A Vibrant Startup Ecosystem of Technology Incubators & Accelerators Leading the Target Industries of Missouri

Dr Mehmet Yildiz

What can entrepreneurs learn from the Missouri technology ecosystem?

Photo by Erick Todd from Pexels

Openness and transparency offer great value to residents. People want to be heard and acknowledged. We want our problems to be addressed timely.

To this end, Missouri has a unique law called the Sunshine Law. This law is the expression of Missouri's commitment to openness in government.

Screen Capture from Missouri Government Website

The foundation of Missouri's Sunshine Law is outlined in Chapter 610 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri. The government websites provide resources to help Missourians understand the Missouri Sunshine Law and its implications for public and quasi-public governmental bodies, members of those bodies, those that conduct business with a public governmental body, and private citizens. In addition, the details are provided in this 80 page PDF document.

Sunshine requests are unique to Missouri. Residents can make a Sunshine request to obtain records from the government office by emailing sunshinerequest@ago.mo.gov.

Many complaints are reviewed and addressed. This diagram shows the progress of handling requests.

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After this introduction to this blissful state, my aim is to introduce priority industries and glimpse the startup up ecosystem, including small business incubators and accelerators within the technology context. Even though these concepts are used interchangeably, there are differences. For example, accelerators focus on scaling their businesses, and incubators focus on innovation.

Economic priorities in the Missouri technology landscape

Screen Capture from Missouri Government Website

Missouri is the fourth most diverse economy in the US. It has one of the lowest costs of living. The government provides an environment with the necessary assets to help businesses succeed. As a result, entrepreneurship is highly regarded in this state.

Missouri government made economic priorities to build up and attract the fastest-growing industries and leaders in next-generation job creation. The critical industries for Missouri are automotive, biosciences, advanced manufacturing, financial services, health sciences, information technology, defence, transportation, and logistics.

Information technology entrepreneurship has a high focus in Missouri. The state is committed to providing incentives and financing for startups in the information technology industry. Let me introduce the key initiatives.

Screen Capture from Missouri Department of Economic Development

The Missouri Technology Corporation (MTC) is a public-private partnership. It fosters entrepreneurship and the growth of new and emerging high-tech companies. MTC focuses on modern industries. This partnership organization provides leadership making strategic investments to help entrepreneurs create and grow technology-based Missouri businesses.

MTC funds programs such as the Missouri IDEA Fund and the Missouri Technology Incentives. MTC has invested around $44 million for 135 early-stage Missouri-based high growth technology-focused companies, which have raised over $1 billion in additional private capital.

The purpose of MOSourceLink is to connect aspiring, emerging and established small businesses to a network of non-profit resource organizations. MOSourceLink aims to link resource organizations to one another. This free resource can help residents start or expand businesses in Missouri.

Screen Capture from MOSourLink Website

The Missouri Innovation Center Network is a significant resource for commercializing Missouri innovations. This network works closely with associated universities. Their purpose is to develop high-growth advanced technology companies. These centers provide specialized facilities, access to capital, technical and business experts, resources and specialized service providers during the early stages of developing new technology-based business ventures.

The ITEN (IT Entrepreneur Network) was established in 2008. It is a non-profit organization being a catalyst of Missouri’s IT ecosystem.

Screen Capture from ITEN Website

ITEN is manifested by the St. Louis IT Coalition and Innovate St. Louis providing unique programs, events, and access to resources that accelerate tech venture success. The network serves over 220 start-up ventures and involves over 120 volunteer mentors

ITEN’s success is measured by the success of the entrepreneurs they support. Diversity, equality, and inclusiveness are prime goals of this organisation. The network engages a diverse community of aspiring entrepreneurs with peers, mentors, corporations and other entrepreneur support organizations to advance their commercialization journey developing new innovations and launching successful new businesses.

Screen Capture from ITEN Website

You can learn about ITEN from this YouTube video.

The Missouri entrepreneurship ecosystem has multiple technology accelerators, incubators, and academic entrepreneurship organizations. Let me introduce some leading accelerators, their mission and focus at a high level. The Missouri Department of Economic Development is a hub bringing the resources of this ecosystem together.

