Director, Operations

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COMPANY BACKGROUND/CULTURE

Headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, Willow Biosciences is a biotechnology company focused on revolutionizing the industrial manufacturing of active pharmaceutical ingredients and other high-value products traditionally derived from plants. A competitive advantage of Willow Biosciences is their established integration of cutting-edge basic research and state-of-the-art applied technology development, linking genomics-based plant gene discovery to synthetic biology-enabled microbial strain engineering. Proven success in the development of yeast strains producing pharmaceutical opiates is now being leveraged to establish industry-leading yeast strains engineered to make cannabinoids.

Willow Biosciences is fully funded to commercialize the production of cannabidiol (CBD) with their recent closing of a $29 million financing. Willow has an experienced board and executive team with a track record of success building and commercializing start-up companies. Senior leadership combined has founded 7 companies over the past 15 years, raised in excess of a billion dollars of capital and successfully transacted over 4 billion dollars on sale of companies.

Willow Biosciences employs a world class team of scientists with an international reputation for groundbreaking discovery in the field of plant metabolic biochemistry led by Dr. Peter Facchini as Chief Science Officer (CSO). Dr. Facchini has been a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Calgary (U of C) for 24 years and is the Canada Research Chair in Plant Metabolic Processes Biotechnology. Willow Biosciences also engages with Dr. Facchini’s laboratory at the U of C through sponsored research contracts and industry-leveraged public-sector grants. This industrial-academic partnership effectively facilitates the integration of early-stage research with the company’s focused research and development activities. In addition to their current private placement, the company has already leveraged more than $1 million in government academic grants through Dr. Facchini’s U of C research program. Overall, the joint research enterprise includes industrial and academic researchers from the senior-scientist to the postdoctoral scholar levels, all of whom are focused on harnessing the biosynthetic potential of plants via the development of microbial production systems. 

Fermentation-based biosynthesis in microbes yields the highest-grade product for industrial and pharmaceutical applications, and provides a distinct value proposition to pharmaceutical partners. It also has the potential for higher product yields at a lower cost compared with extraction and purification from cultivated plants. Willow Biosciences is establishing or augmenting state-of-the-art laboratory facilities in Calgary, San Francisco and Vancouver, and they continue to add industry-leading experts to both their business and science teams. The Calgary headquarters and research facility are located at the Life Sciences Innovation Hub (LSIH) in the U of C Research Park. 

 

KEY RESPONSIBILITIES

Reporting directly to the Vice President, Applied Science, the Director/Senior Director of Operations is a critical role in bridging science and business activities, and academic-industrial partnerships, at Willow Biosciences. The incumbent will act as a primary contact at the Calgary research facility for the Executive Chairman and support lab operations, corporate partnerships, and human resources (HR), business development, intellectual property activities at both the Willow Biosciences and the nearby U of C locations. 

As the Director/Senior Director of Operations, the incumbent is responsible for managing all Calgary operations through the transition from an academic to an industrial lab. Their success will be measured by their ability to manage all lab operations, assist with applications for additional grant funding, and support technical communications including the preparation and maintenance of patents and journal articles. Additionally, this person will be actively involved in business development activities in partnership with the Executive Chairman and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), specifically supporting partnership strategy, contract monitoring, investor relations and market research.

Science & Business Coordination

  • Contribute, as part of a talented and motivated team, to the advancement of the science and business of Willow Biosciences.
  • Develop strong relationships with scientists and support them through the effective leadership of the operations.
  • Build a bridge between the science and business to support the continued advancement of Willow Biosciences.

Lab and Research Management

  • Day-to-day management of LSIH site operations including coordination of research services, ordering of supplies, equipment purchases and repairs, reconciliation of purchase expenses and other routine tasks.
  • Human Resources management overseeing lab personnel, maintenance of consulting and non-disclosure (NDA) agreements involving academic partnership staff, and managing recruitment and hiring activities.
  • Coordination of research agreements including contract maintenance and fee payments.
  • Management of existing partnership grants and contracts through coordination of HR activities, budgets and research reporting.
  • Preparation of new partnership grants and contracts.

Business Development

  • Support business development activities including research and analyzing business opportunities, contacting partners, and contributing to investor presentations.
  • Provide support in the maintenance of commercial partnerships, including JV reporting
  • Travel to meetings, conferences and partner sites to stay up-to-date on business and market developments.

Technical Communication

  • Provide support and coordination in the preparation and filing of patents.
  • Provide support and coordination in the preparation of journal articles. 
  • Preparation of company marketing materials including PowerPoint presentations, press releases and thought leadership.

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE / QUALIFICATIONS

  • At least 5 years of experience across the areas of scientific research, operations and business development.
  • Experience working with commercial organizations.
  • Track record in the management and liaison of science and business.
  • Strong disposition towards dynamic and changing environments.
  • Experience with grant writing and other forms of scientific communication.
  • Achievement-oriented, interested in being a significant contributor to the growth of a leading organization that strives to be the best in their field.

EDUCATION

  • Ph.D. or Master of Science in biochemistry, molecular biology and/or related discipline.

COMPENSATION

  • An attractive compensation package will be provided to the successful candidate.
Location: Calgary, AB Canada
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