St. Louis’ current position as a global leader in plant science and biotech didn’t happen overnight. Instead, careful planning over the course of two decades laid the foundation for the booming startup ecosystem in St. Louis that we all enjoy today.
EQ got a chance to catch up with Maggie Crane, communications director at BioSTL, while she was performing her role as master of ceremonies at Startup Connection 2017. Crane gave a brief explanation of the founding story of Cortex to EQ in a live video interview at the event and discussed the regional collaborations that have transformed the St. Louis startup scene over the past 15 years.
A history of entrepreneurship
Using the downsizing of Pfizer as a concrete example: When the company announced that it was planning major layoffs in St. Louis due to globalization, the loss of yet another major employer was likely hit the local economy hard. Furthermore, losing Pfizer’s highly skilled scientific workforce threatened to deepen the St. Louis brain drain in the years ahead.
“So community leaders came together and said, ‘Hang on a second, we have to do better than that,’” Crane explained, recalling the mindset of the day.
BioSTL decided to identify regional influencers to work with, effectively treating St. Louis — the city — as a startup, to lay out a plan of action and set the region on a path for growth. Instead of focusing on its weaknesses, they started by evaluating St. Louis’ strengths.
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