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New Programs in St. Louis, Twin Cities Connect Startups With Corporations

August 27, 2015

Recently announced programs in the St. Louis and Minneapolis-St. Paul regions offer startups and major corporations new chances to connect and work together. Pioneered by Illinois’ Corporate Startup Challenge, these types of programs seek to build bridges between important components of the innovation ecosystem: revolutionary new products and services and established market leaders.

ITEN, founded in 2008 as an initiative dedicated to servicing entrepreneurs in the St. Louis region’s IT ecosystem, announced its Corporate Engagement Program (CEP) earlier this summer with the intention of creating a closer relationship between corporations and startups in the region. Once startups apply to the CEP, ITEN works with their corporate partners to identify the ventures with the technologies, market focus, or solutions that are of the most interest to them or their customers. Once connections are made through events such as speed dating, individual matchmaking, or reverse pitch competitions, ITEN largely removes themself from the conversations. The founding corporate partners to be paired with startups are Daugherty Business Solutions, Enterprise Holdings, Monsanto, and Reinsurance Group of America (RGA).

In Minneapolis-St. Paul, startup support and networking organization Beta.MN announced a similar program called Beta/Bridge. This event offers select startups the opportunity to engage with and pitch their products/services to strategic representatives from major corporations, including Target, Microsoft, Best Buy, United Health Group, 3M and Boston Scientific. The event will take place on September 10 as part of Twin Cities Startup Week, of which Beta.MN is a partner.

Both programs lend similarities to the Illinois Corporate Startup Challenge, which announced its fourth cohort of corporate participants (Allstate Corporation, Caterpillar Inc., and Grainger) in July. Beginning in 2013 as a joint initiative of the Illinois Science and Technology Coalition and other state partners, the Illinois Corporate Startup Challenge program won an Excellence in TBED Award for most promising program at SSTI’s 2014 Annual Conference.

Learn Award Winning Best Practices at the SSTI 2015 Annual Conference
During the Power Roundtable: Achieving TBED Success session at the SSTI 2015 Annual Conference, the winners of the 2015 SSTI Excellence in TBED awards will share best practices, valuable insight, and lessons learned that have helped their organizations develop outstanding programs that create economic prosperity and well-paying jobs. This unique session format stimulates one-on-one conversations between participants and awardees helping you to improve your organization’s or region's performance. Don't miss this unique opportunity, register for this year's conference!




Minnesota, Missourientrepreneurship