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Economy & Business

BioSTL Creates Initiative To Attract Israeli Startups

The Arch from below
St. Louis Public Radio
The Gateway Arch in downtown St. Louis.

The organization that focuses on promoting the St. Louis region's bio-science industries is reaching beyond the country's borders to accomplish its mission.

BioSTL launched the St. Louis-Israel Innovation Connection Friday with the aim of attracting Israeli bioscience starts to branch out into St. Louis.

Israel is second only to Silicon Valley when it comes to creating startups.

With many of those companies looking to expand into the U.S., St. Louis can be their destination, said BioSTL CEO and president Donn Rubin.

"Our goal is to identify specific Israeli companies that match St. Louis’ particular strengths," Rubin said, "That could be agriculture technology, medical, healthcare, financial technology and cybersecurity."

Rubin said St. Louis’ ecosystem has a history of nurturing early-stage companies, and this will help develop the pipeline.

"This initiative is targeting more mature companies that have already been validated by investors, by customers. It’s just an issue of having them establish the U.S. presence," he said.

On a scouting trip to Israel in May, Rubin visited 19 startups. Out of that trip he said several companies are in talks with St. Louis businesses about adopting their technology, serving as a beta site or collaborating on research. One company is likely to announce in the coming weeks that it will expand into St. Louis.

"We were tremendously pleased that our scouting trip -- which was really about just testing the market -- and  our approach has turned into some really concrete opportunities," Rubin said.

The initiative has two projects leaders:  Vijay Chauhan will be the St. Louis-based project leader and UriAttir will be based in Israel. Attir currently is in St. Louis getting to know the bioscience network and said he’s impressed with what he’s seen. Now he said St. Louis needs to become better known in Israel.

"I think that entrepreneurs and investors in Israel know not enough about the St. Louis region to actually be able to compare fairly with other areas," he said. "So we have to increase the awareness, because there is a lot to show."

Follow Maria on Twitter: @radioaltman

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