Meet the Innovation Team

The computer scientist Alan Kay once said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” The Danforth Center’s mission is all about creating a better future, and members of the new Innovation team - Stephanie Regagnon, Claire Kinlaw, and Tom Laurita - are contributing in unique ways to move our discoveries into places where they can have impact.

Stephanie, Claire, and Tom are unique in their roles and what they bring to the Center. Stephanie has worked in agriculture and renewable energy for nearly 20 years, including most recently as CEO of FieldWatch. Her role is to build partnerships to grow and strengthen the innovation ecosystem (e.g. attract new companies to BRDG and EDGE facilities) within and around the Center. Tom, a serial entrepreneur and former CEO of NewLeaf Symbiotics at BRDG, is leading efforts to create more start-up companies based on Danforth Center science and technologies. Claire, a “scientist with a business degree” as she points out, facilitates the capture and development of intellectual property emerging from Center labs. It’s a unique team with intention to bridge the gap between the Center’s great science and impactful companies and organizations that can help deliver benefits.

The team wants to create an environment where it is natural for scientists to think about commercial applicability of their research. “It doesn’t mean everyone has to do a startup, but we want to help drive the mentality of taking fundamental science and connecting it to the real world,” says Tom. They want to create a culture and community across the broader campus, including BRDG and EDGE@BRDG. “We want to recruit new companies, enhance our ecosystem, and make sure companies feel connected to each other,” says Stephanie. And through events like AgTech NEXT and programs like the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator, they want to develop platforms that serve as entry points for partners to our community.

“Part of the Danforth Center’s mission is to enhance the St. Louis region as a world center for plant science, which is how we can deliver on other parts of our mission around food and the environment,” explains Stephanie. “It’s how we can move discoveries into the marketplace so they can reach real people,” says Stephanie.

Join our Innovation team at AgTech NEXT, a virtual conference series from the Danforth Center, starting September 22.