Since its founding in 2013, CoverCress, which is bringing a new cash crop to market, has exhibited how some of St. Louis’ largest corporations can play a key role in the success of some of its smallest, and most promising, startups.

“It is the example,” says Charlie Bolten, senior managing director of St. Louis-based investor BioGenerator, which helped launch CoverCress.

It starts with CoverCress’ leadership team, which is filled with expats from Creve Coeur-based Bayer Crop Science (formerly Monsanto), including CEO Mike DeCamp and founder and Executive Chairman Jerry Steiner. It continues with capital, after receiving investment from the venture capital units of both Bayer and Chesterfield-based agribusiness firm Bunge Ltd.. And it culminates in business deals, such as last month, when CoverCress inked a commercial partnership with Bunge, which will use its new crop to produce a renewable fuel source.

The study of an evolving startup economy typically places emphasis on things like company creation, exits and fundraising totals. But CoverCress’ example highlights another pillar startup leaders say is crucial to elevating the region’s entrepreneurial endeavors: having corporations involved in the development of early stage companies. READ MORE