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Accessibility To Food Trucks Is Often Lacking Due To Location Issues

More than two decades after the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed, the ongoing food truck revolution remains largely inaccessible to those of us who use wheelchairs. Not because of the tricks themselves, but because of where they park.

From a 2013 post — Foods trucks at Third Degree’s open house require lining up on grass — a challenge for some.

In early September a proposed food truck park was in the news:

St. Louis may soon get its first food truck park — a regular gathering spot for some of the area’s best-regarded mobile kitchens. The proposed site is on a stretch of South Vandeventer Avenue — not far from the popular Grove entertainment district — that officials hope to regenerate with new businesses.

Some planning remains, and the park’s developers have yet to choose the project’s name. But they have a site and hope to conduct a food truck pop-up event there this fall.

If plans work out, next spring a rotating assemblage of food trucks will begin to operate daily on what is now an overgrown lot next to the long-ago home of Liberty Bell Oil Co. The vacant building at 1430 South Vandeventer will be redone as the joint commissary for the food trucks. (Post-Dispatch)

My hope is if this moves forward it’ll be designed so everyone can patronize the food trucks. Often I can’t reach the trucks parked downtown at one of my favorite spots: Citygarden.

Even downtown many access problems exist. Just walk up right?

Even downtown many access problems exist. Just walk up right?

No, in this case the window isn't lined up with the walk shown in the previous picture.

No, in this case the window isn’t lined up with the walk shown in the previous picture.

Market next to Citygarden is a very narrow strip of concrete. Enough to stand on but not enough for a wheelchair.

Even when the window is lined up it can still be a challenge if there are others in line.

When I started blogging 12+ years ago I argued for more food carts to activate streets — food trucks weren’t a thing yet. I still wish food carts were more common because they trend to be easier to access in a wheelchair. But trucks have replaced carts so now we need to ensure the public can access them.

— Steve Patterson


Gateway Venture Mentoring Service

Gateway Venture Mentoring Service, GVMS, was established in 2007 as one of the Saint Louis region’s first entrepreneur service organizations.  GVMS, originally IVMS, is build on the MIT VMS model, which is a team mentoring approach to helping emerging companies establish themselves and grow.

The chair of the GVMS is Pete Peters and KeAnna Daniels is the GVMS Executive Director.

GVMS has partnered with ITE to develop the FlipZone training program which will launch spring 2017.

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FlipZone – Entrepreneur Training for Established Ventures

ITE and Gateway Venture Mentoring Service have been awarded a grant from the Missouri Technology Corporation to pilot a new program for established ventures based on the Flip instructional method, called FlipZone.

Flip uses video training and advanced homework with in-person review and enhancement of the efforts.  Flip is best suited for areas in which hands-on experience is important, and there is nowhere that hands-on is more important than in company development.

Visit the website to learn more, and feel free to contact us with any questions.

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ITE|GVMS ProTraining Inaugural Seminar: IP Law

On Tuesday, November 1st, Innovative Technology Enterprises will be hosting the first ITE|GVMS ProTraining seminar, focusing on intellectual property law. This series of programming aims to inform entrepreneurs on a variety of topics pertinent to their businesses, and many will include continuing education credits for legal professionals, accountants, and others.

The first of these sessions is titled “Recent Changes in Intellectual Property Law for non-IP Attorneys, Startups, and Their Advisors.” The presentations will focus primarily on IP law as it applies to the field of biotechnology. Two attorneys based in St. Louis will be presenting. I interviewed both of them over the phone to get some background, and learn more about what they will be presenting.

First we have Saul Zackson, PhD, JD, of Zackson Law. Saul has been a practicing patent attorney since 2001, working with patents involving the life sciences and anything related. In 2010, out of a desire for independence from larger firms, Saul started his own firm – Zackson Law. The firm focuses most of its work on universities, non-profits, and startups.

Though the specifics of the presentation had yet to be finalized at the time of the interview, Saul gave me a preview of what he would be discussing. One topic deals with patentable  subject matter. Examples of such subject matter would be patents on medical diagnostics, and patents on methods of treatment. “There have been a couple of decisions from the Supreme Court in recent years that have turned everything upside down, or changed standards, making getting patents more difficult in a variety of situations,” Saul explained.

