BRDG Park

(Courtesy Ayers Saint Gross)

St. Louis has the highest concentration of plant scientists in the world. But the places where they conduct their experiments aren't necessarily the most inviting.

To attract more biotech industries and talent to the area, St. Louis County officials want to remake the areas where researchers work, especially in Creve Coeur, home to Monsanto and many promising startup companies.

That's the idea behind a proposed plant science innovation district that would connect the Danforth Science Center, BRDG Park, the Helix Center Biotech Incubator and Monsanto. The effort also aims to solidify St. Louis' reputation as a plant-science hub. But detailed plans for the area likely won't come until the end of the year.

Courtesy Donald Danforth Plant Science Center

KWS, a German agricultural company, is opening a research center at BRDG Park in the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center’s campus.

The company, which specializes in plant breeding, has 4,800 employees in 70 countries. The new facility will be its first molecular plant research space in North America, hiring 25 positions in the first year and another 75 in following years.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: When Jane Hill came to the Danforth Plant Science Center for the first time last month, she was impressed by what she saw. That's good, considering the distance she traveled.

Hill is the chief executive officer for CropLogic, a New Zealand-based company that provides online crop management services for potato farmers. She was in St. Louis for the Ag Innovation Showcase, which has become a major event for the plant sciences industry.

Donald Danforth Plant Science Center
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Beacon | 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Tom Laurita had options when picking out a location for his company.

Laurita is part of a cadre of people that started NewLeaf Symbiotics, a small company that seeks to harness a certain type of plant bacteria for commercial use. After considering Boston, North Carolina and several places in California as home bases, Laurita decided the St. Louis area was “the obvious choice.”

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: St. Louis has become a hub for agricultural sciences and commercialization but still lags in capital formation. That was the sentiment expressed by attendees at the Ag Innovation Showcase held at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center this week during a series of breakfast interviews by the Beacon.