Washington Research Foundation

Director, Grant Programs

Company Description
Bioengineering. Cancer research. BioAg. Vaccines. Physical Sciences. These are just a few of the pursuits The Washington Research Foundation has supported since it was formed in 1981 to assist universities and other nonprofit research institutions in Washington state with the commercialization and licensing of their technologies. WRF is recognized as one of the foremost technology transfer and grant making organizations in the nation, providing more than $445 million in licensing revenue to the University of Washington and over $100 million in grants to the state’s research institutions to date.

WRF’s goal is the advancement of the most innovative academic research in Washington state, with a focus on life sciences and enabling technologies. Their priority is impact, concentrating their grants on research that addresses important needs in healthcare and other critical areas that will have positive outcomes in Washington and beyond. In addition, WRF’s investment arm, WRF Capital, has backed 98 companies, most of them UW spin outs, with approximately 60 successful exits. The returns from these investments support the Foundation’s grant programs.

The Washington Research Foundation is comprised of a small, close knit team of eight passionate peers working cohesively to identify the best and brightest innovations and bridge the
commercialization gap.

After a 25 year career with WRF, the Director of Grant Programs has announced her retirement at the end of June, and we are seeking a leader to assume her position.

Role overview
Reporting to the CEO, the Director of Grant Programs will have day to day and strategic responsibility for the deployment of WRF’s assets to achieve the mission of moving academic discoveries towards commercialization to benefit the public. In collaboration with the CEO and board members, the Director will set the priorities for WRF’s grant programs’ annual goals, strategies, and timing. As the lead of WRF’s grant programs, the Director will curate and grow the innovation ecosystem of researchers, academic administrators, scientific thought leaders, and business people.

Top Three Outcomes In Year 1

• Support innovators and their innovations in pursuit of commercialization in order to benefit the
greater good
• Build a network of potential innovators and peers who will provide visibility and open doors to the opportunities WRF may be interested in pursuing. Identify opportunities to proactively seek out projects and individuals pursuing WRF’s areas of interest. Establish similar relationships with key innovative university faculty within UW and WSU.
• Build out the process for evaluating the effectiveness of the grant programs.

Key Responsibilities
• Engage with Leadership, Board and staff to ensure that WRF’s $10+m in grants generates the greatest impact.
• Oversee the 4 person internal grants team in the triage, due diligence, and evaluation of grant proposals across a broad swath of disciplines
• Manage the workflow of 70+ grant proposals per year by queuing the most promising proposals and group discussion to arrive at an informed decision. Ensure the loop is closed on all grant
proposals received
• Identify opportunities for improvement. What should be challenged and shut down, or challenged and expanded?
• Communicate awards to recipients, monitor recipient progress and assess grant impact
• Coordinate with WRF finance and communications programs
• Collaborate with development staff at the research institutions and with individual donors and foundations to leverage WRF’s funding

Job Requirements
• Technical aptitude; an ability to understand enough to ask the right questions
• Experience leading a team in a collaborative environment (not hierarchical)
• Fundamental understanding of the use of patents and intellectual property
• Ability to understand scientific grant proposals and to communicate technical concepts and examples to a lay audience
• Knowledge of the commercialization path of academic innovations from lab bench to public use
• Experience assessing the viability of innovations to become commercialized
• Success in working with academic administrators, researchers, donors, consultants, and the general public
• Ability to mentor and train students, junior staff and interns
• Experience with grant writing, complex academic environments, and public speaking highly preferred
• PhD in biotech, technology or pharma highly preferred

Key Attributes
• A humble leader with backbone; not afraid to disagree, and not afraid to be disagreed with. Welcomes opposing viewpoints. Invites healthy discussion in order to arrive at the most informed decision
• Equally comfortable engaging in questions of strategy and digging into the specifics of a grant proposal
• Innate curiosity – the ability to ask the right questions, at the right time
• Comfort with ambiguity and uncertainty
• Engaging, straightforward and professional communication style

Seattle, WA