Director, Chain Reaction Innovations

At Argonne, our scientists and engineers conduct world-class research in clean energy, the environment, technology, national security, and more. We're finding creative ways to prepare the world for a better future. The Science and Technology Partnerships and Outreach (S&TPO) organization are one of five directorates at Argonne comprised of diverse individuals with scientific, business, and operations backgrounds. S&TPO's mission is to catalyze partnerships, capture new opportunities, and connect to the innovation ecosystem for the purposes of enhancing and expanding the impact of Argonne's science and technology.

S&TPO is seeking a new Director for the Chain Reaction Innovations (CRI) program. Co-founded by DOE's Advanced Manufacturing Office and Argonne in 2016, CRI has to date supported 28 innovators who are developing advanced manufacturing innovations to address climate change, sustainability, and more. CRI startups have gone on to raise more than $156M in follow-on funding and have created 247 jobs. Several of these startups are taking root in Chicagoland. The program is currently recruiting for its newest cohort of innovators who will join the program next spring, showcasing the ongoing support the program generates from both Argonne and DOE. The Director will lead a team of approximately five team members and will report to the S&TPO Associate Laboratory Director.

Job Description

As the Director, the incumbent will provide vision and leadership for Chain Reaction Innovations (CRI), supporting a community of innovators developing emerging energy innovations into technologies and products that address climate change, sustainability, and inclusive innovation. As the director, this individual connects the program with the regional innovation ecosystem, including investors, industrial partners, universities, state, and city officials, and startup accelerators and incubators that support the movement of science-based innovations into the market. The Director also manages the interactions with the Department of Energy Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) and with other key stakeholders at the Department of Energy, the University of Chicago, and the leadership team at Argonne National Laboratory. The Director also works directly with scientists at Argonne, establishing collaborations between the innovators and lab scientists that are critical to accelerating the maturation of deep tech innovations. The Director also serves to support entrepreneurship more generally at Argonne and facilitates the engagement of the lab with key local and regional stakeholders to build strategic collaborations, amplify the Laboratory's presence in the US entrepreneurial ecosystem, and be responsible for creating impactful outcomes from Lab S&T appropriately partnered with start-ups.

The Director works in close collaboration with other LEEP (Lab-Embedded Entrepreneurship Programs) nodes Innovation Crossroads (ORNL) and Cyclotron Road (CR), and, starting in 2022, a new LEEP node based at NREL.


  • Serves as the primary mentor and advisor to a diverse, cross-disciplinary community of entrepreneurial fellows (10-12 active startups).

  • Supervises and provides leadership to the CRI team (admin, operations, communications, mentors) to support CRI innovators, including programming, connectivity with the Chicagoland innovation ecosystem, with industry leaders, university-based entrepreneurship programs, and other resources.

  • Provides leadership to support CRI's annual recruitment, including the selection of fellows that join each cohort of innovators in the program, following Argonne's core values and the program's goals for diversity, equity, and inclusion.

  • Manages CRI's Advisory Council and Scientific Advisory Board, leveraging these entities to help drive CRI's mission, through their participation in the evaluation and selection of CRI's cohorts of innovators.

  • Manage relations with key mentoring resources in the region.

  • Represent CRI and Argonne at the executive level to key local, regional, and national stakeholders.

  • Builds connections to lab scientists that act as technical mentors to the selected innovators.

  • Represents CRI, Argonne, and the LEEP to outside entities like industrial partners, investors, government-funding agencies, and other scientific partners.

  • Responsible for managing communications and expectations between Argonne and DOE sponsors, including DOE-AMO, DOE Office of Science (SC), and with the University of Chicago.

  • Will be expected to drive CRI's continued growth and sustainability through the development of new programs and through the expanded presence of CRI in the city, including Argonne in Chicago.

  • Serves as one of Argonne's primary points of contact with the local and regional innovation ecosystem, in particular with startup accelerators, incubators, university entrepreneurship programs, economic development organizations, community leaders, and with state and city economic development organizations.

  • Is Argonne's lead representative to the Duality Accelerator, which supports startups developing quantum-related innovations.

Position Requirements

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Passionate about the need to support the next generation of deep tech entrepreneurs to address climate change, sustainability, and community impact.

  • Deeply understands and has experience with the fundamental tenants of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

  • A thought leader in climate change, sustainability, and the critical need for scientists and engineers to help move their innovations into applications with high social and economic impact.

  • Has an advanced degree in either the physical, biological, or environmental sciences, with a minimum of ten years of experience.

  • Experienced in early-stage research & development, technology maturation, new product development, manufacturing scale-up, and commercialization of science-based innovations.

  • Entrepreneurial experience, either in a startup or through new product development and deployment within a larger organization.

  • Has experience communicating to a broad range of audiences including scientists, Lab and DOE leadership, civic and community leaders, and the general public.

  • Excellent interpersonal skills and the ability to develop productive collaborations with lab scientists and CRI innovators, and with senior management within Argonne, other academic/scientific organizations, as well as with the private sector and investors.

  • Familiarity with the National Labs and the Department of Energy.

  • Comprehensive knowledge of Argonne's extensive research portfolio and major initiatives.

  • Ability to model Argonne's Core Values: Impact, Safety, Respect, Integrity, and Teamwork.


  • The level of knowledge and skill required for this position is typically achieved through a combination of scientific, technical, and managerial expertise gained through a Master or PhD in the physical sciences, material sciences or related field with a minimum of 10+ years of experience in R&D preferable in both the public, private and startup sector.

This position description documents the general nature and level of work but is not intended to be a comprehensive list of all activities, duties and responsibilities required of job incumbent. Consequently, job incumbent may be required to perform other duties as assigned.

Job Family
Research Development (RD)

Job Profile
R&D Multi-Functional Leader 3

Worker Type

Time Type
Full time

As an equal employment opportunity and affirmative action employer, and in accordance with our core values of impact, safety, respect, integrity and teamwork, Argonne National Laboratory is committed to a diverse and inclusive workplace that fosters collaborative scientific discovery and innovation. In support of this commitment, Argonne encourages minorities, women, veterans and individuals with disabilities to apply for employment. Argonne considers all qualified applicants for employment without regard to age, ancestry, citizenship status, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, genetic information, marital status, national origin, pregnancy, race, religion, sexual orientation, veteran status or any other characteristic protected by law.

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Chicago, IL