St. Louis startup organizations snag $1.5M in federal grant funding

The U.S. Department of Commerce announced Tuesday that two St. Louis startup support organizations have been awarded a combined $1.5 million in federal grant funding. BioGenerator, the investment arm of local bioscience booster BioSTL, and Arch Grants both will receive $750,000 each in funding through the Economic Development Administration’s Regional Innovation Strategies i6 Challenge program. The funding is part of $23 million in grants awarded Tuesday aimed at expanding entrepreneurship nationwide and that will be coupled with $26 million in matching funds.

Arch Grants, which awards equity-free grants to startups, said it plans to use the grant funding to evolve and increase its support services into an extensive wraparound program for its startup competition awardees. The organization has raised $750,000 in private matching funds.

“Arch Grants was founded in 2011 with the goal of building the future economy in St. Louis from the ground-up by attracting and retaining entrepreneurs to St. Louis,” said Arch Grants Executive Director Emily Lohse-Busch. “We have benefited from extraordinary community backing to date, and this i6 Challenge Grant and the matching funds will allow us to significantly expand our support to the believers and builders who will become the next generation of transformational leaders in our region. We aim to solidify St. Louis as one of the best places in the world to start and scale companies.”

Since 2012, Arch Grants has awarded $7.2 million in grants to 134 early-stage companies.

BioGenerator said it will use its federal funding over a three-year period to accelerate agtech innovation and commercialization. The organization will use the grant to leverage a nearly $1 million cash match.

The funds will be used to expand BioGenerator’s Fundamentals and Grants to Business development programs as well for the organization’s co-working lab facilities for agtech startups. BioGenerator, in partnership with the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, is currently piloting a co-working lab at the Helix Center Biotech Incubator in Creve Coeur.

“Our team will work hand-in-hand with burgeoning St. Louis agtech company founders to evaluate innovative technologies and new business concepts to drive to milestones that accelerate the path to traditional financing,” said Eric Gulve, President of BioGenerator. “Coupled with our own early-stage investment capital, this grant will help us further develop high-growth-potential companies, de-risking them for follow-on investors, thus creating more opportunities and jobs for St. Louisans.”

BioGenerator has invested $23 million in more than 70 startups since its founding.