"Don’t be afraid to have a big vision, but make sure it's a clear one." – Brad Feld, American entrepreneur
- The Cortex Innovation Hub impacts St. Louis in a big way.
- Bringing next-gen tech to Kansas City
- Glassdoor's 25 best cities for jobs
- How cities are building tomorrow's leaders
- Funding the Future
- Self-service retail goes to the next level.
- Name that Flyover City!
February 28, 2020
Cortex Innovation Hub and its impact on St. Louis
Photo courtesy Cortex Innovation Community
What began as a biosciences-focused research campus in 2002 has grown into a thriving 200-acre innovation hub in St. Louis. Growth was moderate at first, but then the Cortex Innovation Community diversified into all technology sectors, and things began to take off.
The Cortex Innovation Community is now home to more than 400 tenants—including big players like Microsoft and Boeing—along with researchers, startups, project teams, and entrepreneurs. Altogether, the community boasts a technology-related workforce of 6,000 people, with coworking spaces, offices, labs, conference rooms, state-of-the-art resources, and a host of amenities.
Last year, the CIC commissioned Ohio-based research firm TEConomy to study the economic impact of the hub on the region from 2002 to 2018. The findings are impressive. For instance: “In 2018, the direct economic output of the community was $1 billion, with a combined regional output of $2.1 billion. By 2018, Cortex companies had attracted $392 million in entrepreneurial investment capital and contributed to $950 million in neighborhood retail and residential redevelopment.” Employees working at Cortex generated approximately $250M in state and federal tax revenues.
The report offers a detailed look at the various ways Cortex has contributed to economic and community development in the region, as well as its functional impact in the areas of R&D, entrepreneurial support, venture funding, education and workforce development, and marketing and awareness building.
Tesseract Ventures brings next-gen tech to KC
Kansas City’s Tesseract Ventures makes a pretty bold claim: “We enable businesses to defy the boundaries of space and time through next-generation technologies.” What tech would that be, exactly? Stuff like “robots, smart spaces, wearables, and radically connected platforms.” The company is clearly not afraid of bold statements in general, declaring KC to be “America’s most quietly revolutionary place.”
Launched in 2018, Tesseract has raised nearly $15 million of capital—all of it local. Founder and inventor John Boucard doesn’t think the company needs to look elsewhere for funding. And he’s all-in with KC’s growing entrepreneurial community.
“We are committed to fostering innovation in Kansas City and the Midwest. It’s wonderful to work with a team that understands the potential of this space. The process has been seamless so far and we’re looking forward to working together to build something special.”
Glassdoor has released its list of the 25 best cities for jobs in 2020 and eight out of the top ten are flyover cities, with Raleigh leading the pack.
A senior economic analyst at Glassdoor Amanda Stansell said, "The majority of the cities on this year's full list are found in the Midwest and south, with very few on or near the west coast. Many of these mid-sized cities like Pittsburgh and Austin are growing tech hubs with a healthy number of open jobs and much more affordable housing prices compared to bigger tech hubs like NYC and San Francisco."
Raleigh is number one. Flyover cities make up 9 out of the top 10:
- St. Louis
- Hartford, CT
- Birmingham, AL
Notable is that Ohio is home to three of the best cities for jobs, more than any other state: Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Columbus.
To see the entire ranking, read the methodology and some of the prominent takeaways, click here.
ImprovEdge takes business training to a new level
Karen Hough knows a thing or two about improvisation. And her background as a professional actor and improvisor led her to develop an approach to business training that incorporates “an improv twist.” Her Columbus-based company, ImprovEdge, has delivered that training to 500K people worldwide, and it has more than 50 Fortune 500 clients. A scrolling list on the company website shows a diverse mix, including JPMorgan Chase, the U.S. Army, Coca-Cola Enterprises, NASA, ESPN, and Duke University.
So what exactly is ImprovEdge all about? The company offers coaching, workshops, keynotes, and e-learning to equip business professionals to be more nimble when dealing with mistakes, surprises, and the unexpected. In an interview with Entrepreneurs of Columbus, Hough described it this way:
“We combine the powerful behaviors of adaptability, flexibility, and think-on-your-feet success from improv with research in neuroscience and human behavior. Your leaders and teams walk out with real skills they can use immediately for better outcomes and knowledge that will help them grow for their entire career.”
