By Maggie Crane, BioSTL for the St. Louis Business Journal | March 23, 2022
Venture capitalists from around the world are taking note of St. Louis’ bioscience startups and contributing to an impressive $2.5 billion raised by BioGenerator’s home-grown portfolio of companies.
In the past year, 94 percent of venture capital flowing to BioGenerator-backed companies came from outside of St. Louis, giving the startup arm of innovation umbrella organization BioSTL a hefty 75:1 leverage for every dollar it has invested.
The nonprofit BioGenerator – the only seed or venture capital investor that invests exclusively in St. Louis companies – is usually the very first money into a young startup. In addition to providing early-stage investment capital, BioGenerator coaches entrepreneurs and de-risks their companies prior to investment, making the startups more attractive to other investors. De-risking might include footing the bill to protect patents, paying for laboratory experiments, or purchasing specialized equipment for a startup.
BioGenerator has more than 50 active investments within its portfolio, which includes innovative companies that are developing treatments for cancer and other diseases; new tools to quickly and accurately detect diseases; vaccines; and agriculture innovation driving sustainability, as well as healthier foods, like plant-based proteins.
Dozens of these companies – including Wugen, Canopy, Plastomics, and VaxNewMo – operate from the BioGenerator Labs. These two innovative wet lab spaces, the larger one inside The BioSTL Building in the Cortex Innovation District and a second plant-science focused location in the 39N agtech district, consist of complementary resources, distinct from BioGenerator Ventures, that address the needs of founders, entrepreneurs, and early-stage companies.
Other startup companies within the BioGenerator Ventures portfolio, like Benson Hill, SentiAR, CoverCress, and Geneoscopy, have grown large enough – and hired enough people – to warrant their own labs.
Successful investment exits, like Confluence Life Sciences, and IPOs like Benson Hill, are the result of a robust innovation ecosystem that BioSTL began cultivating two decades ago, convening the St. Louis region around a set of goals and priorities to put St. Louis on the map for excellence in bioscience.
For perspective, it took BioSTL nearly two decades for the BioGenerator portfolio to top $1 billion in follow-on funding, and in the last year alone, it raised $1 billion – in a single year.
Our team has an aggressive funding strategy planned for the rest of 2022 – one that is built around talent. BioGenerator has more than a dozen Executives in Residence – experienced, talented industry professionals recruited, coached, and funded to build and lead its local startups. In fact, half of the companies that received BioGenerator investments in 2021 are led by current or former Executives in Residence.
BioGenerator’s $2.5 billion milestone is a remarkable achievement and one that serves the region well, as every dollar BioGenerator earns on its investments gets pumped right back into funding the next St. Louis bioscience startup, the next St. Louis-born innovation.
BioGenerator is the startup arm of BioSTL, which has been driving the St. Louis innovation economy since its inception in 2001. See our impact at biostl.org/impact.
Since 2001, St. Louis nonprofit BioSTL has laid the foundation for the region’s innovation economy with a comprehensive set of transformational programs that advance St. Louis’ leadership in solving important world challenges in agriculture, medicine, health care, and other technology areas. Find us online at biostl.org and follow us on twitter @BioSTL.