Brookings: Missouri’s Cortex Is Key Innovation Community in Fight Against COVID-19

The Cortex Innovation Community, in St. Louis, Missouri, was recently named a key innovation district that is leading the fight against COVID-19. The Brookings Institute singled out seven globally, and two in the U.S. The Cortex Innovation Community is a world-class innovation district supported by several life science research institutions, including Washington University, Saint Louis University, and the Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

According to the article, from Brookings, advancements within this district include:

  • The testing of several vaccine candidates.
  • Research to isolate neutralizing antibodies to the virus, allowing those antibodies to be scaled up for production.
  • Research to develop diagnostic assays using animal models of the disease to obtain data on the basic biology of the virus.
  • Efforts on the part of the spatial health arm of the Geospatial Institute to better predict and prepare areas and populations with the highest need.

The Cortex Innovation Community was created in 2002 through an initial investment of $29 million from Washington University, BJC HealthCare, the University of Missouri – St. Louis, Saint Louis University and the Missouri Botanical Garden. It has since grown into the region’s largest innovation hub, generating more than 4,000 jobs and upward of $500 million in investment.

Companies like Square, founded by St. Louis natives Jack Dorsey and Jim McKelvey, and Boeing have offices there, so does Microsoft, and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA) singled out the Cortex Innovation Community as a key reason they chose St. Louis as the site for their new NGA West headquarters. Today, hundreds of companies, many based in the Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC), call the Cortex Innovation Community home.

According to Hank Webber, Executive Vice Chancellor for Administration at Washington University in St. Louis and Chair of the Board of Directors at Cortex, the innovation community is serving as the center for the “revival of a great midwestern city.” Webber said that Cortex has forged “an attractive culture of innovation and ideas that represent the future of technology innovation districts.”

Cortex represents a bold vision for the future in advancing the St. Louis regional economy as a center for technology innovation, and has emerged as a leading hub for entrepreneurial, existing industry, and institutional R&D and innovation activity. It is this type of vision that the St. Louis region, and the State of Missouri, need to push forward in the fight against COVID-19 and beyond.

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