Executive Director, Industry Engagement and Business Development

Executive Director, Industry Engagement and Business Development

University of Massachusetts System

Massachusetts, USA   |   May 25, 2021

Executive Director, Industry Engagement and Business Development

The University of Massachusetts seeks a highly talented and motivated individual to develop and lead system-wide efforts as the Executive Director, Industry Engagement and Business Development, creating with this position a central Innovation and Business Engagement resource so that the university can pursue an active, integrated approach to business engagement, innovation & entrepreneurship and technology transfer that will yield greater benefit for the entire university system. Reporting to the System Chancellor of Academic Affairs and Senior Vice President of Economic Development, the Executive Director will work with each campus to create new opportunities to support campus-wide business engagement and innovation and entrepreneurship activities.

The Executive Director will introduce campus-based discoveries to vibrant local and regional business communities to support unique and joint campus research, innovation and entrepreneurship activities and build long-term relationships to support technology transfer, job creation, and economic growth.

The University Of Massachusetts President’s Office

The University of Massachusetts is a world-class public research university committed to advancing knowledge and transforming lives. The University of Massachusetts is world-renowned for its groundbreaking research, quality academic programs, innovative faculty, and culture of collaboration, the strength of its public mission, which have all led to the development of life-changing technologies impacting lives around the world.

The President’s Office, helmed by President Marty Meehan, provides overall leadership and financial management to the University and its five campuses, each with its own distinct but complementary mission. The System Office spearheads joint academic and financial initiatives, and provides shared services in the areas of information technology, treasury, and procurement among others, in order to drive maximum efficiency and effectiveness on behalf of our 75,000 students.  This office has more than 300 employees across two offices located in Boston and Shrewsbury.

U.S. News & World Report has ranked the University of Massachusetts as one of the best university systems in the country for three years running, with all four undergraduate campuses ranked top-tier national universities.  The Medical School is in the top 10 percent in the nation for primary care education, and the bar pass rate at the emerging UMass School of Law is now surpassed by only Harvard and Boston University in the state, soaring above 92 percent.

As a public research university, UMass has a dynamic relationship with the innovation economy of Massachusetts. With more than 300,000 graduates living and working in the state, UMass is the largest producer of the highly skilled workers that lead and fuel the state’s economy. In fact, UMass educates nearly three times as many Massachusetts residents as the top eight Massachusetts private universities combined, graduating more than 18,000 students each year.

The university’s enduring commitment to supporting the Massachusetts economy means that its academic programs and research are designed with the needs of Massachusetts industry and companies in mind.

Not only that, but research at UMass is conducted in the areas most critical to today’s companies, from applied life sciences, data science, and climate science to advanced manufacturing and financial technology, providing a strong undercurrent of academic support to the established and emerging industries in Massachusetts.

In addition to providing its students with a world-class education and conducting groundbreaking research, UMass generates billions of dollars for the Massachusetts economy, supporting more than 49,000 jobs each year in the state. As the second-largest employer in the state, UMass is a key thread in the cultural and economic fabric of Massachusetts.  In total, the university contributes more than $7.5 billion to the Massachusetts economy every single year, helping to ensure a brighter and stronger future for its citizens.

Driving Innovation

Home to many of the world’s leading scientific minds, UMass has a vibrant and dedicated community of faculty, researchers and students who develop world-changing technologies in diverse fields like engineering, life sciences, and health care. The university is committed to bringing these new ideas to life through patents and startup businesses based on inventions developed by students and faculty.

In 2019 alone, UMass researchers filed 206 invention disclosures, launched 7 start-up companies and executed 26 licensing deals. Faculty and researchers at UMass were awarded 73 patents, placing 37th in the world and third in New England.

At UMass, our students, faculty, and researchers all have access to the university’s incubators and centers, where teams of experts with vast knowledge in their disciplines can collaborate and provide hands-on experience testing innovations and creating start-ups in the fields of engineering, life sciences and technology. In 2019, UMass awarded almost a quarter of all life-sciences degrees conferred in the state, making the system the top producer of degree-holders in our region.

