily move between the high-level view of academic commercialization culture and strategy and the careful attention to details required in licensing and other intellectual property agreements. MSU is seeking someone who strives to be a catalyst for excitement around technology commercialization at MSU, building on the forward momentum already achieved.

This position actively partners with MSUT’s Executive Director and the Innovation Center management team to advance the goals of corporate engagement, technology transfer and commercialization and economic development. The local entrepreneurial ecosystem provides many opportunities to develop unique partnerships with industry and to encourage startup formation.

With responsibility for the stewardship of MSU’s intellectual property assets, the Associate Director must be comfortable with a broad range of technology sectors, including copyrighted works, as well as leading the assessment, marketing, and licensing activities of MSUT’s Technology Managers.

Under the general direction of and reporting to the Executive Director of MSUT, this position is responsible for the day-to-day management of technology commercialization operations and programs. The Associate Director partners with the Executive Director to set the goals, direction and expectations of the office as well as identifying and meeting stakeholder expectations.

Key responsibilities will include but not be limited to the following:

Technology Transfer Efforts – 40%

  • Efficiently manage the day-to-day technology licensing and commercialization operations of the department.
  • Supervise the negotiation, drafting and implementation of all option, license, and other technology agreements. With the MSU Office of the General Counsel (OGC), revise template agreements based on current licensing practices and changes in the law.
  • Provide guidance and direction to Technology Managers and staff on creating marketing and licensing strategies that maximize technology commercialization potential and impact.
  • Mentor and develop Technology Managers and staff to grow the high performing, stimulating and enjoyable work culture. Implement new strategies (in the post-COVID, hybrid work environment) to engage faculty to foster awareness and increase the number of faculty engagements with the office.
  • Coordinate and supervise the development and improvement of MSUT infrastructure, template agreements, policy, procedures, and systems.
  • Lead the development and implementation of an invigorated marketing strategy, including both active marketing and web-based marketing; investigate and engage third-party resources (collaborate with Business-CONNECT to identify those beneficial to both offices); build opportunities for students to participate in marketing MSU inventions.
  • Establish, implement, and continually monitor technology commercialization procedures to ensure the effective and efficient management and operation of the unit and compliance with all policies.
  • Oversee distribution of technology portfolios to Technology Managers and oversee the workload of the team necessary to meet technology commercialization targets.

Leadership – 30%

  • Develop and recommend policy and provide high-level advice and guidance to the Executive Director to advance the commercialization of MSU technologies.
  • As guided by MSU’s recent Strategic Plan, assist in the development and execution of MSUT’s five-year strategic plan, and in the preparation of the annual operating plan and budget.
  • Establish and monitor metrics which reflect all aspects of MSUT’s responsibilities and activities. Identify areas for improvement and implement new strategies and programs to meet its goals and objectives.
  • Expand efforts to develop a diverse office team, with attention to DEI matters. Partner with various student groups within MSU to attract diverse student employees, with the goal of providing opportunities to diversify the pool of technology transfer professionals.

Startup and entrepreneurship initiatives – 15%

  • Collaborate with Spartan Innovations and MSU Foundation staff to facilitate startup companies. Continue to fine tune the collaboration with Spartan Innovations to accelerate the identification of startup-potential inventions; co-develop programs to clearly guide startup assessment, creation, and business agreement execution.
  • Support Burgess Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation; identify opportunities to assist Burgess colleagues in student entrepreneurship.
  • Collaborate with external economic development partners, including the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and LEAP (Lansing Economic Area Partnership) to grow local entrepreneurship opportunities.

Research Funding, Corporate Development, General Counsel – 15%

  • Collaborate with Business-CONNECT, the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) and the Office of the General Counsel (OGC) on matters related to MSU intellectual property policies.
  • Provide support to Business-CONNECT and OSP on intellectual property terms of research agreements, balancing MSU policies and the positions of funding organizations to reach mutually beneficial outcomes.
  • Grow collaboration with Business-CONNECT with an emphasis on the role of MSU Technologies in developing a robust corporate relationship strategy.
  • Engage OGC in the negotiation of complex agreements, policy issues and patent matters.

Salary: A salary in the range of $170-190,000, commensurate with experience will be offered, as well as a comprehensive benefits package including relocation allowance.


The ideal candidate will possess the following skills and educational training:

  • A high degree of energy, enthusiasm, and dedication to transferring technology for public benefit.
  • Ability to collaborate with internal offices and third parties, including other academic institutions and industry.
  • Leadership experience in academic technology transfer or experience in corporate business development. 5-10 years of licensing experience, with a preference for an in-depth understanding of and experience in a research university environment.
  • Strong interpersonal skills along with the ability and desire to develop and lead the licensing team. Ability to efficiently and effectively mentor and guide a significant number of direct reports.  Sets clear expectations and holds direct reports accountable for performance.
  • Experience in supporting and growing professional development of technology transfer staff.
  • Deep understanding of the academic research environment, including the various stakeholders of an academic technology transfer office.
  • Bachelor’s degree in science or engineering is required and an advanced degree is preferred.
  • Excellent working knowledge of laws and business practices related to university technology transfer.

Here is the Michigan State University Associate Director, Technology Transfer & Commercialization – MSU Technologies full position specification with further details.

Associate Director – MSU Technologies Applicants

Michigan State University has exclusively retained Gardner Innovation Search Partners to manage this search. Gardner Innovation Search Partners is the top technology transfer recruiter in the world, and is committed to presenting a diverse slate of candidates who possess the skills, expertise, and enthusiasm to thrive in this role.

Interested applicants should send their resume, a non-confidential deal sheet, and any questions to:

Lisa Rooney, Recruiter  


Glen Gardner, Recruiter  


Dave Winwood, Recruiter  


Gardner Innovation Search Partners is committed to diversity in both people and ideas. Read more about our commitment to diversity and inclusion here:

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.

Candidates must have the capacity to comply with federally mandated requirements of U.S. export control laws.

Michigan State University is requiring all MSU students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 with limited exceptions. Learn more at:

About East Lansing, MI

East Lansing is known for its tree-lined residential neighborhoods, exceptional city services and amenities, abundant arts and cultural offerings, vibrant downtown, and diverse population. Michigan State University is at the heart of East Lansing, and downtown hosts several events each year, including an Arts Festival and Farmer’s Market. Read more about East Lansing at

MSU Colleagues live in a variety of communities surrounding the East Lansing campus, notably including Lansing, East Lansing, Okemos, Williamston, Grand Ledge, Dewitt, and Holt.  Collectively, these communities provide a wide array of affordable and accessible living situations, from downtown lifestyles to rural acreage, all within a short distance of campus with uncomplicated commuting.