Program focuses on accelerating entrepreneurship in regional innovation ecosystems; St. Louis looking to leverage strengths in biosciences and geospatial to bolster regional economy

The prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program (MIT REAP) has selected St. Louis as a member of its ninth cohort, which will begin this summer. MIT REAP is a dynamic global initiative that engages with communities around the world to strengthen innovation-driven entrepreneurial ecosystems and transform economies. St. Louis’ team will use the opportunity to focus on growing its bioscience and geospatial sectors.

“The STL 2030 Jobs Plan called on the region to build on our strengths in established industries and to invest in and develop our next generation tech sectors,” said Jason Hall, CEO of Greater St. Louis, Inc., which will lead the St. Louis team in the program. “Participating in this prestigious program will further enhance our efforts in biosciences and geospatial technology and help us promote the type of innovation and entrepreneurship that will drive inclusive growth across the St. Louis metro over the next decade.”

MIT REAP Global teams participate in a two-year program focused on accelerating innovation-driven entrepreneurship (IDE) in their regional innovation ecosystems and are provided opportunities to collaborate with teams within and across their Cohort. Each team follows MIT REAP’s Innovation Ecosystem Stakeholder Model, with members representing the five major stakeholder groups that, in collaboration, can drive forward an IDE ecosystem: university, government, corporate, risk capital, and entrepreneurs.

The St. Louis team includes representatives from Greater St. Louis, Inc., BioSTL, GeoFutures, Cortex, Danforth Plant Science Center, and Pluton Biosciences, Inc.

The St. Louis metro area is investing in healthy and resilient industry cluster ecosystems that leverage regional strengths, specifically bioscience and geospatial/location sciences. St. Louis is also working to develop new strengths where these clusters intersect. St. Louis’ MIT REAP Team will look to take these innovation-intensive industries to the next level, promoting new strategies and ways of supporting entrepreneurs that translate the region’s academic and corporate R&D strengths into new innovation and new companies that leverage location sciences to deliver medical and agricultural innovation – helping deliver more productivity, exports, and higher pay. 

“We aim to generate and secure new businesses for St. Louis through enhanced and equitable resource offerings, including expanded entrepreneur supports, coordinated recruiting efforts, and robust workforce training,” said Ben Johnson, Vice President, Programs, for BioSTL.

St. Louis joins the MIT REAP cohort as part of the Heartland Civic Collaborative, which includes teams from three additional midwestern cities: Des Moines, Kansas City, and Omaha, which were supported in the effort by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. As one Midwest “mega-region,” the Heartland Civic Collaborative builds momentum through targeted civic initiatives and drives strategic, coordinated actions toward common goals.

In addition to the members of the Heartland Civic Collaborative, other regions participating in MIT REAP’s Cohort 9 are: Hungary, the Dominican Republic, Piauì, Brazil, and Western Australia.