UMass Amherst

The UMass Innovation Institute was created to ensure that knowledge and technology developed at UMass Amherst rapidly and broadly move from campus labs into mainstream society. Being responsive, agile, flexible, and timely in dealing with sponsors, collaborators, faculty, and external stakeholders have enabled UMass Amherst to expand the impact of its research and contribute $2.5 billion to the economy in 2018. UMass Amherst’s Institute for Applied Life Sciences alone connects more than 200 research groups and faculty from 29 different departments. UMass’s strengths in applied life sciences are setting the stage for big impacts in medicine and materials tomorrow.  There are hundreds of possibilities, many pf which have life-transforming applications.

UMass Boston

With a focus on urban and global engagement, UMass Boston partners with local institutions, business leaders, and local, state, and federal governments to strengthen contributions to state, national and global cultural and economic development. The Venture Development Center (VDC) is a managed incubator for early-stage businesses, universities, student entrepreneurs, attracting more than $1 billion in investment to firms it has nurtured over the last decade. The VDC offers 18,000 square feet of state-of-the-art plug-and-play office, lab and meeting space, shared business services, and equipment. In addition, the development of a 22-acre waterside property adjacent to the campus, Dorchester Bay City, is expected to become a life science, research, and development hub providing many opportunities for linkage to UMB scientists.  The total economic impact UMass Boston created in 2018 was $1.2 billion.

UMass Dartmouth

Through the SouthCoast Development Partnership, UMass Dartmouth is helping to shape the blue economy across the region. The partnership’s focus is on expanding the commuter rail to the Suncoast, developing the waterfront in New Bedford and Fall River, developing renewable energy, and performing economic cluster analysis. Sustainability and climate resilience research is happening in labs and centers across the university.  Innovation in marine science and technology can inform best practices for the emerging offshore wind industry. Massachusetts has one of the top fishing ports in the country, and if sustainably managed, the aquaculture industry has great long term potential.  This is a topic of current research at UMass Dartmouth’s Massachusetts Marine Fisheries Institute. In 2018, UMass Dartmouth created a total economic impact of $549.7 million.

UMass Lowell

Research activity by faculty and students, especially in engineering and advanced manufacturing, is one of the major drivers of economic impact at UMass Lowell. The campus is renowned for state of the art research in nanomanufacture, printed electronics, advanced composites and textiles, and advanced additive manufacturing, As research expenditures continue to grow through a mix of grants, private funding, and university investment, the campus has developed a variety of partnerships that exchange knowledge and resources between the university and public, private, and non-profit sectors. These community-engaged activities include teaching, learning, service, and research, resulting in a total economic impact of $1.1 billion for 2018.

UMass Medical School

From providing flu shots to seniors and schoolchildren to promoting participation in the 2017 Greater Worcester Community Health Improvement Plan, the mission of UMass Medical School is to engage with the Greater Worcester and Central Massachusetts communities. The emergence of precision health a revolutionary moment, when medicine based on averages gives way to treatment tailored to each of us. Precision health is still in its infancy, but UMass has well-established and respected research efforts in many fields that are fundamental to the approach.  The system’s strengths in genomics, digital health, data science, community engagement and health equity, development of a precision health workforce are moving precision health forward. The total economic impact of this engagement for 2018 was $1.8 billion.  UMMS is home to Mass Biologics which produces FDA licensed therapeutics and manufactures bulk monoclonal antibodies, vectored therapeutics and aseptic fill finish.

Governance and Leadership

The University of Massachusetts is governed by:

  • A single Board of Trustees composed of 19 voting members and three non-voting members;
  • The President of the University of Massachusetts System, who oversees the five-campus system; and
  • Chancellors located at each campus.

The Academic Affairs and Economic Development organization, which includes Academic Affairs, Economic Development, Institutional Research, Student Affairs, International Relations, and Programs and Initiatives, supports the University’s mission by understanding and serving the academic affairs, student affairs, research, and institutional needs of the UMass academic community.

President Marty Meehan

Marty Meehan is the 27th president and first undergraduate alumnus to lead the five-campus University of Massachusetts system.

A former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, he was elected to the presidency after eight successful years as chancellor of his alma mater, UMass Lowell, during which he led the university to top-tier national status, improving its performance in every sphere of activity, including enrollment, student success, fundraising, and auxiliary revenue generation.

