Director, Office of Innovation and Commercialization

Job Description


Employer: University of Hawaii – VP of Research and Innovation

Job Title: Director, Office of Innovation and Comercialization / Chief Innovation Officer

Location: Manoa Campus in Honolulu, Hawaii

Hours: Full-Time

Start Date: Immediate

Term: Permanent Position

Compensation: Commensurate with education and work experience


Employer Overview:

The UH system is composed of a flagship research university, two baccalaureate campuses, and seven community colleges, conferring associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. UH also serves Hawai‘i through university and education centers and research facilities across six Hawaiian Islands. UH carries out its mission through more than 9,000 faculty and staff; serves over 60,000 students; currently secures $400 – $500 million per year in extramural funding with aggressive growth plans; and contributes over $3 billion to the State of Hawai‘i’s economy.

The Office of Innovation and Commercialization (OIC) aspires to be a leading Asia-Pacific technology commercialization office, promoting innovation at UH and transferring its research discoveries to industry for the benefit of humanity. OIC’s mission is to help UH researchers, staff and students identify, protect, and commercialize innovative intellectual property; to foster innovation through startup accelerators, seed funding, and other entrepreneurship programs; and to improve UH researchers’ access tostrategic grants. In addition, OIC is committed to developing and fostering long-term public-private partnerships through sponsored research, corporate alliances, and other opportunities for collaboration.

Position Overview:

75% – Promoting and building capacity in intellectual property protection, technology commercialization and venture creation:

  • Acts as a catalyst and facilitator for the identification, sharing, and commercialization of innovative technology and intellectual property created through UH’s research and development activities. Champion for expanding awareness of the importance of technology sharing, and key resource for researchers to understand the best ways to successfully share and commercialize their innovations.
  • Establishes processes to regularly review UH research activities to identify promising technology and intellectual property with potential for commercial application and startup formation. Assembles appropriate advisory boards and technology evaluation panels consisting of faculty and private sector experts to maximize the effectiveness of the reviews and promote collaboration and innovation.
  • Executes patenting, marketing, and licensing of high-potential UH discoveries, supports the development of startup companies and funding sources for them, and implements additional strategies to commercialize UH’s intellectual property assets.
  • Builds and maintains strong relationships with faculty, staff, and students and facilitates collaboration between researchers and academic units.
  • Develops relationships with industry, entrepreneurs, potential licensees and partners, investors, and business, government, and community leaders. Supports the establishment of corporate alliances, sponsored research, and grant funding opportunities that are consistent with UH’s mission and overall research priorities.
  • Integrates OIC activities with other UH efforts to promote its research and technology expertise and discoveries to the private sector. Supports XLR8UH and the development of additional startup and entrepreneurship resources, including seed funding. Coordinates participation in and collaboration with economic development programs of the private sector and government agencies, including for proof-of-concept centers and business incubation and accelerator programs.
  • Actively collaborates with management and faculty leadership on all UH campuses as appropriate to assist in the development of individual campus cultures to facilitate innovation and commercialization.
  • Works with the leadership of UH, UH Board of Regents, appropriate Hawai‘i community entities, and Hawai‘i state government leadership to propose amendments to UH policies governing technology commercialization and intellectual property to better align those policies with national norms.

25% – Administrative Leadership and Management

  • Plans, coordinate, and develop policies and programs; and is responsible for the overall administration of OIC, including but not limited to implementing policies and programs and handling personnel, budgeting, reporting, and other administrative matters assigned to OIC.
  • Builds a high-performing, collaborative team that delivers superior customer service to UH personnel. Develops or recruits the critical skills necessary to fulfill OIC’s responsibilities. Serves as a mentor to less experienced team members.
  • Develops and maintains a set of appropriate U.S. peer programs and associated metrics. Based upon these, establishes appropriate performance goals and benchmarks for UH technology commercialization development and technology transfer programs and works with the Vice President for Research and Innovation to ensure they are met.
  • Provides the UH System with an annual report containing a “cost-benefit” analysis of program efforts and recommendations for improvements as needed.
  • With the assistance of individual UH campus leadership, establishes and maintains mechanisms for working with faculty, staff, and students on the campuses to promote and execute all aspects of OIC’s mission.
  • Performs other related duties as assigned in support of the goals and purposes of the University of Hawai‘i.

