Zachary Laidlaw

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Tech Startup Hubs in St. louis: The Cortex District

image of Cortex Innovation District — tech startup hubs in St. LouisWhen you hear the word “technology,” what comes to mind? You probably think about the devices that rule your life: your smartphone or computer. Maybe you think about a new app or streaming service. Technology embodies many different product and service categories spanning a wide range of industries.

What about the words “technology startup?” — Do they make you think of St. Louis?

Where do successful tech startups live?

For most burgeoning entrepreneurs looking to build unique companies, apps, products and/or services, the coast is oftentimes a rather appealing place to begin. As it stands today, California’s Silicon Valley is home to the nation’s largest technology community while New York remains to be the mecca for some of the United States’ most prestigious businesses.

For many tech startups looking to make a difference in the world, however, destinations like California and New York are unreachable — the cost of living is too expensive, or the thought of being swallowed up by a densely populated area is too daunting to consider.

These reasons, among many others, leave entrepreneurs searching for an alternative destination — a place that offers creative work spaces, project funding and rich local culture.

Enter the city of St. Louis.

Building a Community of Innovation

Thanks to St. Louis’ inviting midwest hospitality, business resources and pool of sharp talent from local universities, St. Louis has cultivated one of the fastest growing technology startup scenes in the United States. Contributing to this growth is the largest, most renown tech startup district St. Louis has to offer…

Cortex District

The Cortex District is known as St. Louis’ “innovation community.” Located about two miles east of Forest Park and just south of the Central West End, this up-and-coming zone is the home to a series of co-inhabited offices filled with innovative thinkers and doers.

At the time this article was published, Cortex boasts three unique locations and one organization that hosts weekly startup events:

Center for Emerging Technologies (CET)

“Founded in 1998, the Center for Emerging Technologies (CET) is the largest and oldest Innovation Center in Missouri. CET is nationally recognized for providing the infrastructure and resources needed for early-stage, high-growth companies in the fields of information technology, bioscience and consumer/manufactures products to innovate and thrive. An affiliate of the Cortex Innovation Community since 2012, CET fills an important program role in the Cortex district and broader St. Louis region.” — CET St. Louis

CIC St. Louis

“CIC started in 1999 with a vision and a simple idea: Startups make the world much better. We can help them by setting up and managing their office for them so they can focus on their business. We believed we could do that better than anyone else and we set out to prove it. Since then, more than 1400 companies have chosen CIC as their home and many have gone on to prove their value to the world as startups. More than $1.8B of venture capital has been invested in companies that were headquartered at CIC. We now house over 800 companies, most of them startups, and we haven’t stopped making CIC better every day.” — CIC St. Louis


“BioGenerator is an evergreen investor that creates, grows, and funds innovative companies and talented entrepreneurs in the St. Louis region. BioGenerator identifies and de-risks commercially promising innovations and services; advises innovators and entrepreneurs; recruits and supports entrepreneurial talent; makes staged investments grounded in rigorous due diligence; and offers access to enabling lab space and capital equipment. We position companies to navigate the unique challenges of early-stage bioscience company development.” — BioGenerator


“A playground for creativity, TechShop is an open-access, DIY workshop and fabrication studio. We are a community-based space where entrepreneurs, artists, makers, teachers and students come together to learn and work together.” — TechShop

Venture Café St. Louis

“We believe innovation is a process to improve the human condition.

The focus should not just be about making apps. The real challenges facing the human condition require innovative solutions. There is room for innovation in education, the arts, government services, healthcare, advanced manufacturing, social enterprise, and many other sectors. Join us each Thursday at 4240 Duncan or attend Venture Cafe Nights: Forward Through Resilience on the 2nd Tuesday of each month or Venture Cafe Nights: 39 North on the 3rd Tuesday of each month.” — Venture Café St. Louis

Want to learn more about tech startups in St. Louis?

In a mission to promote the absolute BEST of St. Louis, Elevate STL highlights the most innovative high tech startups, biomedical growth and nationally leading entrepreneurship our city has to offer.

For more stories relating to tech startups in St. Louis, bookmark our online Tech Startups category, and check it often. There will be more to come soon. Stay tuned!

The Top Ten Recognized Businesses in St. Louis

image of a red pin sticking in a map of St. Louis — businesses in St. LouisSt. Louis is a city of many appeals: we covet our Cardinals every spring, and we bleed Blue during the winter (but we never talk about the NFL…ever). Our city features some of the most celebrated attractions in the nation, like the Gateway Arch and our one-of-a-kind Busch Stadium, complete with Ballpark Village. Consequently, St. Louis is also a great place for thriving businesses.

Today, we’re highlighting some of the most nationally and globally recognized businesses in St. Louis and how their work influences the way people in our city work and live.