Next is Kirk Damman, JD, of Lewis Rice. Kirk is our speaker from a larger firm. Kirk has been a patent attorney for seventeen years. He primarily works to help clients acquire their patents, though he has experience with litigation as well. Kirk’s primary client base is small business and startups, many of them in the St. Louis area, or in the Midwest. Kirk explained how most large firms work primarily with larger companies. “We’re a little unique I think in the fact that we are focused on smaller companies and startups.”

Kirk’s presentation is going to focus on the question “what do you actually get a patent on?” What is the criteria for a patentable process or physical object? A core of this is what inventions inhabit a physical device space vs a software or operating space. Both of these areas include patentable material, but Kirk will address the ongoing legal discussion about their differences and what may separate a patentable idea/object from a non-patentable idea/object.

Kirk also helped to found the Patent Pro Bono Program in St. Louis. GVMS, as an organization that supports local startups, helps facilitate companies into the program. Kirk gave me a statement about the program.

“It’s an offering that fills a necessary gap by allowing those without the financial resources to file for or obtain patent protection to do so.  In effect, to grant access to the patent office for a group that has been traditionally underrepresented at the patent office because they simply don’t know how to access an agency that is designed to help them protect their ideas.  The real value of it, however, is that it means that inventors who lack financial resources are not forced to try and navigate patent law (which can be merciless) by themselves simply because they lack the resources to get an attorney.  Hopefully, the inventors can then go out to license, sell, or commercialize their ideas adding value to their local economies.”

This seminar will not only be beneficial for attorneys, but also for anyone in technology or life science field that wants to learn more about the possibilities for their inventive ideas to become a reality. We welcome startup founders, their advisors, mentors, and anyone interested in the subject matter.

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St. Louis Startup Connection

Startup Connection, the St. Louis region’s largest event focused on innovation and entrepreneurship, will be held on Wednesday, November 16th.  The event will return to Washington University’s Knight Center from 4:30pm – 9:00pm.  The expected audience of 1,300+ includes top early-stage startups and a dynamic mix of the innovation and business community.

The Venture Showcase highlights the breadth of innovation in the St. Louis region across various industry sectors. The 70+ early-stage startups represent industries ranging from biotechnology and advanced manufacturing to consumer products and tech.  Meet the entrepreneurs at their displays, and see their pitches live on the Emerson Auditorium stage.   The event’s Resource Fair features over 40 organizations that provide resources, services and connections for startup companies.

“Startup Connection is a great event to attend to see what’s new in St. Louis’ startup community,” said Startup Connection Managing Director Phyllis Ellison, director of entrepreneur services and institutional & corporate partnerships at the Cortex Innovation Community.  “We have an exciting group of companies this year that really emphasizes the variety of technology and innovation happening in the region.”

Join us for the most energetic evening in the innovation community!  Visit for tickets, event info and a list of companies in the Innovation Showcase.   Use the promo code “Take10” for a $10 discount until November 1.

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Breakout Year for EKG


EKG LogoAt Innovative Technology Enterprises at UMSL (University of Missouri – St. Louis), we have created an environment that fosters the growth of a variety of companies, large and small. These companies are more than just their products or services. This series of articles seeks to illuminate some of the people that make our tenant companies great, and answer the question: what is going on inside ITE?


Going into an interview with Dr. Allen Kesselring, the original intent was to do a write up of recent developments at EKG Life Science Solutions. As it turns out, EKG has had quite the success these past several months.

“Over the last three years, we’ve been slowly growing in revenue, equipment, and employees. This last year has really been kind of a break-out year for us.”

After wrapping up 2015 with a successful Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) registration; the first half of 2016 has provided new employees; conference invitations to present as industry experts; and a recently completed flawless FDA inspection. 2016 has been the biggest year yet for EKG.

