St. Louis Innovation Ecosystem: Talent, Capital, Facilities, and Networks
The St. Louis innovation ecosystem is a unique mix of talent, capital, facilities, and networks that create opportunities for startups to thrive and for individuals to find meaningful careers.
Benson Hill is an incredible example of the St. Louis innovation ecosystem at work. Co-founded by Danforth Center Principal Investigator Dr. Todd Mockler, Benson Hill chose to locate their headquarters in St. Louis because they knew they would have access to talent, investors, and facilities that were unparalleled. Today, Benson Hill is only the second “unicorn” in St. Louis, valued at over $1 billion.
Creating a Cradle to Career Pipeline
To develop talent and create economic opportunity, the Danforth Center has partnered with the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and University of Illinois Extension to create the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Food, Agriculture and Nutrition Innovation Center (JJK FAN). The mission of the JJK FAN Center is to provide quality youth and community programs in STEAM+Ag, food production, nutrition, and physical activity in East St. Louis and beyond.
"We're not just creating a program at the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Food Agriculture Nutrition Center, we're creating a pathway from cradle to career,” says Kris Callis-Duehl, Sally and Derick Driemeyer director of education research and outreach.
Recent News from the St. Louis AgTech Community
- The Brookings Institution calls St. Louis a ‘Rising Star’ in tech. “Employment data from 2020, the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, suggest St. Louis, Kansas City and a handful of other rising-star metros are poised for further progress,” states the article.
- BRDG Park is growing the future of agtech. Not only is BRDG attracting companies to St. Louis, but it also supports homegrown startups like CoverCress, uses CRISPR gene-editing tools to develop a new cover crop derived from pennycress.
- An analysis from the St. Louis Business Journal states that “St. Louis is not only on a strong footing when it comes to competing with peer metro areas, it’s showing signs of momentum in two categories key to fueling continued growth: exits and local VC fundraising.”
- With a look at the largest 155 metropolitan areas in the U.S., St. Louis came in at No. 21 for the most affordable places to live.