Volume 7 - May 2013
Missouri Legislature Adds Funds to Continue Robust Innovation and Investment Programs
BioSTL applauds the Missouri General Assembly for providing funding to continue Missouri Technology Corporation’s successful programs that support entrepreneurs and start-up companies, and grow jobs in Missouri. In particular, we thank Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey, Senate Appropriation Chair Kurt Schaefer, Speaker of the House Tim Jones, and House Budget Chair Rick Stream for their leadership.
Building Bridges with the Startup Nation
Israel, often referred to as Startup Nation, is a world leader in technology development and innovation and boasts more engineers and scientists per capita than any other country in the world. Medical and ag innovations have long been a particular strength in Israel. These innovations complement the bioscience assets in St. Louis, which is fortunate to have many existing relationships with Israel capitalizing on these common strengths. BioSTL, in collaboration with community partners, including the Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis, has established the St. Louis-Israel BioBridge to facilitate bilateral partnerships among St. Louis companies and innovators and counterparts in Israel. Emblematic of this bilateral cooperation are companies like BacterioScan and BioGlow who have established operations in St. Louis.
BioSTL participated – alongside the Missouri Biotechnology Association, the Jewish Federation of St. Louis, and the Missouri Department of Economic Development – in a trip to Israel to accelerate the emerging trend of Israeli companies partnering and locating in St. Louis. Missouri legislative leadership also joined the delegation, seeing firsthand the Israeli government’s role in fostering innovation.
St. Louis’ research and corporate strengths and geographic location make it a natural place to look for partnerships, investments, and technology in the agribusiness space. In April, five young Israeli agtech companies associated with the Trendlines incubator traveled to St. Louis for meetings with investors and corporate strategic partners. Highlights of the visit included presentations to members of the Global Agtech Investors Network and meetings with Monsanto and the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, both cornerstones of St. Louis’ excellence in agtech.
The Global Reach of St. Louis Startups
St. Louis has long been home to the headquarters of major global corporations. Among them are Monsanto and Sigma-Aldrich in the biosciences, who were born as startups in the region and grew into major multi-national businesses. More recently, Abengoa Bioenergy, the Spanish biofuels giant located its North American headquarters in St. Louis. Today, the international reach is seen among bioscience startups from day one. Below are a few examples of the global reach of St. Louis startups:
Pulse Therapeutics. Founded in St. Louis with investment from the BioGenerator and the Missouri Technology Corporation, Pulse Therapeutics is a vascular drug delivery device for blood clots in stroke patients led by former Stereotaxis scientist, Duke Creighton. In 2012, they began conducting their first-in-human clinical trials at two hospitals in Australia.
iNOVOTEC Animal Care brings products to the agricultural enterprise to enhance efficiency and increase production of foods and related products. Inovotec represents a research, development, and commercialization alliance with smaXtec Animal Care, a dynamic and innovative Austrian enterprise that has developed the leading system for monitoring, analyzing, and applying pH and temperature measurements in dairy cattle to enhance feed efficiency, milk production, and cattle health. The company is working on bringing its first product to market in the Americas and have already launched in Brazil.
Array Bridge is a biotechnology research tools and services company specializing in analytical tools and services targeting biotherapeutics, including systems for detection of host cell protein and DNA contaminants. Array Bridge is based in the BioGenerator Accelerator Labs with additional operations in Shandong, China. Officials from Zibo in Shandong Province visited St. Louis last year to further cooperation between the regions.
BacterioScan is a development stage company which has developed, patented, and clinically validated a unique electro-optic technology and instrument for rapidly detecting and quantifying bacterial infections in bodily fluids. The company was originally founded in Israel, but expanded to build its US presence in St. Louis as they pursue commercialization and expansion of their product lines.
Electrochaea, a company formed by Nidus Partners, employs a patent-pending biological process to convert low-cost and stranded electricity into pipeline-grade renewable natural gas. In 2011, Electrochaea was awarded a $1.2 million grant from the Danish government (EUDP) to demonstrate its technology at 250-kW scale. In this project, which is hosted by Aarhus University's Biogas Research Centre, Electrochaea is partnering with E.ON, Erdgas Zürich, ewz, and Nordjysk Elhandel. Currently underway, the project is expected to conclude by October 2013.
simMachines. Arnoldo Muller-Molina was one of the winners in the first round of Arch Grants, an international business plan competition established to attract entrepreneurs in any field to launch new, innovative businesses in St. Louis. After winning the $50,000 grant, Muller-Molina moved his similarity search engine company, simMachines, to St. Louis from his native Costa Rica. Since the relocation, simMachines has begun work with academic collaborators in St. Louis to apply its technology towards creating a way for computers to locate tumors in brain scans.
Immigration = Innovation: St. Louis Opens Its Doors
St. Louis attracted attention in March when an article in Bloomberg Businessweek spotlighted the region’s open-door policy when it comes to immigration. St. Louis has long been a magnet for international talent with 146 countries represented by the over 27,000 students graduating annually from St. Louis’ 30 four-year colleges and universities. These students represent a highly educated workforce, many of whom wish to remain in St. Louis and seek opportunities in the biosciences.
A new effort led by the St. Louis County Economic Council, the St. Louis Development Corporation, and the St. Louis Regional Chamber named Betsy Cohen, a former Nestlé Purina executive, as the first project director of the regional Immigration and Innovation Initiative. The Initiative focuses on attracting international talent to the area by boosting immigration.
Entrepreneur Spotlight: Eric Merle
Eric Merle is a St. Louis transplant originally from France. Prior to his Midwest move, Eric worked with startups out of his office at the Cambridge Innovation Center and founded the French American Biotech Springboard, an initiative developed in collaboration with the French American Chamber of Commerce of New England to facilitate French bio-entrepreneurs in their US endeavors.
Eric plans to replicate and expand the initiative in St. Louis by working with St. Louis’ sister city, Lyon, France, home to headquarters for biotech giants such as BioMérieux and Sanofi Pasteur. He currently works out of Lab1500, an entrepreneurial center in downtown St. Louis.
News About the Biosciences in St. Louis
- Adarza BioSystems books investment led by BioGenerator [Dow Jones Venture Wire]
- Record number of students & scientists turn out for University of Missouri Life Sciences Week [Columbia Daily Tribune]
- Monsanto Announces $400 Million St. Louis Expansion Plan at Chesterfield Village Research Center [Monsanto]
- Monsanto plans big expansion in Chesterfield [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]
- Benson Hill raises $300,000, R&D under way [St. Louis Business Journal]
- What the ‘Start-Up Nation’ can do for farmers – Israeli ag-tech companies visit St. Louis [The Times of Israel]
- Israeli startups meet in St. Louis [St. Louis Business Journal]
- Entrepreneurship in St. Louis featured on Nine Network’s Stay Tuned [Nine Network]
- Nine St. Louis companies seek funding at InvestMidwest [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]
- First Robotics competition brings 30,000 downtown [St. Louis Business Journal]
- Israeli high-tech start ups visit STL on U.S. ‘roadshow’ [St. Louis Jewish Light]