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St. Louis A ‘Hub’ In U.S. Department of Defense’s Focus on Innovation

The National Security Innovation Network (NSIN), a program office of the U.S. Department of Defense focused on fostering collaboration and venture creation among the defense, academic and entrepreneurial sectors, has made St. Louis, Missouri, a hub in its focus on innovation.

In St. Louis, NSIN has hosted and supported programming focused on startup creation, accelerating new technologies and talent development. Its partners locally include the Cortex Innovation Community, the downtown entrepreneurship center T-Rex, the Global Center for Cybersecurity @Cortex, and Washington University.

NSIN Regional Director Jake Laktas said NSIN believes the St. Louis region is a key hub for defense-related innovation given that it’s home to Scott Air Force Base and the western headquarters of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), as well as its growing entrepreneurship efforts in geospatial technology and biosciences.

“The idea is how can NSIN capture the geospatial momentum, along with the biomedical skills we already have developed here in the region, and leverage that for a nationwide network of defense and national security,” Laktas said.

Geospatial analysis and cybersecurity are thriving sectors in Missouri, with solid foundations due to the presence of the NGA and their thousands of employees.

NGA broke ground on its new western regional headquarters in north St. Louis, Missouri, in 2016. Scheduled to open in 2025, NGA West represents a $1.7 billion investment and exemplifies the explosive growth of the geospatial ecosystem in St. Louis, of which NGA is just one active member.

NGA also recently opened its first unclassified innovation center, Moonshot Labs, inside the T-REX incubator in downtown St. Louis. Moonshot Labs spans about 12,000 square feet and is designed to provide a software factory and digital maker space to drive geospatial technology innovation among the public and private sectors.

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