Commercialization Director



Sales & Business Development · Full-time
Chicago, IL, USA
135,000 – 175,000 USD per year
Posted on Monday, July 8, 2024


Current is seeking an entrepreneurial leader with a passion for technology and commercialization and a strong desire to drive innovation in the water and climate sectors and related industries.

The field of water-related technologies is rapidly evolving. We are looking for a leader who appreciates the technical and commercial complexity inherent in deploying and scaling water solutions but is also willing to work diligently to identify and break down all types of barriers to implementation through innovative programs and product offerings. As the Commercialization Director, you will play a pivotal role in shaping the long-term strategy of Current’s key initiatives, including Great Lakes ReNEW- Current’s NSF-funded Regional Innovation Engine, and Current’s water technology accelerator.

As a collaborative organization, we work with a wide range of impact-oriented practitioners, and need a commercialization leader who relishes the challenges of working across technical domains, sectors and issues. This role includes management responsibilities for contractors, interns, and vendors with possible management of full-time employees as we grow. We are looking for someone who excels at clear communication and creative partnership development.


The Commercialization Director will lead a suite of programs and support structures with the goal of accelerating the development, adoption, commercialization and scale-up of technologies that address a wide range of water- and climate-related challenges. Specifically, this role is responsible for identifying the most promising technologies–including those “home grown” within Current’s own partner consortia and companies recruited to engage- and systematically supporting their development through pilot and demonstration partnerships and commercial scaling opportunities.

Convening and partnership development:

● Lead engagement with the Current Industry Consortium, including recruiting new and managing existing members from industries across Great Lakes ReNEW areas of focus (including manufacturing, agriculture, food and beverage, energy, and others). Collaborate with the Technical Program Director to identify industry priorities to inform the R&D portfolio.

● Convene and oversee the ReNEW Translation Working Group, composed of expert accelerators, incubators, investors, entrepreneurship support organizations and testbeds.

● Provide a critical bridging role across ReNEW verticals: R&D, Translation (commercialization), and Inclusive Ecosystems (workforce development, STEM education). Act as a liaison to multiple consortia (Research, Industry) and working groups (Inclusive Ecosystem, Utility) to implement the commercialization goals of Current and ReNEW.

● Collaborate with senior ReNEW personnel on combined R&D and commercialization strategy. Own creative commercialization thinking to drive key strategic initiatives, and provide thought leadership and participation on behalf of Current in industry events/panels and publications.

● Build connections outside the ecosystem to make Current/Great Lakes ReNEW relevant nationally, attract more partners and collaborators, and broaden the reach and impact.

Program strategy and support structures

● Working closely with the Current’s Technical Program Director, create a strategy to provide end-to-end commercialization support from TRL 1-9 across the region, with deeper focus on TRLs 4 and up, with special attention to filling gaps between existing offerings. Lead a suite of commercialization projects, including:

  • Building and staffing Current’s accelerator program in Chicago.
  • Execute partnerships with existing accelerator programs and entrepreneurship support organizations to deliver resource recovery-focused cohorts.
  • Identify and evaluate new pilot opportunities with industry, utility, and community partners.
  • Coordinate with senior Current personnel to establish a centralized intelligent water resource recovery testbed system in Chicago, including subsystem testbeds across the Great Lakes Region (Illinois, Ohio, Wisconsin).

● With the senior leadership team and evaluation partner, develop key metrics and measures to track progress of commercialization efforts to inform continuous improvement, performance management, and evaluation.

● Design and develop core partner agreements for Great Lakes ReNEW and other major initiatives. Work with Current’s leadership team to develop a Master Consortium Agreement (MCA), informed by other relevant models and laying the foundation for desired end-state core functions, capacities, and capabilities for ReNEW (e.g., including IP and data sharing considerations).

● Identify and secure additional support (legal, insurance, staffing, etc.) needed to deliver on commercialization goals.

● Continually evaluate offerings and benchmark best practices outside the Great Lakes ReNEW ecosystem for continual improvement.

Capital attraction and deployment

● RefineReNEWinvestment and creative capital deployment plan, including:

  • Supporting external partners to investigate and launch a new ReNEW investment fund.
  • Converting corporate/industry prospects to full members of Current’s Industry Consortium.
  • Identifying philanthropic and government funding opportunities to support broader commercialization goals.


● Bachelor’s degree required, MBA or related graduate degree preferred.

● Experience working to commercialize and grow startups (including previous work with accelerators, incubators, investment funds, industry, tech transfer offices, or other related work).

● Experience with corporate engagement, including recruitment, convening, and relationship management.

● 10+years in leadership positions with general management across a variety of roles within the technology/commercialization industry preferred.

What we’re looking for: values and attributes:

● Passion for Current’s mission and values. You have a deep, shared commitment to the things we are passionate about: environmental stewardship; economic opportunity; technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

● Positive and collaborative work ethic. You have a drive to succeed for and with our team and partners and to lift up the people, organizations, and businesses that share our goals.

● Network orientation. You value relationships beyond one-off transactions and understand that in this long-term, system change work, effectiveness depends on the breadth and depth of our relationships.

● Creative approaches to problem solving. You know that the first idea isn’t usually the best, and you know how to push yourself and your team to come up with new approaches.

● Curious and learning oriented. You want to understand your successes as well as your failures, and you’re fueled by curiosity about the unknown.

● Comfort with ambiguity. You have a flexible and agile approach to big and small challenges and understand that progress is often nonlinear. You’re willing to adapt and help Current adapt to be more resilient to our changing landscape.

● Accountability and humility. You’re comfortable owning responsibility for a project’s execution, but happy to share credit for the final team product. You are motivated by your team’s opportunities and successes, and to support the whole team in tasks that contribute to individual and team goals.

● Empathetic leadership. You understand that our diverse partners across government, community, university, and industry face diverse challenges in their own work, and you listen to understand and build bridges.

● Results orientation. You find ways to track and measure what matters in your work, and in Current’s work. You’re rigorous about sharing those results with the team and when appropriate, our partners.

Current is an equal opportunity employer.