Cortex Innovation Community
|Founder||Washington University, BJC HealthCare, University of Missouri – St. Louis, St. Louis University, and the Missouri Botanical Garden|
|Type||Tax-exempt 501(c)3 Non-profit|
|Focus||Land use, land development, redevelopment, placemaking, marketing, startups, financing and fundraising.|
|St. Louis, Missouri, United States|
|Henry Webber, Chairman; Dennis Lower, President and CEO, William Henry Danforth, John Dubinsky|
|Cortex West Redevelopment Corporation|
Cortex Innovation Community, Cortex Innovation District, or Cortex is an innovation district in Saint Louis. Cortex is a 200-acre hub of technology and biological science research, development, and commercialization. It anchors St. Louis startup technology companies in the city.
Cortex states that once their master plan is completed, there will be $2.3 billion of construction and more than 4.5 million square feet of mixed-use development, including 13,000 jobs in technology.
In 1998, William Henry Danforth, whom 3 years prior had retired as chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis, recognized that the region was not building upon its core strengths in medicine and plant sciences. He formed the Coalition for Plant and Life Sciences, now known as BioSTL.
This eventually led to the creation of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.
Coming off that successful project, William Henry Danforth and John Dubinsky, CEO of financial consulting firm Westmoreland Associates and the eventual chairman of the Cortex board, went to Cambridge to study Kendall Square, the most notable innovation district to see how the concept could be used in St. Louis.
The idea for Cortex came from the idea to create a district where companies could have a presence with access to talent, new technology, labs and intellectual property in order to innovate. The reason the Midtown neighborhood was selected for the location of Cortex is because the founding institutions are nearby and the Millenial Generation showed desire to live and work in the nearby urban areas.
Cortex as an organization was founded in 2002 by Washington University (WashU), BJC HealthCare (BJC), University of Missouri – St. Louis (UMSL), St. Louis University (SLU), and the Missouri Botanical Garden.
To start the initial nonprofit to purchase land, members contributed $29 million USD as collateral for loans and purchasing of land. Washington University provided $15 million, BJC and SLU gave $5 million each, and UMSL gave $4 million USD.
The Cortex West Redevelopment Corporation was classified by the city under Missouri statute Chapter 353, as a master developer of the district. St. Louis Mayar Francis Slay gave Cortex the ability to redevelop the area broadly in the "public interest" with the tools of issuing tax abatements and using eminent domain if necessary, as has been documented as least two times.
The first hire by Cortex was CEO, Dennis Lower. Lower executed a plan called Cortex 2.0 and converted Cortex from a bioscience district to an open mixed-used district. Also part of Cortex 2.0 was a shift to startup technology companies.
The Cortex Innovation Community is located in the Midtown neighborhood. It is over 200 acres of land and is situated nearby St. Louis’ Central West End and Forest Park neighborhoods. It is next to internationally known Washington University, its medical campus, St. Louis University, and Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Cortex is near cultural institutions including the Grand Center Arts District and the Missouri Botanical Garden. Cortex is next to Forest Park, which is home to the St. Louis Zoo, the St. Louis Art Museum, the St. Louis Science Center, the Missouri History Museum.
One of the primary companies building Cortex is Wexford. They have developed 3 properties and a total of 536,903 square feet.
- 1.7 million square feet completed or in-development.
- Credited for $500 million of investment in the last 14 years and making 3,800 technology jobs.
- Installation of MetroLink light-rail station called "Cortex Station"
- Over 370 companies based in Cortex.
- Addition of new building 4220 a $53 Million building includes Microsoft and Innovation Hall, a 13,800-square-foot space based upon Venture Café’s District Hall in Boston.
- Aloft hotel under construction, a $25 million USD hotel with 129 rooms.
- Phase one of a five level parking garage started in Fall 2018 for $14.7 million USD.
- Esri expanded its presence in St. Louis at Cortex to service their major client National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency who is opening their Next NGA West campus in the near future.
CET St. Louis
In 2018, BioGenerator announced they will anchor the new Cortex biotech building.
CIC St. Louis
Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) provides services for startups and companies including innovations spaces and coworking. CIC supports innovation in public relations, law, education, technology and life sciences.
Venture Cafe St. Louis
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