Posted by Heidi Schwartz
BioSTL, the St. Louis, MO organization that focuses on regional prosperity by boosting its bioscience sector, has announced that Kaiima Bio-Agritech has selected the city as the location of its U.S. headquarters. Kaiima’s decision represents the first success of BioSTL’s newly launched initiative targeting Israeli companies for recruitment.
Kaiima is a plant genetics and breeding-technology company that has developed a non-GMO platform that improves crop productivity. Founded in 2007, the company has raised $98 million (USD) in multiple venture capital financings.
Israel, frequently referred to as the “Startup Nation,” is one of the largest sources of commercially promising innovation in the world, particularly in agritech, medical technologies and cyber-security—areas that match with St. Louis’ target industries. Many Israeli ventures have a fundamental business need to establish a U.S. presence to access markets, capital, networks and corporate partnerships.
“Kaiima established a North American office in order to bring our food, feed and energy solutions closer to U.S. farmers. We selected St. Louis as our base of operations because of the region’s tremendous strengths in plant science research and commercial activity,” said Kaiima CEO, Dr. Doron Gal. “St. Louis’ vibrant and collaborative entrepreneurial community has also impressed us.”
BioSTL’s newly launched St. Louis-Israel Innovation Connection (SLIIC) initiative establishes a direct pipeline for business interaction between St. Louis and the country of Israel, with the aim of recruiting Israeli companies that are seeking to establish a U.S. presence and that are aligned with St. Louis’ business, scientific and technological strengths. The SLIIC team identifies and screens prospective target companies and strategically matches these Israeli companies with St. Louis resources, including potential corporate and institutional partners, investors and scientific and business expertise that can lead to establishing a company presence in St. Louis.
“St. Louis has impressive assets in certain areas, including plant sciences, that can give us a competitive advantage in attracting some very exciting high-growth companies to our region,” said Donn Rubin, president and CEO of BioSTL. “SLIIC’s collaborative approach leverages an array of assets in St. Louis’ innovation ecosystem that offer value to prospective relocation candidates such as Kaiima.
“Missouri is building a global reputation as being a bioscience powerhouse,” says Mike Downing, director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development. “Whether startup or international bioscience corporation, Missouri’s talented workforce, research institutions, and supportive business community provides an environment that fosters growth and allows them to commercialize their innovations and create next generation jobs.”s.
Numerous St. Louis organizations have collaborated in facilitating Kaiima’s presence in St. Louis. The St. Louis Regional Chamber provided relocation assistance and the Missouri Partnership, along with the Missouri Department of Economic Development, helped identify a strategic economic incentive package that the company can receive if it meets strict job creation and investment criteria. Kaiima’s St. Louis team will locate in the Cambridge Innovation Center – St. Louis (CIC-St. Louis) and plans to tap into the region’s ecosystem.