Job Opportunities

Associate Vice President of Innovation

Apply Now Job no: 520628
Work type: Management (MPP)
Location: San Diego
Categories: MPP, At-Will, Full Time, Research

Position Information

San Diego State University is a place of knowledge, experience, and impact and takes pride in more than 125 years of achievement in education, research, and service.  It is one of the oldest institutions in California, with 400,000+ living alumni and many more friends in the community who have a stake in its future. SDSU is expanding its global impact, unifying the university through a common mission and identity. Under a single name, the multi-campus university includes the San Diego campus, SDSU Imperial Valley, SDSU Georgia (Republic of Georgia), and the once-in-a-generation development of SDSU Mission Valley and other programs around the globe and online.

San Diego State University is the flagship research institution of the 23-campus California State University (CSU) system and one of the top 72 public universities in the United States, according to U.S. News and World Report and is designated as a Minority-Serving Institution (MSI), Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) and an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution (AANAPISI). SDSU offers 23 doctoral programs, over 90 master’s degree programs and over 60 post-baccalaureate advanced certificate and credential programs. With SDSU researchers securing $164.5 million in grants and contracts last year, the university is currently designated as a doctoral university with high research activity (R2) by the Carnegie Foundation, on the cusp of becoming a “doctoral/very high research activity” (R1) institution in the near future. San Diego has long been a hub of innovation on many levels: biomedical sciences, military defense, public health, engineering, water science, climate change, social policy, social sciences, creative activity within the humanities and more. Guided by SDSU’s mission and new strategic plan that centers on weaving equity and inclusion into everything the university does, students pursue real-world challenges under the guidance of internationally recognized mentors in cutting-edge labs, entrepreneurship centers and business incubators.

Research and innovation are integral to SDSU’s future.  The university's strategic plan calls on SDSU to become an R1, premier public research university.  SDSU's Mission Valley campus will include a state-of-the-art Innovation District that facilitates meaningful collaboration between our scientists and facilitates public and private partners.  To achieve this long-term institutional goal, SDSU is committed to developing infrastructure and resources that allow research activity to grow while continuing to support excellence in teaching.

The Division of Research and Innovation (DRI) is the central university office with oversight of SDSU Research Foundation, and the following units: Research Operations, Research Advancement, Research Support Services, Innovation including Technology Transfer and the ZIP Launchpad, Research Communications, Undergraduate Research, and a specialized IT unit. The leader of the unit is the Vice President for Research and Innovation. As the chief research officer for SDSU, the VPRI is responsible for institutional approval of all grant and contract proposals relating to sponsored research, instruction and service agreements as well as developing partnerships for the Innovation District as part of the SDSU Mission Valley Development.

Reporting to the Vice President for Research and Innovation, the Associate Vice President for Innovation (AVPI) will work closely with the Vice President and university leadership to both strategize and execute the engagement of the SDSU innovation ecosystem.  The AVPI will provide leadership and programmatic oversight of commercialization and technology transfer activities, and entrepreneurial support for faculty, students, and staff.  They will also support internal and external strategic partnerships in furtherance of research, innovation, and the development of the SDSU Mission Valley Innovation District. The AVPI will serve as the principal for innovation and entrepreneurship at SDSU.  The AVPI’s portfolio will include the Office of Technology Transfer and the Zahn Innovation Platform Launchpad (ZIP Launchpad). The SDSU Office of Technology Transfer works to deploy the products of research to improve society and bolster the regional economy.  The ZIP Launchpad is an on-campus incubator that supports faculty, students, and staff in launching startup companies by surrounding aspiring entrepreneurs with support and resources to realize entrepreneurial objectives. The AVPI will engage with existing entrepreneurial groups on the campus and aid in the creation of new structures as appropriate and especially as they relate to the SDSU Mission Valley Innovation District. Recently, SDSU announced a partnership with Techstars “Techstars San Diego Powered by SDSU” to bring the world-renowned accelerator to the San Diego ecosystem.

In collaboration with university leadership and other members of the Division of Research Innovation team, including the Associate Vice President for Research Advancement, the Director of Strategic Initiatives, and the Director of Federal Government Relations, the AVPI will promote and advance the innovation and entrepreneurship missions and strategic imperatives of the university, ranging from the SDSU Mission Valley Innovation District to external collaborations on other research, innovation and economic development initiatives. The AVPI will work to develop relationships in the community, attend regional events on behalf of SDSU, and serve as an ambassador of the university at selected special events.

Minimum Qualifications

  • Advanced degree
  • 10 or more years of experience in both academia and industry that includes deep tech commercialization and partnership development
  • Strong acumen for strategic planning
  • Demonstrated experience in building strong collaborations between industry and academia to grow research output
  • Ability to guide the de-risking and development of early-stage technologies
  • Knowledge of and a deep commitment to research
  • Ability to contribute in meaningful ways to SDSU’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion

Preferred Qualifications

  • Terminal degree


San Diego State University will offer a competitive salary based on the qualifications and experience of the selected candidate.


San Diego State University offers a rich benefits package that includes:

  • Extensive leave benefits: 14 paid holidays, 24 vacation days, and 12 sick days per year
  • Retirement security through a CalPERS defined benefit pension and retiree healthcare benefits
  • An array of health, dental and vision coverage at no- or low-cost to the employee
  • California State University system fee reduction program (fee waiver) for employee or qualified dependent

See our benefits page for comprehensive information on our robust benefits package.

Applications and Nominations

Upon application, applicants will be prompted to provide basic contact information, a letter of interest, and a curriculum vitae or resume.  The position will remain open until filled; however, to ensure full consideration, applications must be received by January 2, 2023.

Confidential inquiries and nominations are invited.  Please contact: 

Casie Martinez, Assistant Human Resources Director

Center for Human Resources

(619) 594-3953

Supplemental Information

In accordance with the California State University systemwide policy, the COVID-19 vaccine will be required for all students, faculty, and staff in order to access campus.  An individual is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose of a two-shot vaccine or two weeks after the first dose of a single-shot vaccine. 

The individual hired into this role will be required to submit their completed vaccination documentation to the university’s secure online health portal prior to beginning work.  Individuals with an approved medical or religious exemption on file with the university will be required to complete regular COVID-19 testing.

San Diego State University is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate against persons based on race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and expression, marital status, disability, pregnancy, medical condition, or covered veteran status.

After a contingent offer of employment is made, a background check (including a criminal records check) must be completed. Any offer of employment is contingent upon successful completion of the background check.  Failure to satisfactorily complete the background check may affect the application status of the applicant or continued employment of current CSU employees who apply for this position.

The person holding this position is considered a mandated reporter under the California Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act and is required to comply with the requirements set forth in CSU Executive Order 1083 as a condition of employment.

An advanced degree and 10 or more years of experience that includes deep tech commercialization and partnership development are required, as is prior work experience in both academia and industry

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