Man working in the lab

$30 Million Commitment to Advance St. Louis Bioscience

on September 27, 2011 by BioSTL

New funding to boost startup companies and launch new organization to further collaboration

ST. LOUIS — A new regional organization to champion St. Louis bioscience, BioSTL (evolved from the Coalition for Plant and Life Sciences), announced today a $30 million commitment from Washington University in St. Louis, BJC HealthCare, and the St. Louis Life Sciences Project to forward bioscience company creation and drive economic growth in St. Louis. These funds will increase the region’s capacity to support entrepreneurs and launch BioSTL itself, the next step in St. Louis’ 10-year-old collective effort to increase economic activity in the medical and plant biosciences.

The three funding organizations have each committed $2 million per year for five years, for a combined total of $30 million. A majority of these new funds will be dedicated to pre-seed and seed investments and associated support for newly-created enterprises. These early-stage investments will help transform innovations from local institutions and entrepreneurs into new companies and new jobs in the St. Louis region.

“St. Louis is fortunate to have an extraordinary concentration of world-class scientists producing cutting-edge innovations in bioscience. This new commitment positions the region to capitalize on opportunities to create and attract enterprises and jobs in a significant high growth 21st century industry,” said Donn Rubin, president and CEO of BioSTL and past executive director of the Coalition for Plant and Life Sciences.

BioSTL will work to develop and attract increased investment capital and experienced entrepreneurs to support the growth of emerging bioscience companies. It will dedicate resources to common needs that collectively benefit local organizations dedicated to advancing bioscience. Further, BioSTL is designed to ensure that the St. Louis bioscience community is speaking with a single, coherent voice to the public, policymakers and funders.

"This generous initial funding is an important step for St. Louis, which has for years competed with other leading bioscience regions that consistently devote significant resources to commercializing innovation. These new multi-year commitments move our region closer to achieving its full potential," said BioSTL founding Chairman John McDonnell.

"The St. Louis region has an extraordinary concentration of world-class scientists within our research universities and biomedical and health sciences centers," said Steven H. Lipstein, BJC HealthCare president and CEO. "This talent pool presents a unique opportunity for the region to recruit leading physician scientists, young investigators, the very best health sciences faculty and students. A critical mass of human talent in the biomedical, plant and health sciences will attract new research funding and investment capital and entrepreneurs to our region, building new companies, creating growth opportunities, and contributing to the economic well-being of St. Louis."

“Washington University has long been associated with many high-impact developments from our education and research programs,” said Mark S. Wrighton, chancellor of Washington University. “However, we are always seeking new opportunities to bring benefit to the region, the country, and the world. Our partnership with BioSTL will contribute to our overall goals for this era, and will help address the challenges of today and tomorrow. BioSTL will create a strong environment for the development of new companies, many of which will be led by talented Washington University students, faculty, and alumni.”

The new organization builds on a decade of work by the Coalition for Plant and Life Sciences, which has been chaired since its inception by Dr. William Danforth, chancellor emeritus of Washington University. The Coalition has led local efforts to establish necessary elements of an entrepreneurial infrastructure for bioscience development, including: the BioGenerator to generate new companies (26 startup companies to date); CORTEX and BRDG Park to provide lab space; and local venture capital funds to finance company growth.

“The Coalition for Plant and Life Sciences and its many partners have developed extraordinary expertise, results and a true sense of partnership, all for the common good of the region. I anticipate that BioSTL will take this success to an even higher level,” said Denny Coleman, president and CEO of the St. Louis County Economic Council, whose Helix Center incubator will partner with BioSTL.

BioSTL’s efforts will collectively benefit a variety of partner organizations, such as BioGenerator, CORTEX, the Center for Emerging Technologies, BRDG Park, and ITE incubator, as well as Helix Center.

By devoting human and financial resources to shared needs, BioSTL will benefit the programs of partner organizations while relieving them of the need to devote their limited resources in pursuit of separate strategies. Examples include: training and recruiting entrepreneurs, increasing venture capital investment in the region, government relations, coordinated marketing and regional data collection.

The leader of one partner organization, Dennis Lower, president and CEO of CORTEX, stated, “The collaborations and efficiencies promoted by BioSTL will help CORTEX to develop a vibrant bioscience district in midtown St. Louis. By extending the reach of the region’s resources, BioSTL’s activities will enable greater success for all local bioscience organizations.”

The group of St. Louis civic, academic and business leaders that has met for the past 10 years as the Coalition for Plant and Life Sciences will continue to convene as a community sounding and advisory board, and continue its rich exchange of ideas and information that has been instrumental over the past decade in informing programmatic and policy priorities and ensuring regional coordination. To reflect its key role as part of the new organization, this group will be renamed the “BioSTL Coalition.”

“Growing the regional economy, fostering an entrepreneurial culture and creating jobs are complex undertakings. Adequate funding and collaborative partners are critical elements of success,” said Dr. Danforth.

BioSTL will collaborate with the region’s public and private economic development entities, continuing the Coalition’s record of partnering with such players as St. Louis RCGA, St. Louis County Economic Council, St. Louis Development Corporation, and the Missouri Technology Corporation.

About BioSTL

BioSTL builds regional capacity and fosters collaborative efforts to advance innovation, entrepreneurship, and new company creation that capitalize on St. Louis’ world-class medical and plant biosciences. Through its work, BioSTL promotes economic growth and regional prosperity.

Mack A. Bradley
StandPoint Public Affairs
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