First of all: the DEA approval and registration. In December 2015, EKG underwent several days of interview and inspection, conducted by the DEA, in an effort to gain approval to conduct analytical testing involving controlled substances. This is in effect a boon to both Allen, and the group’s capability as a whole. The ability to work with controlled substances expands the group’s already impressive pharmaceutical service offerings and opens up myriad possible business directions and opportunities for testing and research.

Allen was recently invited to speak at the Smithers Rapra Extractables and Leechables 2016 conference. Speaking as an invited industry expert from EKG and their sub-group Vape Testing Labs, Allen discussed the variety of leechables associated with e-cigarettes. In non-technical terms, this affirms and validates the status of EKG as a scientific force in their field in the St. Louis region.

And yet again, just a few weeks ago, another department of the federal government arrived at ITE to check in on EKG. This time, it was the Food and Drug administration. The FDA routinely does comprehensive general inspections. They open cabinets; look at data and logbooks; check equipment; and generally scour the workspace looking for points of potential non-compliance. Typically , an organization getting inspected would expect one or two form “483s”, as small mistakes in documentation and other minor violations are quite common.  It is notable that over the course of a three day FDA audit, EKG didn’t receive a single observation or notice of violation.

This all relates to EKG’s ability to grow and hire. When they started, Jennifer Eagan, Allen Kesselring, and Katie Grayson separated from their former workplace. Having each worked together for eight years, they decided to form their own company (named after themselves), EKG. They started with no equipment or external staff, just the expertise and drive necessary to build from scratch in the St. Louis region.

“Because we had no equipment of our own, having access to university equipment was critical, we were routinely talking to professors saying ‘Hey can you test this for us?’ and/or ‘can we utilize your equipment to do this analysis?’ That was how it was for us in 2013.”

In 2015, EKG hired two interns and one full time employee. This trend continued in 2016 with yet another full time employee, and with their recent success they plan on continuing the trend and hiring more in 2017. Put another way, EKG is on a path to triple their footprint at ITE since they began operations.

All of this occurring over just a few months signals big things to come out of EKG in the future. To learn more, check out their website.


Kevin Gleich is a graduate student in the University of Missouri – St. Louis’ Master of Fine Arts writing program. He produces content and manages communications for Innovative Technology Enterprises.

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ITE Synthetic and Medicinal Chemistry Services

We collaborate with University of Missouri campuses and with other universities and commercial entities. MCG offers industry-class equipment and expertise typically available in industrial pharmaceutical lead compound labs. The Medicinal Chemistry Group works via grants and contracts in collaboration with academic and industry partners — please contact Michael Hayes, to see how the MCG can help your company move forward.

Learn More

The Synthetic and Medicinal Chemistry Group (MCG) aims to apply its expertise in synthetic, organic, and medicinal chemistry to solve problems by translating researchers’ discoveries into affordable, accessible, and clinically useful therapies.

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GVMS Profiles: Harvey Gershensen

Rey is a GVMS Mentee

“How are you going to sell this thing? What are you going do to make people want it? And after that how are you going to produce it? How are you going to be competitive? How many other people are making the same thing?” says Harvey Gershensen, one of the original mentors of GatewayVMS. .

When I ask him about his perspective on the mentoring program, this is his take. Harvey talks further about how the idea behind the experienced mentor is not to simply state what they know; rather, they are to apply their experience to a particular venture’s problems. Often, that problem is on the business side of things: marketing, demand, etc.

Right off the bat, when I sat down with him at CET, Harvey comes across as fun, sarcastic even, but no-nonsense. He’s an 88-year-old World War II veteran with a background in science and business; in other words, he’s been around. He describes for me a bit about his mentoring requirements. “We require them to record what happens at mentoring sessions. We require them to set up an action statement, we require them to set up the next mentoring session. So we’ve developed a good system. If they don’t want to work that hard, they drop by the wayside.”

But dropping by the wayside doesn’t seem to be the norm. Harvey, just like others I’ve met with at GVMS, focused on the successes. He spent a good portion of our interview listing off those successes, something I’ve discovered is common practice among the mentors.

I ask him where he sees himself, moving forward.

