Hiring: Lab Manager

Location: San Leandro, CA
Employment Type: Part or Full-Time
Reports to: Chief Operating Officer (COO)


Sway is a California-based biomaterials startup harnessing the power of seaweed to create home-compostable replacements for single-use plastics. We are focused on developing and scaling high-performance, seaweed-based, flexible packaging. Sway's technology drops into traditional plastic infrastructure, while simultaneously replenishing ocean health, promoting regenerative materials, and ultimately creating a more inclusive climate movement.


The Lab Manager plays a crucial role in enhancing the formality and functionality of our expanding lab operations. This role is central to creating bandwidth for technical teams, facilitating innovation, and advancing product development. As we transition to a larger lab space, the Lab Manager will develop and implement robust protocols and SOPs to build a high-functioning laboratory environment. We foster a proactive, solutions-oriented work environment where a tight-knit, interdisciplinary team collaborates intensively. Exceptional organization, and communication skills are vital, as is attention to detail within a fast-moving startup environment. Candidates must maintain a high degree of independence and responsibility, reliability and accountability in planning and executing the role’s responsibilities.

This is a contracted role which has the option to be part or full-time depending on the candidate’s qualifications and experience.


  • Lab Operations and Management:
    • Develop and maintain SOPs to ensure efficient lab operations, and compliance with industry standards.
    • Manage the organization, cleaning, and maintenance and use optimization of Sway’s facilities
    • Manage our internal biodegradation and compost testing programs, maintaining rigorous standards of accuracy and reliability.
  • Inventory and Supply Management:
    • Manage inventory for materials and expendables crucial for ongoing research and development projects.
    • Ensure that all resources are readily available and accounted for, minimizing operational downtime.
    • Manage the preparation and logistics for shipping/receiving of materials.

  • Safety and Training Programs:
    • Develop and oversee a comprehensive lab safety program, including regular training sessions for all technical staff.
    • Serve as our chemical hygiene officer and oversee waste administration and logistics.
    • Ensure all lab activities comply with current health and safety regulations.

  • Research and Development Support:
    • Assist in material testing and development projects from setup to teardown, actively participating in experimental processes.
    • Collaborate closely with the technical team to refine experiment designs and enhance outcome efficiencies.


  • Proven experience in lab management, with a strong emphasis on creating structured, efficient laboratory environments.
  • Ability to oversee multiple projects, manage schedules, resources, and ensure project deliverables are met on time and within budget.
  • Superior organizational and management skills to handle complex logistics and multiple tasks simultaneously.
  • Excellent communication skills, capable of fostering collaboration within an interdisciplinary team.
  • Ability to meet the physical demands of the job, maintaining high energy levels and manual dexterity.
  • Must be able to frequently engage in physical activities, including bending, moving, lifting, and carrying heavy items (up to 50–70 lbs), as well as stand for extended periods.
  • Deeply aligned with our mission to innovate in the field of sustainable materials.


  • A degree in Chemistry, Biology, Materials Science, or a related field is preferred.
  • Certifications in lab management, safety training (such as OSHA or HAZMAT), and other relevant areas that ensure compliance with industry standards.
  • Several years (typically 3-5 years) of experience managing a laboratory, with a proven track record in setting up and scaling lab operations efficiently.
  • Knowledge and experience in biomaterial, materials engineering and polymers science.
  • Demonstrated mechanical skills such as laboratory equipment knowledge and troubleshooting proficiency .
  • Proven experience working within a team environment and drawing on knowledge and skills of other research engineers/chemists.
  • Experience developing and implementing safety protocols, ensuring compliance with health and safety regulations.


After preparing your resume/CV and cover letter, please apply directly through the link below. We will reach out to select candidates for interviews on a rolling basis.

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