Science, Technology, and Innovation Director

  • Senior-level, Full-time staff position
  • Posted on 16 June 2020
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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:

The Science, Technology and Innovation Director is responsible for coordinating the Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) activities of the CAT. This includes facilitating partnership activities that leverage the CAT Centre; cultivating and engaging a network of agricultural researchers in Malawi and co-facilitate research-on-demand pipeline development and activity progress; and working closely with CAT local academic partners (MUST and LUANAR) on capacity building initiatives related to STI.

In order to deliver on the duties and responsibilities outlined below, the STI Director will work closely with the STI Technical Advisors, which includes experts from the University of Minnesota (UMN) and Stellenbosch University (SU), as well as other CAT team members based in Lilongwe such as the Executive Director, BIC Director, Portfolio Managers, Grants Manager and others. The STI Director will manage and be supported by an Agronomic Services Manager, who will take lead on coordinating field-based activities on CAT land.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Scope for relevant private sector firms/companies and assess them for possible involvement in demonstrating ag-production technologies (including seed, seedlings, agro-chemicals, etc.) on CAT hub demonstration plots
  • Support STI Technical Advisors in external partnership development.
  • Based on priority research areas, develop and maintain a knowledge repository of current and ongoing STI related projects, institutions and individuals within Malawi, and elsewhere, for use by CAT senior personnel in activity scoping and implementation
  • Manage ongoing, proactive relationships with all members of the CAT research network (e.g., DARS, MUST, LUANAR, ATI partners, etc.), to coordinate their seamless participation in relevant CAT research activities when opportunities arise.
  • Manage relationships with and technical assistance provision to MUST and LUANAR.
  • Lead development of use agreements for CAT mobile lab hosts and provide technical assistance to lab curators. Support lab network program development.
  • Lead incorporation of STI research results into BIC activities through updates and collaboration with the CAT BIC Director
  • Coordinate and manage local human capacity development opportunities
  • Coordinate selection and logistics of CAT Fellows based at Malawian and non-Malawian universities; these Fellows will supervise CAT Scholars.
  • Establish and maintain a support network of CAT Scholars (Masters and PhD scholarships) at Malawian and non-Malawian institutions
  • Coordinate logistics for visiting fellows and scholars to the CAT Centre.
  • Coordinate logistics and communications for STI workshops and academic short courses presented at the CAT Centre.
  • 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.
  • 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) is not required but will improve candidate suitability.
Only short-listed candidates will be contacted. No phone calls will be accepted. Land O’Lakes never requests money or payments from candidates for any position type. Please report any such requests to Land O’Lakes.

About the Organization

Land O’Lakes Venture37 is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit committed to helping communities around the world build economies by strengthening local agriculture, helping agribusinesses create jobs and linking farmers to markets. Since 1981, it has implemented over 315 integrated dairy, livestock and crops development programs in nearly 80 countries — creating lasting impact by linking farmers, businesses, and the public and private sector in local and global contexts. Land O’Lakes Venture37’s long-standing affiliation with Land O’Lakes, Inc. sets it apart. Land O’Lakes, Inc. is one of America’s largest farmer-owned cooperatives. It supports Land O’Lakes Venture37 project implementation with nearly 100 years of expertise in dairy, animal nutrition, crop inputs and agricultural insights and technologies. This gives Land O’Lakes Venture37 development projects a unique global view of agriculture, food and the power of well-functioning market systems. Land O’Lakes, Inc. supports these efforts as part of its enterprise purpose of Feeding Human Progress at home and around the world.

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