“Me, personally?” he says.

“You, or GVMS.”

“I’m 88 years old, buddy. I’ve got a time limit!” And for the second, or third, or fourth time in this interview, we’re laughing. But he has a way of joking, and leading it to something real. “Let me give you a statement I’m fond of using. Change, progress are not synonymous. There’s a lot of change, very little of it is progress. St. Louis is getting to be known as a good place for startups, and it’s mostly this street right down here. Cortex.”

He explains that part of what he’s talking about is the culture around startups. We aren’t in the bygone days of the shirt and tie. Now, there are ping pong tables and fruit bars. It’s the Silicon Valley culture. And while it’s different in many ways from when Harvey ran a battery manufacturer upon returning from the war, there has always been a common thread to what makes a venture successful. “It’s universal. The things that make you successful are to create the demand and then fill it. It’s not rocket science. GVMS serves a great purpose because it’s not the end of your development but it gets you off the ground.”

When we started the interview, and I introduced myself as a graduate student, his response was “That’s not terminal, you’ll get through it,” and laughs and says it’s the same way he viewed his degree at Washington University. To me, this is analogous to the experience of a new venture. Graduate school is the start of a new phase in an individual’s development, as is the formation of a startup. And to this end, Harvey’s role at GVMS is to provide some of the tools necessary for success.

To learn more, visit GVMS at


Kevin Gleich is a graduate student in the University of Missouri – St. Louis’ Master of Fine Arts writing program. He produces content and manages communications for Innovative Technology Enterprises.

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Traxxsson’s CancSure™ Test

CancSureAt Innovative Technology Enterprises at UMSL (University of Missouri – St. Louis), we have created an environment that fosters the growth of a variety of companies, large and small. These companies, though, are more than just their products or services. This series of articles seeks to illuminate some of the people that make our tenant companies great, and answer the question: what is going on inside ITE?

Dr. Bob Puskas opened our interview right away with quite the declarative. “Really, our testing for cancers, screening, is not very good. We test for four or five significant cancers. And there are significant flaws in all of those screenings. And then the rest of the cancers, the other bottom half, still significant, we don’t do any testing. So the way you find out you have it is you have the symptom. You’ve got it, and it’s often late. That’s not the way we want it.”

Essentially, what we’re doing right now either isn’t working, or it isn’t enough.

Bob is one of the driving forces behind Traxxsson, a company housed at ITE developing early detection blood tests for a variety of solid tumor cancers. In our interview, he was quite clear. Detection is the problem, and Traxxsson has set out to fix it. The idea here is to create tests to be conducted within the earliest stages of surveillance (even detecting cancer as early as stage I) and ideally, in the near future, routine tests before cancer is even suspected or health is at risk. Traxxsson has developed a blood test they call CancSure: a blood test that recognizes the unique protein signatures, patterns of biomarkers, of a particular cancer. As it turns out, all varieties of cancerous tumors throw off specific proteins into the blood. Currently, Traxxsson can discriminate between nine different cancers, and has developed specific tests for three of the most common: breast, prostate, and lung.

To paraphrase Bob, if a woman receives a mammogram and a mass is discovered, Traxxsson’s BRE CancSure test can then be conducted to hopefully rule out the possibility of cancer before months of expensive testing. “Rule out” is the critical phrase here. CancSure does not guarantee that someone has cancer, but it can rule out the possibility with a high degree of confidence. Not only will this save money (for the patient and the physician both), but perhaps more importantly it saves the patient the stress of waiting months at a time for results and follow up testing. Traxxsson’s tests take only twenty-four hours.

Breast cancer is not the only target, though. Traxxsson is also developing their PRO CancSure variant to test for prostate cancer. In the case of prostate cancer, this gives us a better understanding of progression. Bob explained how, contrary to popular understanding, not every cancer diagnosis requires treatment, and this is especially true for cancer of the prostate.

“People fear cancer because of the reputation that most of the other cancers have. But the mortality for prostate cancer is somewhere between one and two percent. It’s not high and it’s a slow progressing cancer. The move now is to do surveillance.”

