Support, Funding and Space for New Businesses to Thrive
Greater St. Louis has always encouraged a spirit of innovation. In the last century, the region fostered the birth and growth of some of America’s best-known companies, like Edward Jones, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and World Wide Technology — the nation's largest Black-owned business. Now, the region’s burgeoning startup scene has launched a new wave of innovative businesses driving the St. Louis economy.
This growth is supported by multiple research hubs, strong corporate sponsors and highly skilled entrepreneurs. And the experts have taken notice: The region has garnered a host of top rankings reflecting its tightly integrated startup ecosystem, including Entrepreneur's #1 Heartland City Essential to the Future of American Innovation one of Inc's 50 Best Places in America for Starting a Business.
The first thing that helped us get started and expand our company in St. Louis was the incredible relationship among universities in the region and startup organizations. And the second was the willingness from the local business ecosystem to support and engage with startups.
Incubators, Accelerators and Coworking Spaces
Many startups in the St. Louis community receive crucial support from the growing number of incubators, accelerators and coworking spaces that help entrepreneurs collaborate and share ideas. Many of these spaces offer general support, but others focus specifically on key regional industries like agtech and geospatial.
One of the nation’s largest innovation districts, Cortex sits between the medical schools of Saint Louis University and Washington University in St. Louis. The 200-acre district currently houses 425 companies through private investment of almost $1 billion — including a $100 million investment by Wexford Science and Technology — out of what is ultimately planned to be a $2.5 billion, 4.5 million-square-foot mixed-use development with more than 600 companies and 15,000 employees.
St. Louis welcomed Cambridge Innovation Center’s first location outside of Massachusetts. Today, its three St. Louis locations provide a combined 160,000 square feet of office space, coworking, wet lab facilities, event spaces, and shared amenities.
The Duree Center for Entrepreneurship (DCE) enjoys a rich legacy offering experiential and entrepreneurial learning opportunities for university students and company founders. In 2020, Lindenwood University acquired the Innovation and Technology and Entrepreneur Network (ITEN), which itself was founded in 2008. ITEN helped tech entrepreneurs launch successful new business ventures by offering educational programs and services, all without requiring equity participation. Throughout its history, ITEN assisted hundreds of startups whose companies created over a thousand jobs and raised millions of dollars.
A biotech incubator located in 39 North, the Helix Center has both wet and dry labs, office space, and access to resources at the Danforth Center.
This coworking space in St. Charles, Missouri, calls the city’s renovated Old Post Office building home. OPO offers startups a range of services and networking events in St. Charles County.
This premier tech business incubator has 160,000 square feet of offices and conference, flex and events spaces, and houses 200+ startups and several support and funding organizations. T-REX is home to Moonshot Labs, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency's first nonclassified innovation center. Its $5 million Geospatial Innovation Center @ T-Rex, Powered by Bayer, is the first geospatial innovation center nationwide and supports geospatial technology companies and the NGA.
This city-wide ecosystem of coworking spaces offers four locations for creatives, business, and nonprofit professionals. Its artist-in-residence program offers local artists resources and exhibition opportunities, while showcasing both local and global art on its walls.
6,000 new businesses created annually
$2 billion venture capital awarded 2016-2020
45% startups that are woman-owned — one of the highest percentages in the U.S.
Venture capital investments in St. Louis startups totaled over $450 million in 2020, frequently in the fields of biosciences, information technology and financial services. The region is home to more than a dozen local angel and venture capital investors. Combined with increasing investments from national venture capital funds, St. Louis offers innovative entrepreneurs and businesses extensive opportunities to secure funding.
The range of investment firms and opportunities benefit a variety of industries and entrepreneurs. InvestMidwest, a venture capital conference held biennially in St. Louis, has raised more than $2 billion in investment over the last five years. Meanwhile, Arch Grants focuses on extraordinary and transformative entrepreneurs, annually awarding 20 companies $50,000 non-dilutive grants in exchange for headquartering their business in St. Louis City for one year. Other accelerator programs, like the ag-focused Yield Lab, Capital Innovators and its NGA Accelerator, and SixThirty, provide additional access to capital for many startups in the region.
And capital just keeps growing. Startup investment in the region has grown rapidly over the last decade, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only increased investors’ interest in local startups.
Startup Investment Growth
2011 – 2015: $1.3 billion
2016 – 2020: $2 billion
How Can We Help?
The work of our business attraction team is confidential, complimentary, and comprehensive. If you’re looking to consolidate, expand or move, we’re here to assist.
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