The University of Missouri-St. Louis launches Gateway Accelerate, first Midwest Program for International Entrepreneurs

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The University of Missouri-St. Louis, in partnership with Civic Progress, the St. Louis Mosaic Project,  Global EIR Coalition and Arch Grants, announced the launch of Gateway Accelerate, Powered by UMSL Accelerate.

The goal of the program is to attract entrepreneurs from around the world to grow businesses in St. Louis, adding new revenue streams and employment opportunities for the local economy, innovation ecosystem and native-born students.

Dan Lauer
Dan Lauer, UMSL alum, serial entrepreneur and founder of Waterbabies, returned to the University of Missouri–St. Louis to launch UMSL Accelerate.

“Launching the first Midwest program for international entrepreneurs through University of Missouri-St. Louis will be critical to seeing this important program expand to other regional universities in the coming years. St. Louis seeks to become more global,” said St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay in a statement. “As international entrepreneurial companies see that St. Louis offers entrepreneurial culture coupled with high quality of life and low cost of living, they will look to affiliate with our local universities and add job growth to St. Louis.”

Gateway Accelerate will assist selected entrepreneurs with cap-exempt H-1B visa applications, enrollment in a 12-week boot camp, discounted office space, network development, mentorship and access to capital. Entrepreneurs selected will be based at UMSL and will connect to key mentors and supporters for each business’ needs.

Ginger Imster, executive director of Arch Grants, says the group looks forward to their contribution to regional growth through this program. “Arch Grants has the expertise to assist Gateway Accelerate in the review and selection of the most promising international companies. We will help UMSL this first year and look forward to helping more local universities as they join the program in the following years.”

Coming on as founding executive director for Gateway Accelerate is Dan Lauer, an alum of UMSL’s business school, serial entrepreneur and founder of Waterbabies. He returned to the UMSL this spring to launch the program.

“UMSL is doing a lot of great things in the areas of innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Lauer in a statement. “Accelerate will support and enhance these various resources and present the public with a unified message about entrepreneurship at UMSL.”

The entrepreneurs invited to participate will advance the mission of UMSL by contributing to academic research, developing coursework, providing students with internship and employment opportunities and/or serving as mentors. This program will serve as a model for other universities in the region, with the potential to add hundreds of jobs to the St. Louis regional economy.

“It’s fitting that the University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL) will be the first university in the Midwest to launch this program, UMSL attracts talent from around the world and having international entrepreneurs located at the university will provide opportunities for student internships and research positions,” said County Executive Steve Stenger in a Statement. “Gateway Accelerate will create a bridge to new technology and jobs for our region.”

Betsy Cohen, executive director of St. Louis Mosaic Project, agrees. “The St. Louis region has 9,000 international students on an ongoing basis” she said in a statement. “This program is one way to foster innovation while retaining international talent that has been educated here, as some of these students have started successful businesses.”

Civic Progress also sees the value in UMSL Accelerate and contributed $50,000.  “Civic Progress sees the need to retain and attract international entrepreneurs to St. Louis. This contribution will act as a catalyst for the region, because UMSL can bring international awareness to the website and process for international entrepreneurs to come to St. Louis. Following UMSL’s first cohort group, we expect  to be working with our other universities to bring them into the Gateway Accelerate model in the following years, allowing international entrepreneurs to access a visa through the entrepreneurial company’s contribution to the host university,” said Tom Irwin, executive director, Civic Progress.

Applications will be accepted at gatewayaccelerate.com.