The Most Renown Businesses in St. Louis

St. Louis’ ability to produce intelligent, success-driven employees who want to positively influence their city and the world has created an ideal home for the following high-profile corporations:


“Anheuser-Busch’s roots date back to the mid-1800s when a large number of German immigrants arrived to St. Louis, mainly due to political upheavals in Germany and Bohemia in 1848. With the large migration of Germans to St. Louis the principal industry in the area soon became brewing beer. These immigrant brewers introduced a new style of beer to the United States: Lager. Lighter, crisper and more difficult to brew, Lager beer requires more time and care than other styles of beer. In a short time, Budweiser would go from a local favorite to the King of Beers around the world.” — Anheuser-Busch

Panera Bread (a.k.a. St. Louis Bread Company)

“We care about the simple things: freshly-baked breads, attention to detail, a warm place to gather and our local neighborhoods. That’s why at Panera Bread bakery-cafes, bakers spend their nights baking breads in stone deck and convection ovens before we open our doors each morning. This overnight effort ensures that everything from your morning bagel to your late afternoon sandwich was baked fresh, that same day. We apply this same dedication to all of our cafe items, from fresh, crisp salads with unique flavor combinations, to our savory selection of soups. At the end of each day, we donate unsold bakery products to the community and then start all over again.” — Panera Bread


“For 50 years, we’ve been using our technology and expertise to make payments safer, simpler and smarter. We don’t issue cards, but we do make payments happen around the clock, around the world. We believe it pays to give back; through our philanthropy and payment innovations, we’re making a positive impact in communities around the world.” — Mastercard


“The Energizer® brand is synonymous with world’s first innovation and emerging technologies. Beyond power and portable lighting, our real product is bringing positivenergy™ so that you can do, enjoy, and accomplish more than you ever expected.” — Energizer

The Boeing Company

“Boeing is the world’s largest aerospace company and leading manufacturer of commercial jetliners and defense, space and security systems. A top U.S. exporter, the company supports airlines and U.S. and allied government customers in 150 countries. Boeing products and tailored services include commercial and military aircraft, satellites, weapons, electronic and defense systems, launch systems, advanced information and communication systems, and performance-based logistics and training.” — The Boeing Company

Nestlé Purina

“[When we make Purina pet foods,] we start with wholesome ingredients that meet or exceed government standards, and manage the processing every step of the way to ensure the product quality. [But] quality pet foods are just the beginning. From our leading-edge research, to innovative programs like ‘Purina Pets For People’ in the US and Pet Care School in Italy, we’re always looking for new ways to help pets and the people who love them.” — Nestlé Purina

Sunnen Products Company

“Sunnen Products Company has been a global leader in the manufacturing and distribution of bore sizing and finishing equipment, engine rebuilding equipment, and tooling and abrasives since 1924. [We are] committed to providing a broad offering of catalog products and custom engineered solutions in a way that exceeds the expectations of our customers.” — Sunnen Products Company

Edward Jones

“Edward Jones serves nearly 7 million investors from more offices than any other investment firm in America. We attribute a great deal of our success to our principles and personal, long-term approach to investing.” — Edward Jones


“Monsanto is a sustainable agriculture company [that is] focused on empowering farmers—large and small—to produce more from their land while conserving more of our world’s natural resources such as water and energy. We do this with our leading seed brands in crops like corn, cotton, oilseeds and fruits and vegetables. We also produce leading in-the-seed trait technologies for farmers, which are aimed at protecting their yield, supporting their on-farm efficiency and reducing their on-farm costs.” — Monsanto

Spire (formerly The Laclede Group)

“Spire’s natural gas utilities and other related businesses work together to enrich the lives of the 1.56 million customers we serve across Missouri and Alabama. Our gas marketing business maintains the balance between our natural gas supplies and our customers’ needs, ensuring the highest reliability at the lowest costs. And we’ve tapped into the growing market of cleaner-burning natural gas vehicles that can conveniently support business fleets of all kinds.” — Spire

Want to learn more about businesses in St. Louis?

St. Louis is a large city full of burgeoning businesses and innovation; we could not list all of these organizations in this single article. If your favorite St. Louis business didn’t make our short list, tell us in the comments section below! What businesses deserve to be in the Elevate STL spotlight? Why did you select the business you chose? What does the business do to positively influence our city? Would you be interested in Elevate STL working with this business to produce future content?

As a website produced by St. Louis citizens, for St. Louis citizens, your input is vital to our success. Thank you for taking the time to read this article and get involved in our unique project.

For more stories relating to business in St. Louis, bookmark our online Business category, and check it often. There will be more to come soon. Stay tuned!