Under President Meehan’s leadership and with his support and advocacy, the UMass system has reached new heights and achieved historic milestones. UMass has a $670 million dollar research enterprise that produces life-changing discoveries and new startup companies, while keeping the state on the cutting edge of life sciences, robotics, advanced manufacturing, and many other fields.

In addition to his degree from UMass Lowell, President Meehan earned a master’s degree in public administration from Suffolk University in 1981 and a juris doctor from Suffolk University Law School in 1986.

Katherine Newman

Katherine Newman is the University of Massachusetts System Chancellor for Academic Programs, the Senior Vice President for Economic Development, and the Torrey Little Professor of Sociology at UMass Amherst.  She was previously the Interim Chancellor of UMass Boston, Senior Vice President of the University of Massachusetts system, the Provost of UMass Amherst and prior to that, the James B. Knapp Dean of the Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins University.  Newman is the author of fourteen books on topics ranging from technical education and apprenticeship, to the sociological study of the working poor in America’s urban centers, middle class economic insecurity under the brunt of recession, and school violence on a mass scale.  She has written extensively on the consequences of globalization for youth in Western Europe, Japan, South Africa, and the US, on the impact of regressive taxation on the poor, and on the history of American political opinion on the role of government intervention.

The Opportunity

Reporting to the System Chancellor for Academic Programs and Senior Vice Provost for Economic Development, this position will be visible across the five campuses and collaborate with the Chief Research Officers, other campus leaders, key staff for the campuses in certain areas, in addition to selected principal investigators. This is a unique opportunity for an entrepreneurial leader to build the capacity of the five campuses to increase the links for the promising research on each campus with industry partners.

Supporting federal and state investment in research and the facilities needed to conduct it is an important additional role.  Articulating the intersection between UMass research efforts and government priorities complements the main responsibility of increasing the interaction between industry and the university.   This position will focus on areas of intersection between government priorities, industry interests, and UMass research strengths.

The Executive Director will partner with inventors from across the university to translate academic discovery into products and services that benefit society.

  • Work with campus and external experts to evaluate promising technologies reported by faculty, staff, and students.
  • Work with campuses to market them to industry with the hope of finding one or more investors or companies interested in developing products based on the technology.
  • Support campus efforts to build on site collaborations that bring industry into university labs or nearby university research space.
  • Maintain relationships with the companies developing products based on the licensed technology.
  • Support and advise faculty in determining the optimal commercialization path.
  • Chair the University-wide committee on Conflict of Interest and the policy subcommittees that derive from it.

By engaging with entrepreneurs, corporate partners, mentors, and sponsors, UMASS teams leverage the strengths of both academia and industry to bridge the gap between early scientific discovery and its translation into new products.

Role Summary

The Executive Director, Industry Engagement & Business Development is the corporate business development lead for university research partnerships. The Executive Director will grow the UMASS portfolio of corporate research collaborations and will coordinate complex, large-scale university initiatives to optimize industry-academia collaboration. She/he will convene stakeholders and lead university activity responsible for cultivating industry partnerships to support commercialization of research and bring increased revenue to the University through sponsored research and licensing opportunities for faculty. The Executive Director sits on several internal and external committees and advisory boards whose goals are to develop best practices for the way UMASS does business with outside parties and to increase communication between teams engaged in these efforts.

We seek an energetic colleague who will support and enhance the efforts of our five campuses to develop collaborations with leading industries in the New England region, with a special focus on:

  • Life sciences, including precision medicine
  • Engineering and advanced manufacturing
  • Robotics and artificial intelligence
  • Data science
  • Sustainability and climate change mitigation
  • Civilian uses of defense-related technologies

The primary focus of the Executive Director of Industry Engagement will be to develop a system wide strategy for making maximally visible, the extraordinary, applied research innovations developing on our campuses, encouraging industry investment in research, tech transfer for commercialization, and opportunities for student placements.


