Innovation Taking Root

By Katie Piloski
Photography by Cortex Staff


When most people think of St. Louis, science and technology are far from their minds. However, that is changing due to the Cortex Innovation Community. Founded in 2002, Cortex has been the leading innovation hub in the Midwest ranging from topics of technology research, bioscience and commercialization. Though they are not the first science and research company in St. Louis — Science Center, Planetarium, Missouri Botanical Gardens —  they sure are making heads turn.

The Cortex Innovation Community, settled between historic Central West End and the Forest Park Southwest Residential District, - neighbors to IKEA —  currently have 200-acres of hubs and technology boroughs with 250 companies already residing in the Community. Providing state-of-the-art biomedical science and top-notch technology research facilities is possible through their sponsors: BJC, Missouri Botanical Gardens, SLU, UMSL and Washington University. Though they are a research-generated community, Cortex leases office spaces available to different ranges of businesses. Cortex is the ideal community for a start-up or high-revenue company because of its highly trained workforce and neighboring world-renowned research institutions.

The largest companies working in Cortex are currently the Center for Emerging Technologies (CET), BioGenerator and Venture Café. CET and BioGenerator work to help advance and sustain companies in their progression. CET focuses on next generational medical technology, while BioGenerator works with a researcher or entrepreneur to find promising technologies to help their company along. Venture Café is a non-profit sister organization to Cortex and meet every Thursday for innovators. Lastly, Cortex houses IDEA Labs and MEDLaunch, which are student-led organizations that help provide innovative solutions to clinical issues.

Excitingly in early 2019, a new building will be opening to the public called, the City Foundry. Originally, named the Century Electric Foundry Complex, Cortex extended their reach to the building that has been empty for nearly a decade. The building is once again being put to the test where the first Food Hall in St. Louis will reside along with retail shops and workspaces of the future. Plans are being made as well for better access to Cortex through the Metro Station and to pull in 15,000 permanent related tech jobs. The Cortex Innovation Community has grown significantly and St. Louis right along with it, becoming the roots the city needs for a growing ecosystem.