By BioGenerator, Arch Grants, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, and The Yield Lab | March 22, 2022
St. Louis – The St. Louis agtech ecosystem has coalesced its resources to attract startups to the St. Louis region by funding an AgriFoodTech track in the highly successful annual Arch Grants Startup Competition. BioGenerator, the startup arm of BioSTL; the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center; and The Yield Lab have partnered with Arch Grants to extend more funding opportunities specifically to AgriFoodTech companies, which benefit from the unmatched strength of the St. Louis region. This partnership grants startups access to our area’s unique AgriFoodTech advantages at a time when innovation in the sector is critical despite the daunting challenges of a changing climate and supply chain inefficiencies.
Each year, Arch Grants funds 20-25 early-stage companies through its annual Startup Competition. This year, it will include up to five startups working within the AgriFoodTech space. Arch Grants awards validated-idea to pre-Series A-stage startups with $75,000 each in non-dilutive grants in exchange for a one-year commitment to headquarter in St. Louis. In addition, the companies receive wraparound support services inclusive of introductions to investors, connections to potential customers, and concierge tailored support to address each company’s needs. Beginning in 2022, startups that move to St. Louis for the program are eligible for $25,000 in relocation grants, increasing their total award to $100,000. Arch Grants is accepting applications until April 15 for its 2022 Startup Competition. After completing the one-year program, companies raising growth capital are eligible for an additional $100,000 non-dilutive award through the Growth Grants program to empower continued growth in St. Louis.
“Arch Grants has spurred significant economic impact over the past 10 years through our industry-agnostic award model, funding over 200 startups positioned to leverage St. Louis’ unique assets to grow and scale in our region,” said Gabe Angieri, Interim Executive Director of Arch Grants. “We are thrilled to partner with BioGenerator, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, and The Yield Lab in this concerted effort to accelerate startup success in the AgriFoodTech space. We plan to award at least three to five deserving companies in 2022 through this initiative, in addition to our regular cohort.”
More than 1,000 PhD plant scientists live and work in St. Louis. With a plethora of research and development, capital, and startup supports, AgriFoodTech companies starting up and growing in the St. Louis region are poised for success, particularly within the 39 North Innovation District. The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center offers affordable access to critical core facilities, including greenhouses and growth chambers in addition to other research collaboration opportunities. BRDG Park on the Danforth Center’s campus offers wet lab and office space, and an on-site equipment loan and biotechnician training program. St. Louis County, in conjunction with BioGenerator, offers startups affordable scientific lab space, shared equipment, and expertise at the BioGenerator Labs @ Helix Center Incubator. Companies also gain access to gene editing and transformation services through BioGenerator and its portfolio of startups.
“Agtech is one of the most active sectors for early-stage and venture investment, and St. Louis is one of the key centers of agtech innovation in the country,” said Tom Laurita, director of Entrepreneurship at the Danforth Center and CEO, Danforth Technology Company. “This new Arch Grants initiative will certainly accelerate existing startup momentum. At the Danforth Center we observe a critical mass of innovation and capital in the region driving an explosion of opportunities to transform agriculture using the latest technologies.”
The Yield Lab gives Arch Grants unique global visibility into the attractiveness of the St. Louis region. The Yield Lab’s presence on each continent and global impact through The Yield Lab Institute’s innovation challenges are widely recognized. Agtech startups selected and fostered by The Yield Lab’s global system have gone on to global growth, and startups initially accelerated globally have grown into the US market from a base in St. Louis.
“The power of industry experienced professionals across the St. Louis region is what made The Yield Lab system successful for the portfolio companies selected,” said Brian Clevinger, General Partner in The Yield Lab.
“Plus, BioGenerator Ventures provides critical early-stage diligence and investment, while its complementary BioGenerator Labs affords startups physical space with access to shared-asset, ag-company equipment needs, ag-experienced executives to lead or guide agtech startup management teams, along with other service assets,” said Martha Schlicher, CEO of two BioGenerator-funded startups. “BioGenerator is instrumental to building and growing agtech companies, helping startups deliver some of their earliest ‘wins.’ To-date, BioGenerator Ventures has invested $6 million in St. Louis AgriFoodTech companies, which have gone on to raise a collective $793 million in follow-on capital.”
ABOUT ARCH GRANTS
As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Arch Grants' mission is to transform the economy in St. Louis by attracting and retaining extraordinary entrepreneurs. Since 2012, Arch Grants has awarded more than $11 million in cash grants to attract or retain 207 early-stage businesses in St. Louis, invigorating the city's startup scene with new talent and ideas and helping to shape the future economy of the region. Of the total cash grants, $10.6 million has been awarded through Arch Grants’ annual Startup Competition and $600,000 has been awarded in in non-dilutive grants through Growth Grants, a program launched in 2021 to provide additional $100,000 non-dilutive awards that must be matched with equity investments. Arch Grants' portfolio companies have gone on to create over 2,300 jobs in the St. Louis region, generate more than $479 million in revenue and attract more than $411 million in follow-on capital. To learn more, visit archgrants.org and follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
BioGenerator, the startup arm of BioSTL, creates and grows innovative companies through its two complementary approaches — investing through BioGenerator Ventures and comprehensive startup support through BioGenerator Labs. Visit BioGenerator.org for additional information and follow us on twitter @BioGeneratorSTL.
ABOUT THE DONALD DANFORTH PLANT SCIENCE CENTER
Founded in 1998, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center is the world’s largest independent nonprofit plant research institute. Thirty-one scientific teams manage over 200 research projects and have garnered more than $250 million in competitive research funding. The Danforth Center provides companies with access to core technologies including 54,000 ft2 of plant growth space, data science, advanced bioimaging, phenotyping, transformation, proteomics and mass spectrometry. The Danforth Center has spun out nine companies and contributes $352 million in annual economic impact to the region. The Danforth Technology Company (DTC) is a wholly owned C Corporation that facilitates the creation of startup companies from technologies developed by Danforth Center scientists. Follow us on Twitter at @DanforthCenter.
ABOUT YIELD LAB
Launched in 2014, The Yield Lab North America, based in St. Louis, Missouri, invests in AgriFood Tech companies with technologies focused on crops, animal health, digital agriculture, logistics, and food ingredients. Initial investments range from $100,000 – $1.5M. The General Partners have a unique mix of industry and venture capital experience, allowing The Yield Lab team to quickly help portfolio companies find customers, collaborators, and investors. The Yield Lab North America is the founding cornerstone of a global network of Funds providing connectivity with global markets.