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Biotech Start-ups in St. Louis Aided by New Initiatives

June 27, 2003

The St. Louis BioBelt announced this week it is well along in launching four new initiatives designed to position the region as a "location of choice" for start-up and evolving plant and life science companies.

Two research and commercialization projects are in the planning and development stages, one located in a 1,000-acre area of midtown-St. Louis called Technopolis and the other located in the City of Creve Coeur in St. Louis County. When finished, these two areas will provide multi-tenant wet lab and related life sciences infrastructure.

Technopolis is a unique collaboration of key research institutions including Washington University, Saint Louis University, the University of Missouri-St. Louis, the Missouri Botanical Garden and the BJC Health Care System. Each of these institutions and the Center for Emerging Technologies – a 100,000-square-foot life sciences business incubator – plan to jointly capitalize on each other's research in what will be an urban advanced technology research district.

A second joint effort, between the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and The DESCO Group, includes development of up to 180,000 sq. ft. of wet lab space on eight acres of land adjacent to the Danforth Center in suburban St. Louis County. Similar to the urban effort, this new commercial research and development space will benefit from its proximity to the Danforth Center, the Monsanto Company world headquarters and the region's other life sciences business incubator, the Nidus Center for Scientific Enterprise.

The third initiative, the formation of a nonprofit Commercialization and Tech Transfer Center, will provide more than $5 million in proof-of-concept funding and entrepreneurial and pre-seed capital support to help create new life sciences companies.

The Commercialization Center was supported by feasibility funding from the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association and is being implemented by funding from the Danforth and McDonnell Foundations, the Monsanto Fund, and Bunge North America. The Center represents a collaboration among the technology transfer enterprises at Washington University and Saint Louis University, as well as the region's two advanced technology business incubators, the Center for Emerging Technologies and Nidus Center for Scientific Enterprise. The proof-of-concept funds will help insure a steady flow of new technology-based companies, providing deal flow for venture capitalists and companies to locate in the research districts.

In addition to $280 million raised in recent months via four locally-managed venture capital funds, the St. Louis BioBelt also has raised $12.5 million for a new pre-seed venture capital fund to invest in St. Louis-based early-stage life sciences companies, in conjunction with the Commercialization Center. Investors in this new fund include the Danforth and McDonnell Foundations and Washington University.

Fourth and finally, the St. Louis region is completing a feasibility assessment and plans to establish a $100 million, later-stage life sciences "Fund of Funds" that will also attract new institutional investors and venture capitalists to the St. Louis market. The proposed Fund of Funds will complement the early-stage funds already established in the St. Louis region.

More information on the St. Louis BioBelt is available at http://www.biobelt.org.

Missouri