This Service Leadership Spotlight features Kaelyn Cobo's reflection on the Service Leadership Program's Shadow Day at Cortex.
This year, Shadow Day featured Cortex Innovation Community, a 200-acre technology and innovation district located near St. Louis' Forest Park. Cortex was founded in 2002 by Saint Louis University and other organizations in St. Louis. Its goal was to build upon a developing area of St. Louis that could best utilize local entrepreneurial and scholastic resources. Since then, Cortex has grown immensely over the years to include $550 million of total investment and over 1.7 million square feet of new real estate that has generated 4,200 technology-related jobs. As of 2018, there are over 250 companies situated in the area.
On April 26, we started our Shadow Day activities with a tour of the district which gave us an overall summary of Cortex’s history and future plans. Phyllis Ellison, who is currently the Director of Entrepreneur Services and Institutional/Corporate Partnerships guided our tour. Phyllis brought us into the Cortex 1 building, where we learned about BioGenerator, an esteemed nonprofit biotechnology incubation program that offers the proper resources and technological support for over 65 biotech startups.
Next, we chatted with Joe Ivancic, the Senior Relationship Manager at the Cambridge
Innovation Center (CIC). Through Joe, we learned more about how the CIC fits in with
Cortex, in addition to the services the building has to offer, such as Venture Cafe.
After lunch, Joe took us walking towards the Center for Emerging Technologies (CET) where we spoke with Max and Crystal, two employees of the building’s operations team. The CET is the largest and oldest Innovation Center in Missouri, and was founded in 1998. It has been an affiliate of the Cortex community since 2012 and primarily focuses on the proper programming needed to support growing ventures. We were able to get take a tour of the facility as well as visit the testing labs used by their clients everyday. Finally, Joe took us inside one of Cortex’s recent projects: the 4220 Duncan Avenue building located right next to the CIC. The 182,000 square foot building is still undergoing construction, yet we were given an exclusive look at the interior and design and learn more about the future of the district as a whole.
We were able to learn about the various services offered by Cortex, so that if in the future we were to create our own business, we would know just the place to start. Learning about Venture Cafe has now shown us a new environment where we can share ideas and conversation on the technological and economical advances that this city strives towards. Shadow Day at Cortex was a great way to end the school year, and I can’t wait to see how our program can continue to build relationships with the local entrepreneurial community.