Seven Institutions Join Forces to Take 39 North to the Next Phase of Growth

ST. LOUIS, MO, April 25, 2023In just six years since the 39 North Master Plan was unveiled, more than $120 million of private/public investment has been made to advance the goals outlined in the plan. To build on the momentum, seven institutions from the public/private sector have announced their commitment as anchor institutions and established 39 North AgTech Innovation District as a 501(c)3. The new organization will be responsible for elevating the innovation district to the next level of successful growth and economic impact.

Anchor institutions include: the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, Greater St. Louis, Inc., City of Creve Coeur, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, CoverCress, Inc., Benson Hill, and Bayer Crop Science. Mike DeCamp, CEO of CoverCress, will serve as the founding board chair.

In 2022, a special task force* was created to undertake a governance and strategy planning process to explore how best to leverage the assets and investments to create greater impact in 39 North and the broader St. Louis region. This process showed that successful innovation districts have anchor institutions that are committed to their success, a purpose and offers value. The value proposition of 39 North is clear, unique, and in demand. 39 North aims to be the agtech hub that brings together people, resources, and facilities to grow St. Louis’ economy and global reputation.

“With so much momentum, the task force and our anchor institutions understand that it is time to seize the opportunity to build on the early successes of the district to tap unmet potential, fill gaps and take 39 North and the region to the next level of economic growth and impact,” said DeCamp.

The founding board has moved rapidly, established its bylaws, and hired Emily Lohse-Busch as its first Executive Director. Lohse-Busch has spent much of her career studying and advising the philanthropic and social sectors, most recently as a consultant focused on projects to advance economic development in St. Louis. From 2017- 2022 she served as the Executive Director of Arch Grants, an organization that has attracted and retained over 200 startups to St. Louis since 2011.

“The vision for 39 North is bold – but as we continue to show what’s possible and build our reputation globally, I am confident that agtech leaders throughout the world will know our name – and will know that they can’t afford to sleep on what St. Louis has going on,” said Lohse-Busch.

“We are thrilled that we were able to hire Emily, who has such strong experience developing sustainable organizations that are making an impact in our region and has a clear vision for the path forward for 39 North,” said Stephanie Regagnon, executive director of Innovation Partnerships at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.

“Coming out of the STL 2030 Jobs Plan, our metro is focused on inclusive economic growth, and innovation districts are a critical success driver’” said Greater St. Louis Inc CEO, Jason Hall.
“39 North will be committed to collaborating with Cortex, Downtown North, T-REX and the full constellation of assets in our region to attract, retain, and scale innovation in myriad sectors and industries.”

“Today’s announcement represents a very important step in continuing the growth of Ag Technology and Innovation in the St. Louis community,” said Nikki Davis, global operations vice president of Climate LLC and Digital Farming at Bayer Crop Science. “Creating an environment for our brightest minds and new organizations benefits global food security and a sustainable future for all. Bayer is thrilled to be on the ground floor.”

The 39 North Master Plan was funded by a U.S. Department of Commerce Regional Innovation Strategies grant made to the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership in 2015. Following a year-long planning process engaging hundreds of stakeholders, the district brand was unveiled in December 2016.

39 North has key ingredients to support innovation, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and BRDG Park on its campus; affordable incubation space and BioGenerator labs at the Helix Center, access to critical infrastructure including greenhouses, bioimaging and key technologies, a growing talent pipeline from lab technicians to more than 1000 plant science PhDs; capital ranging from seed funding to late-stage investors; entrepreneurs and startups, industry leaders like Bayer Crop Science and successful exits like Benson Hill and CoverCress, Inc.

Most importantly, 39 North has access to customers with roughly half of all U.S. agriculture is produced within a 500-mile radius of St. Louis including 80% of corn and soybeans. The National Corn Growers, American Soybean Association, the United Soybean Board and other farmer-facing organizations are headquartered in the region and are committed to the district’s future success.

About 39 North
39 North is a vibrant innovation district in St. Louis County, MO that offers the infrastructure, talent, and access to capital to facilitate agri-food tech innovation. Through a robust network of scientists, startups, students, innovators, investors, and industry leaders, collaborations form and ideas are advanced from lab to market. 39 North recognizes that St. Louis has an opportunity to leverage its proximity to farms and food producers, its world-class research institutions, and its thriving innovation sector to create, attract, and retain the most promising agtech innovators to feed, fuel, and build the future. In 39 North we are working to create a more secure, agile and sustainable world.

*39 North Task Force Members

Melanie Bernds, VP-Public Relations, Rabo AgriFinance
Jim Carrington, President and CEO, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center
Rodney Crim, CEO and President, St. Louis Economic Development Partnership
Nikki Davis, Vice President of Operations, Climate LLC
Andy Dearing, President, Spatial STL Advisors
Mike DeCamp, CEO, CoverCress Inc.
Phyllis Ellison, Associate Vice Chancellor,Workforce Solutions Group, St. Louis Community College
Sam Fiorello, President & CEO, Cortex Innovation Community
Jason Hall, CEO, Greater St. Louis, Inc.
Ben Johnson, Vice President, Programs, BioSTL
Elliot Kellner, Senior Program Manager, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center
Matt Plummer, Vice President, AgriFood, Lewis & Clark Partners
Mark Perkins, City Administrator for the City of Creve Coeur
Stephanie Regagnon, Executive Director, Innovation Partnerships, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center
Karla Roeber, Vice President of Public and Government Affairs, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center
Martha Schlicher, Executive in Residence at BioGenerator; CEO, Plastomics; CEO, Impetus
Dave Tierney, Government Affairs, Bayer Crop Science
Janet Wilding, Vice President of Business Attraction, Greater St. Louis, Inc.


For more information contact: Karla Roeber,