Research Leader Sustainable Chemistry

Job description

Within the Separation and Conversion Technology Unit (SCT), more than 150 driven employees work on technologies for sustainability within the chemical sector. We work on a research programme to transform and intensify current chemical processes. We are also committed to replacing fossil raw materials with raw materials based on biomass, CO2 and by-product or waste streams. We have now an open position for a Research Leader.

Based on needs and trends analyses in the chemical sector landscape, the Research Leader will bear ultimate responsibility for developing the multi-disciplinary research programme for the SCT unit with a valorisation prospect of minimum 5 years. The research leader is also responsible for searching for cross-links with the other VITO programmes (like Materials and Energy), so as to grow new research programmes from there too. All of this will be based on good networking and scientific insight into the chemistry domain, always searching for innovative combinations.


  • Based on trend analyses and a good scientific insight, you will pose the right research questions (in terms of chemistry) that are needed to help take the chemical industry forward in the future. With a focus on sustainable resources and processes.
  • The SCT unit's multi-disciplinary research programme will be drawn up and managed based on these research questions, in close collaboration with the domain managers (who manage the various knowledge domains in the unit) and product/service owners (responsible for developing and executing the product roadmaps).
  • The research leader is also responsible for searching for cross-links with the other VITO programmes (like the sustainable materials and sustainable energy program), to grow new research programmes from there too.
  • You will manage the relationships with mainly the universities and other research institutions. You will build up a strong international network, including industrial actors, that can also be used to set up the right consortia as part of co-funded projects.
  • Analysing all relevant project calls and redirect to colleagues in the Unit.
  • You will disseminate the research programme's vision internationally and will be SCT's “thought leader”.
  • You will report to the SCT Unit Manager and will be part of SCT management team.

Job requirements

  • You have obtained a doctorate in applied sciences. You can demonstrate an international and academic curriculum.
  • You have a minimum of 10 years' experience in the chemistry domain.
  • You have a minimum of 5 years' demonstrable experience of managing multi-disciplinary research programmes.
  • You have experience of applied technological development. You are creative and a strong conceptual thinker with a good understand of economical and physical boundaries.
  • You have hands-on experience in writing project proposals.
  • You possess excellent networking competencies.
  • You are not fazed by regular professional international journeys.
  • You can express yourself fluently in English (verbal and written).


  • A competitive salary complemented by a comprehensive package of benefits.
  • The opportunity to be part of an internationally prominent player in the field of cutting-edge technological research and scientific consultancy.
  • Innovation is our trump card. We give our employees the opportunities to train and keep up to date within their field of expertise, more so, we expect this.