Oversees the management and growth of the university’s portfolio of corporate research collaborations:

  • Develops business development strategy to secure research partnerships across UMASS areas of research excellence.
  • Through conferences, networking, direct meetings with university leadership, staff and faculty, corporate visits to campus, and other outreach strategies, build relationships with potential industry partners.
  • Develops and maintains knowledge of university research and further cultivates faculty and administrative relationships across the entity in order to identify appropriate research opportunities and partnerships.
  • Encourages and facilitates in collaboration with campus leadership industry visits to the UMASS campuses by companies, foundations and others interested in working with UMASS faculty; this includes careful analysis and engagement of faculty teams, briefing of University leadership, and other internal and external partners to foster these opportunities into large scale, long-term collaborations.
  • Oversees the execution of partnership agreements through coordination with other university entities.
  • Leads and continuously improves university policies in tech transfer, licensing, patenting, and conflict of interest.
  • Ensures a robust pipeline of investible research projects are presented to corporate partners.
  • Seeks to expand partnerships within existing partners and additional relationships.
  • Manages special university-wide projects that involve industry partners examples being the precision medicine initiative, cell therapy manufacturing center, and efforts to bring more discoveries into clinical trials.

Developed Skills:

  • Diplomatic skill and expertise in managing confidential and sensitive information in a public institution.
  • Demonstrated success building collaborative relationships in a decentralized, matrix management, multi-site academic environment.
  • Demonstrated leadership/managerial skills in a fast-paced, high-profile business development environment including university partners.
  • Outstanding interpersonal, organizational, communication, problem-solving and analytical skills.
  • Able to multi-task under deadline pressure.
Desired Experiences and Qualifications:
  • Graduate-level degree in a scientific, engineering, business field, or equivalent combination of education and experience. Terminal degree preferred.
  • Experience developing and/or supporting the Innovation and Entrepreneurship pipeline.
  • Experience in IP management, licensing and research agreements, industry collaborations, industry affiliate programs, material transfer agreements, and IP negotiation support in federal, state, foundation, and other non-profit awards.
  • Leadership experience working in the research enterprise and demonstrated familiarity with academic and/or project planning processes.
  • Demonstrated expertise in developing and managing strategic initiatives and translating vision and goals into implemented programs with metrics for assessment.
  • Demonstrated ability to effectively represent and coordinate organizational strategy and administrative initiatives with senior-level management and external entities.
  • Leadership experience working in the research enterprise and demonstrated familiarity with academic and/or project planning processes.
  • Track record of successful relationship-building with corporate entities.
  • Expert strategic planning, financial, management and leadership skills.
  • Expert knowledge of research enterprise as it relates to intellectual property/patent/ licensing technology and innovation.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills to develop high-level strategic planning documents, reports, position papers and deliver oral presentations that effectively communicate needs, campus positions and engage stakeholders regarding campus energy initiatives and priorities.
  • Expert understanding of applicable laws/policies/principles for intellectual property/technology transfer/commercialization, economic development, private-public partnerships and has excellent connections to further these initiatives.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Thorough knowledge of the organizational environment of higher education at a large research university.
  • Leadership experience in institutions of higher education and demonstrated familiarity with academic planning processes.
  • Expert knowledge of research enterprise in an academic institution as it relates to intellectual property/patent / licensing technology and innovation

The University of Massachusetts provides a competitive compensation and benefits package appropriate for this position’s scope, stature, and level of responsibility.


Managing Directors, Beth Schaefer, and Matthew Vossler of the Diversified Search Group have been exclusively retained for this search. To express your interest in or recommendations for this role please submit materials here. All inquiries and discussions will be considered confidential.

It is the mission of the University of Massachusetts to attract, retain and develop a diverse workforce and to foster a positive work environment that emphasizes excellence, professionalism, development, diversity, and respect. Our mission is “to provide an affordable and accessible education of high quality and to conduct programs of research and public service that advance knowledge and improve the lives of the people of the Commonwealth, the nation and the world.”  The University of Massachusetts is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action, Title IX employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, sex, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, age over 40, protected veteran status, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, marital status, or other protected class.

Search Team

Matthew Vossler
Managing Director
[email protected]

Beth Schaefer
Managing Director
[email protected]

Carrie Baker
Vice President of Search Operations & Quality
[email protected]

Executive Assistant
Erin Fadden
[email protected]