Minimum Qualifications

  • An earned master’s degree from an accredited university in the areas of life sciences, physical sciences, engineering, or a related discipline.
  • At least seven (7) years of experience in a senior/managerial position in a large, complex public institution or private sector company dealing with development, marketing, and licensing of proprietary technology products/services.
  • Demonstrated ability to comprehend scientific and technical systems as well as business needs. Track record of creativity, flexibility, and initiative in planning, launching, and executing projects and products for commercial markets.
  • Knowledge of intellectual property rights and protection.
  • Knowledge of federal grant programs and funding sources for innovative research and new ventures, including angel investors, venture capital, and philanthropy.
  • Knowledge of federal, state, and higher education institutional rules and regulations.
  • Demonstrated ability to build a team and to work well with faculty, administrative leadership, staff, and students. Ability to handle sensitive situations and to manage conflict effectively. Exceptional ability to foster relationships with external parties, including a range of government, business, and community organizations and representatives.
  • Demonstrated ability to communicate effectively – to present ideas, both in writing and orally, in an understandable,non-technical manner, with internal and external constituencies. Ability to articulate a vision for UH’s role in research, innovation, commercialization, job creation, and economic development.
  • Well-developed conceptual and analytical skills, including the ability to identify a problem, develop a solution, and execute corrective action, either in cooperation with others or independently.
  • Demonstrated ability to establish effective new organizational processes and to improve ineffective processes, gaining organizational acceptance through basic change management skills.
  • Ability to function successfully in a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic environment.

Desired Qualifications

  • An earned doctorate or equivalent terminal degree (e.g., Ph.D., M.D.) in the areas of life sciences, physical sciences, engineering, or a related discipline.
  • Familiarity with UH and its major research units and programs; hands-on experience in the areas of grant-writing, public relations, and media relations in Hawai‘i.
  • Experience as a leader/manager at a major university or other research organization.
  • Experience in the development and administration of technology transfer and commercialization programs.
  • Understanding of business and government practices in Hawai‘i, nationally, and in the international arena.
  • Strong knowledge of Hawai‘i’s emerging high technology and non-tourism industry sectors and ability to identify/analyze opportunities where UH research can support Hawai‘i’s economic development.
To Apply: 

Nominations, inquiries and applications are being accepted for the position. Review of applications will begin on March 9, 2017 and will continue until the position is filled. For best consideration, applications should be submitted by March 9, 2017. Candidates must submit a cover letter summarizing the candidate’s interest and qualifications for the position, a current curriculum vitae, and the names of five (5) professional references, including title and contact information. To view search information, go to: References will not be contacted without prior notice to candidate. A background check will be made prior to employment.


  • University of Hawaii
  • Office of the VP for Research and Innovation
  • 2425 Campus Road, Sinclair 10
  • Attn: Human Resources
  • Honolulu, HI 96822


Michelle Isa-Atta; 808-956-5006;

The University of Hawaiʻi is an equal opportunity/affirmative action institution and is committed to a policy of nondiscrimination on the basis of race, sex, gender identity and expression, age, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, citizenship, disability, genetic information, marital status, breastfeeding, income assignment for child support, arrest and court record (except as permissible under State law), sexual orientation, domestic or sexual violence victim status, national guard absence, or status as a covered veteran.

Employment is contingent on satisfying employment eligibility verification requirements of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986; reference checks of previous employers; and for certain positions, criminal history record checks.

In accordance with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, annual campus crime statistics for the University of Hawaii may be viewed at:, or a paper copy may be obtained upon request from the respective UH Campus Security or Administrative Services Office.