Man working in the lab

Regional collaboration wins Bioscience Jobs Accelerator grant

on October 4, 2011 by BioSTL

ST. LOUIS — Several St. Louis area organizations collaborated to win a $1.8 million multi-agency federal grant called the Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge, aimed at advancing high-growth industry clusters through public-private partnerships that foster job creation, global competition and regional economic growth. The St. Louis initiative is one of only 20 selected regions, out of 125 applicants nationwide, and the only one focused on a bioscience cluster. The three-part grant proposal required that winners be selected by all three federal agencies: Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA), Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration (ETA), and the Small Business Administration (SBA).

The awards are:

  • $702,765 over two years from EDA to be matched 1-1 by BioSTL, the new organization driving growth of the St. Louis bioscience cluster. In addition to BioSTL, applicants were the St. Louis County Economic Council, BioGenerator and Center for Emerging Technologies (CET). Funds will be used to support new company creation and development and entrepreneur training. 
  • $973,014 over four years from ETA to the St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment (SLATE), which will work in conjunction with the St. Louis County Workforce Investment Board to fund on-the-job training for professional, displaced workers in newly-created jobs in bioscience companies. 
  • $150,000 over two years from SBA to the St. Louis Minority Supplier Development Council (MSDC) to work with minority and disadvantaged businesses interested in providing goods and services to bioscience companies.

Each of the grants will be administered individually by the recipient organizations, but there will be a joint coordinating committee of representatives from each organization to insure collaboration and leveraging of resources.

Funding from EDA plus the matching funds will be used to build entrepreneurial capacity to further a grow-our-own strategy, increasing the number and accelerating the development of successful entrepreneurial, bioscience companies and creating high-wage jobs. The BioGenerator will engage several full and part-time Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIRs), who will be selected for their successful entrepreneurial experience, industry knowledge and strategic networks in targeted bioscience sectors that are particularly strong in the St. Louis region, such as: medical therapeutics, diagnostics, instruments and devices; healthcare services and technologies; plant and agriculture sciences; and bioenergy. EIRs will focus on accelerating the development of a portfolio of companies, as well as advise other start-ups in the region. One EIR will be engaged half-time in managing CET’s Bio Entrepreneur Development (BED) Program.

Funding from ETA will be used by SLATE, working with the St. Louis County Division of Workforce Development, to provide on-the-job training for individuals hired by the bioscience start-ups as well as established bioscience companies. They will sponsor a series of forums to attract displaced workers, with special outreach to minority individuals, to inform them of opportunities in bioscience. 

Funding from SBA to MSDC will be used for outreach to and engagement of minority and women business-owners who are interested in starting a bioscience company or providing products or services to bioscience companies.  They will advise individual companies and sponsor information programs to expose them to potential business opportunities in serving the range of needs of bioscience companies.

A year ago, a similar regional partnership was one of six winners of the national EDA i6 Challenge Grant to establish an innovative program accelerating the commercialization of bioscience technologies through new company creation.  It is expected that there will be more of such collaborative grant opportunities. A priority of the newly-formed BioSTL is the facilitation of a regional bioscience collaboration that proved so successful in obtaining the i6 and Jobs Accelerator grants. Under the leadership of BioSTL, the St. Louis region will be well positioned to be competitive in future grant applications.