ST. LOUIS, MO, April 30, 2024 – Since the 39 North AgTech Innovation District was established as a nonprofit in April 2023, it has made significant progress on advancing its three strategic pillars: Developing the physical footprint; Supporting the start-up and scale-up of 39 North companies; and Cultivating the development/amplification of the St. Louis agri-food tech narrative.

“39 North was formed in partnership, and partnerships are infused into our organizational DNA,” said Emily Lohse-Busch, executive director. “Our founding anchor institutions saw the potential for this organization to accelerate our regional agtech ecosystem, and with their leadership, our collaborative, action-oriented spirit has propelled us forward in this first year at a rate that none of us could have predicted.”

On May 1, 39 North will launch a new physical representation of its collaborative spirit – the 39 North Collaboration Hub at EDGE@BRDG. The 10,000-square-foot space will serve as a vibrant hub of activity and gathering point for 39 North organizations, for convening the regional agtech/agri-food tech community. The hub will include key features such as:

  • 39 North headquarters, where the community can interact with the 39 North team and learn more about the organization and future projects
  • A coworking area accessible to agtech and agri-food tech companies and organizations
  • Several event/meeting spaces that can be reserved for small to large gatherings
  • A welcoming lobby with exhibits highlighting agtech/agri-food tech companies, innovators, collaborators and investors in the 39 North community

“As a 39 North anchor institution, Benson Hill recognized the opportunity to contribute in a meaningful way by giving us the option to lease unused space alongside their headquarters,” said Lohse-Busch. “The 39 North Collaboration Hub will introduce the world to our “vibe” and serve as an open innovation space that can be utilized by students, entrepreneurs, innovators, growers and visitors who see value in what we’re building in St. Louis.”

Strategic Growth of the Team

Through a multi-year grant from the Missouri Technology Corporation (MTC) MOBEC program,  39 North is expanding its team with two critical staff roles. Rishi Masalia, PhD, recently joined the organization as Program Director, a key strategic position in charge of helping the innovation district deliver on each of the three pillars. In the next several months, 39 North will add a Community Manager to help activate the Collaboration Hub and make intentional, meaningful connections throughout the 39 North ecosystem.

Infrastructure Growth Planning

The MTC grant will also be used to launch a full-scale assessment of the 39 North physical footprint to inform planning for developing specialized facilities that will enable agtech companies to conduct their R&D and grow and scale their operations. The goal is to better understand the current conditions and the opportunities for growth and for creating strategic nodes of activity including potential new lab space, greenhouses, key amenities, and build-to-suit options to support growing agtech companies. PGAV Planners was retained to lead the project and the assessment will conclude in the summer of 2024.

Graduation Space Pre-Construction Study

While the district-wide assessment is ongoing, Lohse-Busch and the 39 North Board have recognized since day one, that there is unmet demand for shared lab and office space for companies graduating from the Helix Center Incubator. Through a partnership with the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and a grant from the St. Louis County Port Authority, 39 North is currently exploring three buildings within the innovation district and completing the pre-construction design and planning studies necessary to move toward developing one of the spaces as “graduation space.”

Building National Partnerships for Greater Impact

Last September, to expand its reach outside the St. Louis region, 39 North became a founding member of AgTech Nation, a nationwide agri-food innovation network catalyzed by AgStart. AgTech Nation is working to build a national network of entrepreneur-support organizations, a ‘Network of Networks’ focused on agri-food innovation, sharing assets and resources across geographies, climate zones and crop types.

In addition, 39 North has partnered with the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG), a national organization with a strong St. Louis presence, to bring their AgTech Investor Symposium to 39 North in Q4 of 2024. The event, which has been held in Raleigh, NC for the past two years, brings together investors, corporations, and companies to discuss the funding trends in our sector and to make connections to advance agtech nationally.

“It is incredibly exciting to see the progress that has been made in advancing 39 North and its mission in its first year as a nonprofit with dedicated staff,” said Mike DeCamp, CEO of CoverCress Inc, and 39 North Board Chair. “I appreciate the contributions of the talented members of the          39 North board and want to recognize the phenomenal passion, vision and leadership of Emily Lohse-Busch – 39 North would not sit where it does today without her.”

About the 39 North AgTech Innovation District

39 North is a vibrant innovation district cultivating the infrastructure, talent, and access to capital to facilitate agtech and agri-food tech innovation and to advance ideas from lab to market. The nonprofit was established in 2023 by seven anchor institutions: the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Bayer Crop Science, CoverCress Inc., Benson Hill, St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, City of Creve Coeur and Greater St. Louis, Inc. For more information visit, Follow us @39northSTL.

Media contact: Karla Roeber,