Capital Innovators includes experienced entrepreneurs, investors, corporate innovation leaders, authors, speakers. It provides seed funding, mentorship, resources and connections through its unique high-touch accelerator.

SixThirty is a venture fund that invests in early-stage enterprise technology companies worldwide, building financial technology, insurance technology, digital health, and cybersecurity solutions. The network connects these solutions with corporate incumbents through its “Go-To-Market Program”.

ThinkBig Partners focus on smart city design, building, and implementation. The organization analyzes opportunities to develop public and private partnerships to maximize residents experience and city success. It has the “Smart City Civic Innovation Lab Partnership Program”.

The program helps communities create their own public-private partnership platform to engage their city, companies, innovators, entrepreneurs and citizens to work together, co-creating a brighter future.

Yield Lab’s mission is to enable entrepreneurs to revolutionize agriculture food systems sustainably. The organization invests in and accelerates high-impact early-stage companies. The organization also provides educational resources and ecosystem building support through their non-profit branch, the Yield Lab Institute.​

Prosper Capital includes an accelerator program called PWE (“Prosper Women Entrepreneurs). The purpose of this program is to advance women-led companies. PWE is a for-profit organization focused on increasing women entrepreneurs' access to growth capital and the number of women investing in early-stage capital markets.

Screen Capture from PWE Website

BioResearch & Development Growth (BRDG) Park serves16 enterprises, employing 400 people and covering 270,000 square feet. These companies include startups and mid-stage companies that have grown in the ecosystem. The community can participate in a joint task force to enhance networking, health, wellness and business growth. Companies interact with leading plant scientists and access more than $40M in core technologies at the Danforth Center.

There are many technology incubators. The goals of incubators are to support startups ventures and empower them by providing resources related to modern technologies and innovations. Unfortunately, it is not possible to include the roles and responsibilities of each incubator.

However, I’d like to introduce at least their names for awareness. Some established technology incubators in Missouri are:

BioGenerator, Codefi, Center for Emerging Technologies, Nidus Partners, Helix Center Biotech Incubator, Innovation Stockyard, T-REX, Newman Innovation Center, Jordan Valley Innovation Center, Life Science Business Incubator, Innovative Technology Enterprises at UMSL, and Southeast Missouri Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

To support this ecosystem requires cybersecurity capabilities. Parameter and security, and forensic testing are the focus of the information technology sector. Parameter Security™ is an ethical hacking firm in Missouri. It was established to protect businesses, government, healthcare, financial and educational institutions from hackers.

The ethical hackers of this company emulate the minds and motives of malicious attackers to test the security of the network and people. The company specializes in computer technology, digital forensics, mobile phone and PDA forensics, data and password recovery. You can find out the details in this YouTube video also linked to the government site.

The Missouri technology ecosystem offers many entrepreneurship programs. Some of the valuable entrepreneurship education programs are provided by the University of Missouri, Southeast Missouri State University, Saint Louis University, Northwest Missouri State University Missouri Western State University, Prosper Women Entrepreneurs, Pipeline, and Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute.

The technology entrepreneurship ecosystem is rich and vital in Missouri. The components and elements of the ecosystem are well connected and led by the Department of Economic Development in the state.

The department (DED) works to create a business ecosystem that encourages economic growth by supporting Missouri’s businesses and diverse industries, strengthening communities, developing a talented and skilled workforce, and maintaining a high quality of life.

Under Governor Parson’s leadership:

Screen Capture from Governor's Website
“Missouri has experienced a booming economy with record low unemployment, high wage growth, and billions of dollars in business and infrastructure investments. In 2018, Governor Parson signed the largest income tax cut in Missouri history and had continuously worked with the General Assembly to pass fiscally responsible and conservative budgets.”

Thank you for reading my perspectives.

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I write about important and valuable life lessons. My goal is to delight my readers. My content aims to inform and engage my readers. I'm a technologist, cognitive scientist, and postdoctoral researcher, with four decades of experience.


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