BioSTL announced a five-year, $2.5 million grant from the Monsanto Company that will support the nonprofit’s work to promote regional economic growth and advance St. Louis’ standing as a leader in bioscience. Funding from Monsanto will allow BioSTL to step up its collaborative efforts to build a strong bioscience ecosystem that capitalizes on St. Louis’ world-class plant and medical science strengths. The announcement came during InvestMidwest 2014, a venture capital conference that showcases 40-45 companies from throughout the Midwest in the three industry tracks of life sciences, technology, and food/ag/bioenergy.
“St. Louis is home to a unique convergence of corporate, university, and entrepreneurial strengths that place our region among the world’s great bioscience centers. Monsanto has been a longtime collaborator with local universities and research institutions as well as an early supporter of regional entrepreneurial activities,” said Donn Rubin, president and CEO of BioSTL. “This contribution will help to advance St. Louis’ economy by further expanding the infrastructure necessary to grow St. Louis’ bioscience community.”
“Monsanto is proud to call St. Louis its home. The region’s collection of talent, research innovation, investment capital, startups, and corporate headquarters make it the world’s leading center for plant science and agricultural technology,” said Robert Fraley, Ph.D., executive vice president and chief technology officer at Monsanto. “We hope our partnership with BioSTL will further enhance St. Louis’ reputation as a dynamic and growing biosciences cluster.”
“We see real momentum in St. Louis’ innovation economy – from new startups launching to growth at the region’s universities and major corporations – and BioSTL serves as a focal point for the varied resources and activities supporting bioscience entrepreneurship and industry growth,” said Deborah Patterson, Monsanto’s vice president of employee engagement and global contributions. “Monsanto shares BioSTL’s vision and values its role in knitting together the fabric of St. Louis’ bioscience community. We look forward to continued collaboration in BioSTL’s multifaceted endeavor to create jobs and grow St. Louis’ economy through bioscience.”
Monsanto’s contribution will support many areas of BioSTL’s programming including efforts to:
- promote the regional collaboration that is critical to combining strengths to achieve regional goals and to building the trustful and cooperative environment that St. Louis’ bioscience community has become known for;
- increase awareness of and build a buzz about St. Louis’ strengths in bioscience among target audiences;
- promote inclusion in bioscience – helping to engage minorities and women, including scientists and entrepreneurs, in regional bioscience efforts;
- increase the availability of investment capital for St. Louis startups by growing investor awareness and cultivating new sources of capital for St. Louis companies;
- bolster St. Louis’ capacity to attract and retain a quality, diverse workforce and to build the region’s population of experienced entrepreneurs to lead emerging startups; and
- generate new successful, sustainable bioscience startups in the St. Louis region through BioSTL’s subsidiary, the BioGenerator, which provides pre-seed and seed investment funds, shared lab space with specialized equipment, and strategic support and access to networks to emerging bioscience startups. Since its inception, BioGenerator has helped launch 42 new seed and pre-seed stage startups in the St. Louis area.
Benson Hill, an agricultural biotechnology company that recently expanded to BRDG Park in St. Louis from North Carolina, is one of the innovative companies already benefiting from support of BioSTL and BioGenerator. “BioSTL and BioGenerator have demonstrated significant support for our company and our mission,” said Matthew B. Crisp, President and CEO of Benson Hill Biosystems, Inc. “This commitment by Monsanto will help to further strengthen the early-stage biosciences community in St. Louis.”