Volume 3 - December 2012
Happy Holidays from the BioSTL Staff!
As this year winds down, we look back thankfully on all the exciting collaborations powering the growth of St. Louis’ bioscience cluster and innovation economy. We’ve been honored to work with local, state, national, and international partners to support entrepreneurs and their start-up companies, as well as our major corporations, and research institutions on the work these innovators continue to do to enhance St. Louis’ reputation as a center for solving the world’s food, fuel, and health challenges. We anticipate the exciting new possibilities and collaborations in the New Year. On behalf of the BioSTL staff, I wish you and all your coworkers, family, and friends a lovely holiday season filled with joy and meaning.
President & CEO
CORTEX Expands Hub of Technology and Innovation
The CORTEX bioscience district in midtown St. Louis is busy executing a 25-year master plan to position St. Louis as a premier international hub of bioscience and technology research, development, and commercialization. Located near the historic urban St. Louis neighborhoods adjacent to Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Washington University School of Medicine, and Saint Louis University, CORTEX’s first phase of development resulted in $155 million of investment and 950 jobs. With the success of Phase I, construction began on Phase II, which will add $186 million in investment and 1,400 jobs through the development of 384,000 square feet of additional lab and office space. As part of Phase II, Wexford Science & Technology, a Maryland-based, nationally recognized developer of nine university research parks, will invest $100 million through the purchase of the CORTEX I building and redevelopment of the historic 190,000 square foot Heritage warehouse property into new lab and office space. CORTEX represents Wexford’s second major commitment in St. Louis alongside BRDG Park at the Danforth Center. Additional public infrastructure improvements including a new “CORTEX Commons” public park, streetscape improvements, and a new Interstate 64 interchange will enhance the area for both CORTEX tenants and neighborhood residents.
Forum Targets Inclusion of Women- and Minority-Owned Businesses
On November 8, the Minority Supplier Development Council hosted a Biotech Opportunity Forum to introduce business owners and potential entrepreneurs from underrepresented groups to the bioscience industry. The event provided an introduction to the bioscience industry for small, women-owned, and minority-owned businesses, highlighting entrepreneurship and business development opportunities related to the biosciences. The event drew nearly 40 participants. Other attendees included representatives from federal, state, and local government agencies; academia; and organizations involved in supporting bioscience entrepreneurship in St. Louis.
The Biotech Opportunity Forum grew from the St. Louis Jobs & Innovation Accelerator Challenge grant aimed at developing and supporting bioscience talent in the region. The Jobs Accelerator collaboration – funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Department of Labor, and U.S. Small Business Administration – arose from conversations that originated at meetings of the St. Louis Bioscience Inclusion Initiative, convened since 2008 by BioSTL. The Inclusion Initiative is creating a network of organizations and individuals committed to collaborative action that increases inclusion within biosciences in St. Louis aimed at ensuring that every segment of the community is afforded opportunities to fully engage with and benefit from the growth of St. Louis’ bioscience economy.
Mobius Therapeutics Attracts $5 Million in Investment
In November, Mobius Therapeutics closed on a $5 million financing round to expand distribution and use of its new Mitosol product for use in glaucoma-related eye surgeries and explore potential use other in other areas. This new capital infusion culminates what has proved an exciting year for Mobius. After receiving Food and Drug Administration approval for Mitosol in February, Mobius began manufacturing its product kits in St. Louis with the help of locally-based Synergetics, made its first shipment in July, and was recently assigned a product-specific Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement code to facilitate more rapid reimbursement for providers.
Mobius Therapeutics was founded in Atlanta by Ed Timm in 2006. Ed moved the company to St. Louis in 2008 because of the strong cluster of medical device and drug discovery companies in the region, particularly micro-surgical device manufacturing. Mobius is located in the Center for Emerging Technologies, a biotech incubator in the CORTEX district and received early stage funding from the BioGenerator and the St. Louis County Economic Council.
Company Spotlight: Apse
Apse is a new company developing proprietary nanomaterials and methods that will dramatically lower the cost to manufacture and purify proteins and certain other molecules. The company recently received follow-on funding from the BioGenerator to further commercialization. While Apse’s technology could eventually have great impact on the development and manufacturing of protein-based drugs, the company is pursuing initial application in the agricultural market where the proteins Apse produces can serve as a way of protecting plants from pests that attack crop roots. Agricultural companies could dramatically reduce their cost of production with the use of Apse’s technology.
Apse’s focus on agricultural applications is emblematic of St. Louis’ position as a world ag-tech leader. As home to Monsanto’s world headquarters, the National Corn Growers Association, the Global Agtech Investors Network, and the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, St. Louis is the world’s premier location for ag-related innovation. To further its commercialization efforts, Apse recently attended the annual Ag Innovation Showcase hosted at the Danforth Center where they and other start-up companies connected with local and international ag-tech investors and corporate leaders.
Apse received its initial investment from the BioGenerator through St. Louis i6 investment program. The company also secured an investment from the Missouri Technology Corporation’s I.D.E.A. Funds initiative. These investments allowed Apse to expand by hiring two full time Ph.D. scientists to assist in research and development. Apse also utilizes the facilities and extensive equipment in the BioGenerator Accelerator Labs.
St. Louis Biosciences in the News
- Sigma-Aldrich makes Bloomberg’s Civic 50 list [Bloomberg Businessweek]
- Washington University Gets $50M for Translational Center, Genomic Medicine [GenomeWeb]
- Young Innovations to be acquired by Linden Capital for $314 million [St. Louis Business Journal]
- simMachines creating 'next generation search engine' [St. Louis Business Journal]
- Arch Grants: Round Two [St. Louis Public Radio]
- From Innovation Clusters to Datapalooza: Accelerating Innovation in Educational Technology [Educause Review]
- Appistry, 11 years old, remains one of St. Louis' most promising startups [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]