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“If they are looking for business connections—which many are—they take us very seriously when they learn of St. Louis’ story, our assets and our collaborative environment.”
Those were the words of Donn Rubin last winter when we first sat down with him to discuss GlobalSTL’s potential impact on the region.
Just one year later and the GlobalSTL initiative–created under the umbrella of BioSTL in 2014–can now boast five international startup companies that have chosen St. Louis for their US base, three more that have enrolled in St. Louis’ accelerator programs and more than two dozen other companies in discussion with strategic partners in the St. Louis region in healthcare, FinTech and AgTech.
Further still, in the last month, two companies–one from Israel and another from Ireland– that are involved with the GlobalSTL initiative, announced major partnerships with a major US-based company and a local university, respectively. Both of these partnerships have the potential to significantly alter economic growth in the region. As a reminder, Global STL’s mission is to create high-growth economic activity for St. Louis by attracting innovative companies from around the world to the region. One year in, we’d say they’re doing well on that promise.
More lnnovation from Israel
“The companies that we attract to St. Louis often aren’t early-stage,” says Rubin. “They are companies with product and revenues and looking for that next step, a US partnership, new markets. That’s where we can help them.”
Atomation, a tech company based out of Tel Aviv is one such company. Just three years old, the startup has created an Internet of Things (IoT) platform that connects physical objects to the internet. Announced last month, they are set to use this technology in a pilot partnership with Ameren to place sensors on utility poles. As they monitor the poles, they can then better predict which poles need replacing, saving money for Ameren and saving Ameren’s client base from frustrating power outages.
“Their technology is very flexible,” says Rubin. “You essentially could attach it to any ‘dumb’ thing to make it smart.”
Atomation joins four other firms from Israel, Kaiima Bio-Agritech, Forrest Innovations, Evogene and NRGene, all of which have benefited from the easy access to decision makers in St. Louis. They look to add to their numbers (18 already in Tel Aviv) with up to 20 jobs initially in St. Louis, mostly in sales and business development.
Other Israeli technologies that GlobalSTL connected to St. Louis’ ecosystem include two cybersecurity companies now in the SixThirty CYBER accelerator in Downtown St. Louis and one FinTech company in SixThirty’s FinTech program.
Luck of the Irish
In 2016, BioSTL expanded its reach into Ireland. During a trip to the Emerald Isle this summer, led by Rubin and Vijay Chauhan, St. Louis project lead of GlobalSTL, a partnership was born with Enterprise Ireland, a government agency that works to promote Irish business interests globally.
“We very quickly validated Enterprise Ireland as a great source of technology that fits well with St. Louis’ strengths,” says Rubin. “Their mission is broad in terms of promoting technological development–from investing in research to helping Irish companies find partners in the US and around the world.”
One company has experienced a rapid success story with St. Louis’ biosciences community.
Beats Medical is a smartphone app that assists those afflicted with Parkinson’s with their gait, dexterity and voice. The company’s CEO, Ciara Clancy, met Rubin and Chauhan and mentioned she was looking for more research opportunities. They introduced her to BioSTL Board Member and Dean of Washington University’s School of Medicine David Perlmutter and within 40 days Clancy had applied for a grant to jointly conduct a clinical trial along with WashU’s Director of Physical Therapy, Gammon Earhart. Beats Medical received the grant, and along with connections with the St. Louis chapter of the American Parkinson’s Disease Association and local communities like the Delmar Gardens network, is already altering the lives of Parkinson’s sufferers for the better in St. Louis.
“We view it as a win-win-win situation,” says Rubin about GlobalSTL’s work in bringing innovative international companies to the region’s universities, companies and startup ecosystem. The region wins by welcoming new sources of job, revenue and technology into the community; the companies win as BioSTL facilitates access to strong partners and customers; and local corporations and universities win as strategic partnerships with nimble and innovative technology and startups are created.
“As long as a company decided to plant their base here, GlobalSTL will help them,” says Rubin. “We want companies that choose St. Louis to still be here in 10 years, and be here in an even bigger way.”