Science Technology and Innovation Director

  • Senior-level, Full-time staff position
  • Posted on 25 October 2019

Job Description

Project Description:

Land O’Lakes Venture37 (V37), the University of Minnesota (UMN), Stellenbosch University (SU), and Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST) have forged an innovative partnership to establish the Centre for Agricultural Transformation (CAT) as the central hub to catalyze Malawi’s agricultural growth. CAT is the flagship project of the Agricultural Transformation Initiative (ATI) funded by the Foundation for a Smoke Free World (FSFW). By leveraging our core partners’ scientific, technological and agribusiness expertise and deep regional connections, the CAT will forge integrated research-to-impact pathways that reduce productivity gaps between men and women and foster diversified, resilient and healthy smallholder households, particularly those transitioning from tobacco farming to alternative livelihoods. In essence the CAT project objective is to increase the prosperity of Malawian smallholder farmers in a world with a declining tobacco demand by accelerating their diversification into the production of alternative crops with similar opportunities for food and financial security.

The CAT will be a world class hub for creating, piloting, and scaling appropriate science, technology, and business models that will transform smallholder tobacco farmers’ lives and Malawi’s agriculture sector in general. This centre of excellence aims to uniquely combine research, smallholder farming, and large-scale commercialization in a manner that facilitates transformational agricultural development in Malawi. We envision the CAT as an anchor institution in the global ag-tech innovation ecosystem, where reimagination, experimentation, and refinement of new ideas take place through the intermingling of cutting-edge research and development (R&D), market research, evidence-based decision making, new business models and product pilots, and entrepreneurs.

CAT activities will drive and accelerate the transformation of Malawi’s agricultural economy and foster farmers who are prosperous, resilient, diversified, and food secure. By the end of 2023, we will establish the systems and infrastructure to scale CAT activities both within Malawi and regionally, setting a strong foundation for future growth.

Position Summary:

To maximize the potential impact of the CAT, all activities must be aligned toward addressing specific challenges within a set of priority value chains. The Science, Technology and Innovation Director is responsible for coordinating the Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) activities of the CAT directed at addressing specific challenges as necessitated by the priority value chains identified. The results of these STI activities will feed into CAT Business Incubation and Commercialization (BIC) activities, may necessitate further research and/or would require engagement with policymakers and/or other implementing stakeholders.

In order to deliver on the duties and responsibilities outlined below, the STI Director will work closely with the implementing-consortium’s STI Team, which includes experts from the University of Minnesota (UMN), Stellenbosch University (SU), and Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST), as well as other CAT team members based in Lilongwe such as the Executive Director, BIC Director, Portfolio Managers, Grants Manager and others.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Scoping, coordinating and tracking STI-related research activities
    • Working closely with the CAT Executive Director and UMN, SU and MUST senior project personnel to identify and scope STI activities of relevance for the CAT
    • Based on priority research areas, developing and maintaining a knowledge repository of current and ongoing STI related projects, institutions, and individuals within Malawi, and elsewhere, for use by CAT (and ATI) senior personnel in activity scoping and implementation
    • Managing ongoing, proactive relationships with all members of the CAT research network (e.g., DARS, MUST, LUANAR, ATI partners, etc.), to facilitate their seamless participation in relevant CAT research activities when opportunities arise
    • Liaising with principal investigators (PIs) of CAT STI projects to track and manage progress on locally (and, as required, externally) executed research
  • Support development of MOUs for CAT mobile lab hosts and provide technical assistance to lab curators
  • Drafting of CAT-issued RFPs and facilitating the screening of applications by the CAT STI Advisory Committee for selection and grant-making process
  • Pursuing and managing STI research funded through external RFPs
    • Identifying potential opportunities for externally funded research that aligns with the CAT objectives
    • Forming and coordinating the appropriate teams (i.e., individuals and institutions) to respond to external RFPs
    • Leading and/or coordinating writing of RFP submissions
  • Disseminating the results of CAT STI research activities
    • Supporting incorporation of STI research results into BIC activities through updates and collaboration with the CAT BIC Director
    • Preparing and distributing a range of STI communications products
  • Coordinating and managing local human capacity development opportunities
    • Coordinating selection and logistics of CAT Fellows based at Malawian and non-Malawian universities; these Fellows will supervise CAT scholars
    • Establishing and maintaining a support network of CAT scholars (Masters and PhD scholarships) at Malawian and non-Malawian institutions
    • Coordinating logistics for visiting fellows and scholars to the CAT
    • Coordinating logistics and communications for STI workshops and academic short courses presented at the CAT
  • Supporting broader CAT activities to ensure integration of STI with BIC and DRAM components
    • Attending and participating in appropriate local meetings
    • Proactively communicating progress on the assessment of research opportunities and ongoing research activities.
  • Performing additional duties as assigned

Required Skills and Qualifications:

  • A Master’s Degree in an agriculture related field. PhD holders in an agriculture related field shall have an added advantage.
  • A minimum of 10 years’ relevant experience in Malawi/SADC region, with a good understanding of academia, the public and private sector.
  • Demonstrated experience and sound understanding of science, technology and innovation – including the application of science, research and development to business and commercial activities.
  • A strong science background together with a broad knowledge base to support the diverse nature of CAT STI activities.
  • Knowledge of and experience in developing and implementing fee-for-use business models.
  • Excellent organizational skills and ability to establish and maintain strategic partnerships, functional networks and productive relations between individuals, stakeholders and institutions.
  • Strong inter-personal skills, self-motivated and result-driven, with a proactive approach to work.
  • Highly developed conceptual, analytical and innovative problem-solving ability.
  • Demonstrated experience in grant writing and preparation.
  • Good command of English, spoken and written. Command of Chichewa (spoken and written) preferred but will improve candidate suitability.
  • Local candidates strongly encouraged to apply.

Only short-listed candidates will be contacted. No phone calls will be accepted.

Land O’Lakes never requests money or payment from candidates for any position type. Please report any such requests to Land O’Lakes.

About the Organization

Since 1981, Land O’Lakes Venture37 has applied an integrated approach to international economic development that capitalizes on Land O'Lakes, Inc.'s nearly 100 years as a leading farm-to-market agribusiness. We use our practical experience and in-depth knowledge to facilitate market-driven business solutions that generate economic growth, improve health and nutrition, and alleviate poverty. We believe in the value of people and ensuring our work is rooted in honesty, integrity and respect.

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, our vision is to be a global leader in transforming lives by engaging in agriculture and enterprise partnerships that replace poverty with prosperity, and dependency with self-reliance. Since our inception, we have implemented nearly 300 programs and training initiatives in over 80 countries, which have enabled farmers and agribusinesses to become more profitable and to leverage economies of scale through well-functioning cooperatives and producer groups.

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