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Head of Product R&D

Air Protein
San Francisco, California, US
Closing date
Nov 26, 2021

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Academic / Research
Conservation science
Climate Change
Salary Type
Employment Type
Full time
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Imagine a meat company unlike anything that has come before! Air Protein™ is on a mission to impact climate change by revolutionizing how we make meat. Founded in 2019, we make protein from elements of the air.

Air Protein is a modern food company, crafting the world's first air-based meats to feed us more sustainably, help renew the planet's resources and eliminate compromise between nutrition, taste and climate impact. Using novel technology inspired by NASA, we convert elements found in the air around us into protein using probiotic cultures, then turn those proteins into any meat imaginable. It's where cutting-edge science meets bold ambition to reinvent the way we eat.

Join our team of passionate scientists, engineers, and business leaders working to transform the future of food with solutions we never thought possible, creating meat that is nutritious, delicious and more sustainable. Air Protein uses less land, less water and is significantly faster to make than any other meat available.

In addition to the chance to work with cutting edge technology to help combat climate change and working toward addressing the impending food crisis, Air Protein employees also enjoy competitive benefits and total compensation plans and a collaborative company culture. If you join us on this relentless pursuit for more, changing the world will soon feel as natural as taking a breath.

Air Protein is funded by ADM, a world leader in fermentation technology, GV (formerly Google Ventures), and Barclays, one of the world's leading financial institutions.


The Head of Product R&D is responsible for all aspects of research, development and innovation related to the successful development and commercial delivery of high quality meat analogue products to market. In-line with Air Protein's ambition to be the world leader in democratizing the availability of the highest quality and most sustainable meat alternative offerings, it is critical that the organization continues to conduct pioneering research to enable the sustainable delivery of market leading know-how, technologies, ingredients and products. This key strategic program would address such matters as the identification of new / novel technologies and ingredients to be developed for nutritional or functional applications, meat analogue processing technologies, and would also require the identification and development of key strategic external research and development partners.

Key areas of focus:

Technology Commercialization
  • Oversee protein development and meat commercialization
  • Forward thinking and pivoting - able to make shifts with products as needed
  • Meat and protein expert who is also an innovator, can develop and commercialize technology.
  • Understands in a focused way how to get meat to market - what's the right meat, how to make it, meet certain nutritional and sustainability profiles, taste profiles, and be able to do it in a technology agnostic way that opens up endless opportunity without constricting Air Protein form a manufacturing stance.
  • Understands how to make Air Protein meat taste like the best meat on the planet.
  • We will have all kinds of scientists who will know how to make meat. This person will be able to make the right character profile to deliver a great tasting product
  • Guide Kiverdi and vendors that deliver ingredients accordingly

Product Development
  • Deliver meat products to a global marketplace in an economically viable/profitable/marketable way
  • Understands nutrition and able to hire to the specialist needs of furthering the nutritional profiles in the future
  • Open to making pivots and learning how to move forward as products and ingredients evolve
  • Build the world's best meat team using their development skills and hires to the innovation and research side accordingly
  • While this team won't make it (Manufacturing will), they need to be able to explore, identify and guide Manufacturing, Commercialization, and even Marketing accordingly to ensure all teams have a deep understanding of the products and ingredients.
  • Uses their combination of "big company" and "start up" expertise to act as a leader of forward thinking and growth mindset presence
  • The VP, Product R&D must know how to move product into market place with their development abilities and have the confidence to test MVP products and move them to market efficiently.
  • Someone on their team should always be exploring opportunities…. This person needs to determine WHAT should be commercialized, guide their research and innovation teams and be able to pivot accordingly.

  • In partnership with the leadership team and other key stakeholders, develop a comprehensive research, development and innovation strategy in support of the evolving business strategy at Air Protein.
  • Lead the team and a collection of strategic partners to translate bench and early pilot scale activities and actions (producing an early prototype ingredient) to scale up operations capable of consistently / continuously delivering large volumes of meat analogues.
  • Critically address the following on a proactive and consistent basis, ensuring all processes are supported both from regulatory and economic viability perspective:
    • toxicological testing and processing technology and operating condition development
    • Consistent delivery of specific flavor, color and aromatic approaches & technologies
  • Lead the coordinated development of meat analogue products ("fibrous" meats such as chicken breast, pork etc., flaky white fish, scallops etc.) delivering Air Protein's North Star targets for performance in terms of i) nutrition (eg. fat, saturated fat, sodium, protein), ii) aesthetics (real meat appearance), iii) taste, aroma, texture, iv) ingredients (eg. no soy).
  • Explore and evaluate combinations of different ingredient combinations (including vegetable proteins, starches hydrocolloids etc.) with alternative processing technologies to achieve the desired product design and scale appropriately for product development.
  • Establish organizational capabilities in Quality, Food Safety and Regulatory to support the scalability of product and the future of the company.

  • Inspire & Influence - Ability to communicate with all levels of an organization. Excellent oral & written communication skills
  • Built Talent & Teams - Proven ability to build and develop teams. Leader with evidence of strong interpersonal and team-building skills
  • Drive for Results - Excellent portfolio/project management skills. Takes and owns decisions; leads with passion and ambition for Air Protein's mission
  • Lead Innovation - Demonstrated active learner with the ability to make independent observations. Creative courage and vision to challenge the thinking of others. A disruptive thinker with an entrepreneurial mindset; motivated and empowered by being unencumbered by layers of decision-making and multiple processes.
  • Adaptability - Comfortable with change in a fast-moving, entrepreneurial environment; resourceful and can operate effectively in a lean environment
    • Brings at least 20+ years of experience in progressive R&D roles; balanced in terms of research, technology development and product development/commercialization expertise. Brings significant category expertise in food and /or ingredients; ideally has had some experience working in biotechnology. A bachelor's degree is required; an advanced degree or PhD in a relevant scientific discipline is a plus.
    • Skilled in food product development, processing/biotechnology with exposure to fermented foods. Ideally has had some exposure to meat analogue formulation and processing
    • Understands the use of technology as a competitive differentiator
    • Experience working in a high growth, fast paced business unit or company : An experienced technical leader who will help the company scale while evolving the unique culture. Capable of building processes in a dynamic, unstructured, fast-paced environment; comfortable leading through periods of transformation and ambiguity.
    • Business and commercial acumen: Brings a strong business focus to leading the technical function with proven ability to ensure the technical strategy for the organization is linked to and effectively enables the overarching business strategy.
    • Stakeholder management: Proven ability to work seamlessly across functions. Effectively communicates an understanding of performance mechanisms that can be translated into effective storytelling.
    • Connect cross-functionally with the marketing team on creative development related to claims, performance, usage and technology translation.
    • Set a high bar for customer experience, include monitoring of consumer complaints and post market surveillance.
    • Effective at building and managing external stakeholders/partnerships.
    • Analyzes reactions from their audiences to evaluate the success of design or implementation of tactics; Understands the company's objectives and takes appropriate measures to gain consensus and correct unsatisfactory performance and results.
    • Assemble and develop a world-class internal / external technical development organization and team capable of delivering on all aspirational and operational aspects of ingredient development, product development, and future innovative research and technology development
    • Serve as a brand ambassador of Air Protein, educating and empowering others to be successful in their work as it relates to (role, department, area of expertise).
    • Performs other related duties to benefit the mission of the organization.

Air Protein is an equal opportunity employer.

Disclaimer: This job description has been designed to indicate the general nature and level of work performed, and it is not intended to contain or be interpreted as a comprehensive inventory of all duties, responsibilities and qualifications required of employees assigned to this job.
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