In a nutshell, the company says, “Improv makes you better at everything.”
BioGenerator breaks the VC mold using a talent-first model
St. Louis biotech investor BioGenerator is taking an innovative approach to funding. Instead of evaluating pitches and choosing which companies to invest in, it’s building management teams and empowering them to create the kinds of companies they think have a strong chance of market success.
BioGenerator has adopted this approach because in St. Louis, it’s harder to find experienced managers than it is to find money. The company began to address the management shortage by establishing its entrepreneurs-in- residence program in 2011, along with the more recent Venture Capital Fellows Program. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, BioGenerator spent $800,000 last year to develop talent.
In 2017, the firm tapped two of its homegrown entrepreneurs to form a team and tasked it with finding promising technologies. The result was Canopy Biosciences, which now employs 50 people and has raised more than $4M in capital. BioGenerator also launched two additional companies last year using the talent-first approach: Cadre Bioscience and Wellth Holdings.
Green Courte Partners acquires another land-lease community
Chicago-based real estate investment firm Green Courte Partners LLC has acquired an “all-age, land-lease community" in Independence, MO. This is its 11th land-lease acquisition.
Pittsburgh biotech co. to receive funding for drug research
Peptilogics, a young Pittsburgh-based biotech company focused on providing solutions for drug-resistant bacterial infections, announced an agreement with CARB-X through which it is eligible to receive as much as $12.17 million.
Madison’s Ionic lands $6M
Software company Ionic, based in Madison, has secured $6 million in new funding, bringing the total capital raised to $18 million. The funding was led by Arthur Ventures and General Catalyst.
HealthJoy lands $30M in Series C funding
“Benefits experience platform” HealthJoy has announced a $30 million Series C round of funding led by Health Velocity Capital. Located in Chicago, HealthJoy uses AI to help employees get the most from their healthcare benefits.
Indiana’s DOT issues $120.8M in transportation funding
The Indiana Department of Transportation says it has issued $120.8 million of federal transportation funding to “52 cities, towns, and counties in rural portions of Indiana to support local road, bridge, and sidewalk projects.”
Troy, MI, intelligent supply chain platform raises $15M
Algo, a Michigan-based innovator of supply chain technologies, recently announced that it has raised $15 million from Integrity Growth Partners.
Columbus entrepreneur takes self-service retail to the next level
Photo courtesy Popcom
You know those vending machines that tempt you with a bag of mid-morning Doritos, take your money, and then refuse to deliver the goods? Well PopCom ain’t that.
Based in Columbus, OH, PopCom has taken the vending machine/kiosk concept and sent it headlong into the future. The “intelligent vending platform” can accommodate way more than Doritos, too. Like roll-up flat shoes for those who need a break from foot-killing high heels—which is what inspired founder and CEO Dawn Dickson to develop the automated retail technology that became PopCom. Vending machine shoes. Oh hell yeah.
But the retail platform can do much, much more.
Dickson also knew the company needed to address current demands, like storefront reporting, crowd metrics, demographics, lead generation, and biometrics. So her company has taken full advantage of the tech to make that happen. For instance, face recognition and AI can provide omnichannel data such as traffic, engagement, and sentiment trends.
As Dickson summed it up, “Our mission is simple: equip entrepreneurs and brands with future-ready retail solutions that allow rapid retail expansion, incredible customer experiences, and powerful sales data to power the future of retail.”
It's ... Name that Flyover city!
Useless information that is strangely fascinating.
- The Budweiser Clydesdales have been the spokes-horses for the brand for 80 years. In what city were they introduced?
- Back in 2012, this city's symphony orchestra was in a deep financial crisis until Kid Rock--yes Kid Rock--threw a benefit concert.
- Geraldine Fredritz Mock became the first woman to fly solo around the world in 1964, starting and ending in this city.
Click here for today's answers.
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