June 30, 2016
By Kelly Hamilton
Last summer, a group of 23 business and civic leaders traveled to Ireland on a trade delegation. It was upon the invitation of US Ambassador to Ireland, Kevin O’Malley, a St. Louisan who practiced law at Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale prior to his appointment. Over the course of seven days, the delegates met with business leaders in Dublin, Germany and London.
While the primary goal of that trip was to visit the European headquarters of businesses that have a significant presence in St. Louis, a pivotal moment came when the group met with a specific sector of Dublin’s business community: startups.
During an innovation roundtable hosted by MasterCard Technologies, the delegates were “blown away by Dublin’s startup community,” says Tim Nowak, executive director of the World Trade Center St. Louis. By the end of the delegation, “we had started putting together ideas on coming back. We thought, why don’t we build a delegation around that, and find ways to strengthen commercial ties?”
A follow-up trip was planned for this summer, this time with leaders and influencers in the tech and innovation community. Led by St. Louis County Executive, Steve Stenger and organized by his office as well as leaders at the World Trade Center St. Louis, the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, the St. Louis Regional Chamber and the offices of St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, the delegation is a mix of top leadership from some of St. Louis’ largest enterprises, startup founders, leaders of entrepreneur support organizations (ESOs) and civic leaders.
When putting together the list of invited delegates, Nowak says, “We really tried to do so with an eye toward the leaders who could speak to the innovation story going on here in St. Louis. We wanted a group of people who are immersed in this story.”
Three Cities, One Goal
The purpose of this year’s delegation is to “strengthen commercial ties through innovation in three cities with which we share a unique relationship—Lyon, Dublin and Galway,” says Nowak.
St. Louis has long-standing relationships with Galway and Lyon, both sister cities to St. Louis through the Sister Cities International program. Those relationships have been in place since the 1970s, and there’s now an effort to find ways to enhance them.
An innovation seminar and shared discussion will take place in each of the three cities. Following tours of local startup accelerators and innovation centers, panel discussions moderated by St. Louis delegates will bring together St. Louisans and local community members.
Each city’s discussions will follow a theme: bioscience in Lyon, FinTech and IT in Dublin and AgTech and Tech in Galway.
The delegation begins in Lyon, France on July 10, travels to Dublin July 12 and wraps in Galway on July 15.
The delegates are:
Brian Wahby, Principal, Berrick Partnership
Cheryl Watkins-Moore, CEO & Founder, Accelerated Rehabilitation Technologies
Chris Motley, Founder & CEO, Better Weekdays
Chris Dornfeld, Founder & CEO, Bonfyre
Christine Karslake VP, Innovation and Entrepreneurship St. Louis Economic Development Partnership
David Hakanson Vice President, CIO & Chief Innovation Officer, Saint Louis University
Dennis Lower, President & CEO, Cortex
Dennis Riggs, Director, HEC-TV
Derek Naten, Sr. Director, Government Affairs & Advocacy Relations, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals
Donn Rubin, President & CEO, BioSTL
Ginger Imster, Executive Director, Arch Grants
Henry Biggs, President, Eusabian Technologies
Jason Hall, General Counsel, St. Louis Regional Chamber
Joe Reagan, President & CEO, St. Louis Regional Chamber
Kelly Hamilton, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, EQ
Lori Becklenberg, Director, New Business Development, St. Louis Regional Chamber
Patrick Dolan, Chairman, County Council, St. Louis County
Peter Wyse Jackson, President, Missouri Botanical Garden
Pravina Pindoria, Chief Operating Officer, Tallyfy, Inc.
Robert Reeg, President, MasterCard
Ron Jones, Principal, Burns & McDonnell
Samira Boudiab, Chief of Staff, MasterCard
Sean Furman, Sr. Program Director-VITEK, BioMerieux
Sheila Sweeney, CEO, St. Louis Economic Development Partnership
Stella Sheehan, Deputy Director, World Trade Center St. Louis
St. Louis County Executive, Steve Stenger
Susan Powers, Communications Mgr., National Corn Growers Association
Thad Simons, Managing Director, The Yield Lab
Tim Hayden, Managing Director, Stadia Ventures Saint Louis University
Tim Nowak, Executive Director, World Trade Center St. Louis
Travis Sheridan, Executive Director, Venture Café of St. Louis
William Powderly, Director, Institute for Public Health, Washington University in St. Louis
William Donius, Author & Innovation Facilitator