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!

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