In fact, it is often the case that the side effects associated with treatment are worse than the cancer itself. Better, less invasive surveillance allows us to more effectively determine the need for more exploratory measures or even treatment.

Traxxsson’s long term goal is to develop a single, inexpensive test that can be done routinely to identify the most prevalent human cancers. This could be done during a physical, a routine doctors visit, or even in the ER. These are the sort of medical advances to really get excited about.

To learn more, visit Traxxsson at

Kevin Gleich is a graduate student in the University of Missouri – St. Louis’ Master of Fine Arts writing program. He produces content and manages communications for Innovative Technology Enterprises.

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GVMS Profiles: Rey Castuciano

We get great ideas all the time: products, services, new ways of doing things. The innovative spirit is a foundational element of the contemporary economy, our culture even. But every so often, an idea comes along that changes the game. A bombshell. Something that not only provides measurable economic benefits, but, in this case, also fosters happiness, dignity, and community. When I spoke over the phone with Rey Castuciano about his project Table Wisdom, I quickly discovered that we were talking about just that kind of revolutionary idea.

On the other end of the phone, Rey was in a meeting; a scheduling error placed our call at the same time. After a bit of deliberation, we decided to go forward with the interview anyway. Why is this relevant? I’ve listened to the recording several times, and this moment is fascinating. Rey realized he had another chance to present Table Wisdom to fresh ears, and the passion took over, dominating the rest of the discussion.

Rey isn’t providing one service. He’s providing two simultaneously. Table Wisdom connects non-native English speakers (whom Rey describes as ‘foreign-borns) with seniors in nursing facilities. They meet for (at first) five conversational sessions. The non-native speakers get practice with English, while the seniors are able to connect and converse in a way that they often aren’t able to. The program, he describes, is still new:

“We’re still building the actual platform. And it is difficult because each market has their own particular needs. We need, right now, to find the common ground between the two populations. Keep it simple and then we would also like to measure the feedback we get to let us address particular desires and needs.”

Where exactly did this idea come from though? In 2014, Rey and his mother spent nearly six weeks caring for his father in a nursing facility after he suffered a debilitating stroke. They would go in shifts, his mother in the morning, and Rey in the afternoon. He saw how so many residents would wake up, eat their breakfast, watch television, eat their next meal, and on and on like this for the rest of their lives. You’re incredibly lucky if someone visits once a week.

But let’s back up… Rey moved to the United States from the Philippines with his parents in the late ‘80s. His father, who practiced law in the Philippines, ended up taking fairly low wage jobs, even working night security, to pay the bills. All of this due to a lack of solid English communication skills. Despite this, Rey grew up to earn his Bachelor’s Degree in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics from UCLA and his MBA, Finance & Marketing, from University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business. After spending over fifteen years in industry, from science to finance to marketing, he had his experience in 2014.

If his father would have had access to a program like Table Wisdom when they came to the United States, he would have had far greater access to the English language, and potentially could have even practiced law again. Nursing facilities too might not have as negative a reputation as they get had Table Wisdom been in place so long ago.

“We’ve got to just keep focus on making sure the foundation is strong. We just need to be focused on delighting our customers. Really listening to them,” he says.

“Sure, well it sounds like you’re in the business of happiness in a way. Right?” I ask.

“Some of our students have been going out with their mentors, you know. To restaurants, with their families. Heck man, I don’t even get invited to them.”

We both laugh hard at this. Helping young adults learn English and providing companionship for seniors is one thing, but what Rey and his team have created is really an entirely new community.

“Well that’s more than you could have imagined I would think. That’s incredible,” I say.

“It’s very cool, it’s very cool.”

And it is. These are the sort of ideas that make you slap your forehead and say “of course! Why weren’t we always doing this?” Now, with five pilot locations, Table Wisdom really is starting to take off, and has produced some real successes. It took someone whose experiences combined in such a particular way for the idea to come together, and it is clear that we are going to see the program grow into something truly remarkable.

To learn more, visit

For mentoring opportunities, visit

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