St. Louis -- Officials from three federal agencies visited St. Louis on Tuesday to applaud the region's efforts to boost bioscience businesses.
Matt S. Erskine, of the Economic Development Administration; Lance Potts, of the Employment and Training Administration; and Pat Brown-Dixon of the Small Business Administration gathered at the Center for Emerging Technologies, in the Central West End to congratulate the city's bioscience business leaders for receiving two major grants in recent years.
In 2010, a collective of area research and business entities headed by the Coalition for Plant and Life Sciences and BioGenerator won a grant, known as the i6 Challenge Grant. The grant, worth $1 million, supports science-based entrepreneurship with the goal of developing research into commercial opportunities.
In October of 2011, BioSTL, a newly launched bioscience booster that replaced the coalition, along with the St. Louis Economic Council, BioGenerator and the Center for Emerging Technologies, won a $1.8 million grant. The grant was part of a larger $37 million grant known as the Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge, aimed at supporting 20 high-growth industry clusters.
“St. Louis is the only organization in the country to win both awards, and the only bioscience cluster,” said Marcia Mellitz, a vice president for BioSTL. “They're here to highlight that point.”
Mellitz said that, since the awards were given, eight bioscience companies had been formed from the i6 grant alone.
She also explained that the grant were matched by BioSTL, which was a key in securing them.
“Without having a source like BioStl that had the resources to match those funds, we never would have gotten those awards,” she said.
A recent report completed by a Harvard University researcher for the Economic Development Administration ranked the St. Louis region's bioscience cluster seventh in the nation.