Volume 6 - April 2013
St. Louis Capital Continues Its Upward Trend
Since 2001, locally-managed venture capital in St. Louis has rapidly increased from $0 to over $1 billion. The increasingly robust capital environment involves a continuum of funding from pre-seed to later stage equity.
In March, St. Louis-based RiverVest Venture Partners’ Fund II was ranked among the top-performing venture capital funds in the United States by Cambridge Associates. While the median return for all reporting VC funds founded in 2006 was 4.54% through the end of 2012, RiverVest’s Fund II has returned 14.5%. Other venture capital firms in St. Louis include Prolog Ventures, Oakwood Medical Investors, and Ascension Health Ventures, who closed on a $225 million venture fund in January.
Early stage investors like the BioGenerator, the Billiken Angels, and the St. Louis Arch Angels are contributing to a robust environment. In particular, as angel investing has increased in importance nationally, the St. Louis Arch Angels have become an integral part of helping St. Louis companies achieve market success. Last year, the Angels demonstrated continued growth with $5.6 million in investments into sixteen local startups. Since the founding of the Angels eight years ago, they have invested over $31.5 million into 37 companies, almost 60% of which operate in the biosciences. Dr. William Danforth, Chancellor Emeritus of Washington University and founder and board member of BioSTL said, “The St. Louis Arch Angels fills the very important need of starting more small companies with potential for adding wealth and jobs to our community.”
Missouri Life Sciences Day at the Capitol
On March 26th, advocates of biosciences from across the state gathered in Jefferson City for the MOBIO Life Sciences Day at the Capitol to speak with legislators about the breadth of biosciences in Missouri and the impact a strong high-tech sector can have on the state’s economy. This annual event, organized by the Missouri Biotechnology Association, highlights the importance of biosciences for the economy in every region of Missouri. Attendees held briefings with legislators including Senator President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey (R – St. Charles), Rep. Sue Allen (R – Town and Country), Rep. Pat Conway (D – St. Joseph), Rep. Chuck Gatschenberger (R – Lake St. Louis), Rep. Jeanie Lauer (R – Blue Springs), Rep. Caleb Rowden (R – Columbia), and Rep. Stephen Webber (D – Columbia). Representatives from bioscience companies and organizations presented a unified message emphasizing the importance of funding for the Missouri Technology Corporation and the passage of a comprehensive innovation investment package like the Missouri Science and Innovation Reinvestment Act (MOSIRA).
MOSIRA had passed in the special legislative session of 2011. However, in a recent hearing by the Missouri Supreme Court the law was not upheld due to a contingency clause unrelated to the content of MOSIRA. In response to the Missouri Supreme Court’s decision, BioSTL president Donn Rubin said, “It’s unfortunate that MOSIRA had the contingency clause in the first place. There was overwhelming bipartisan support. Everyone understands that the state of Missouri needs to invest in its future and in building a 21st-century economy. That’s what MOSIRA was about, is about.”
Experience has shown that even modest levels of investment in the Missouri Technology Corporation has produced game-changing results for Missouri’s entrepreneurial and innovation economy. MTC helped launch and expand the Arch Grants program, the formation and expansion of the Information Technology Entrepreneur Network (ITEN), and the Bio Entrepreneur Development Program, as well as other initiatives. MTC's Idea Funds program has helped startup companies raise private capital.
St. Louis Ranked #1 in Tech Job Growth
St. Louis was highlighted in CNN Money as having the biggest year-over-year growth in technology jobs, increasing 25 percent, and ranking as the fasting-growing city for technology jobs in the country. Data came from a report of the tech jobs website Dice.com.
You can hear Jim Brasunas, Executive Director of the St. Louis Information Technology Entrepreneur Network, speaking about the report on NPR's ‘Here & Now.’ Click here to listen.
Collaborating in the Heartland
St. Louis is uniquely positioned based on its research strengths and geography to foster innovation and commercialization in the agricultural and medical sciences. This excellence is augmented through the complementary strengths of metros throughout the Midwest, especially in dialogue through the Heartland Civic Collaborative.
The Heartland Civic Collaborative, organized by the Kansas City Civic Council in 2009, aims to maximize competitiveness through cooperation among the Heartland metro areas, initially Des Moines, Kansas City, Omaha, and St. Louis. Through the collaboration, metros can further capitalize on regional strengths and collectively impact regional, national, and world challenges.
One area of focus has been leveraging the Heartlands’ shared strengths in bioscience and entrepreneurship. In December, HCC held a Life Sciences Forum in Kansas City, which provided an important first step towards an open dialog among the players in the different metros. Recently, BioSTL hosted representatives from HCC to highlight the unique assets and entrepreneurial activity in our region including the Regional Entrepreneurship Initiative, Innovate St. Louis, and the Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurship of Washington University.
Startup Challenge Opens with $100,000 in Cash Prizes
Now in its fourth year, the Startup Challenge (formerly St. Louis Regional Business Plan Competition), sponsored by Edward Jones and the St. Louis County Economic Council, will award the top three winners of the competition with cash prizes totaling $100,000 ($50,000, $30,000, $20,000 respectively) in addition to office space, mentoring, and top tier accounting, legal, and marketing services. Applications are due May 30.
News About the Biosciences in St. Louis
- BioGenerator Backs Antegrin Therapeutics [Dow Jones]
- Obama's Plan To Explore The Brain: A 'Most Audacious Project' – featuring Washington University [NPR]
- Polsinelli and Center for Emerging Technologies launch program to help St. Louis tech entrepreneurs [St. Louis Business Journal]
- EndoStim takes funding round to $11M [Mass Device]
- Sequestration Stupidity Is Genetic, Hitting Front-Line Medical Research [Huffington Post]
- Region wins OK to tap immigrant investor visas [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]
- St. Louis Invokes Lazarus for Immigrants With Dire Stakes [Bloomberg]
- AT&T gift to UMSL’s Opportunity Scholars now totals $500,000 [St. Louis Business Journal]
- Campus to market: Technology transfer remains a hurdle for area innovators [St. Louis Beacon]
- St. Louis doctor awarded $195,000 for multiple sclerosis research [St. Louis Business Journal]
- Barnes-Jewish Gets Initial Approval for Major Expansion [St. Louis Public Radio]