Not Your Average Cubicle: Cortex Puts St. Louis on Innovation Map

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Founded in 2002 and resting on 200 acres in the Central West End, Cortex Innovation Community is the ultimate intersection of ideas and innovation. Bursting with creative energy, Cortex serves as the Midwest’s premier hub for turning the ideas of tomorrow into the realities of today.

Cortex Communications Manager Gilberto Pinela concisely defined Cortex’s mission: “Cortex is a community-based innovation hub, technology district and working space where creatives can develop products and technologies while also finding new ways of dealing with different aspects of modern conveniences.” He also emphasized how Cortex serves as a unifying presence for a broad range of innovators: “Cortex is all about community. We consider the community around us to be valuable partners for making success.”

Located near Forest Park, two universities, medical centers and diverse neighborhoods, Cortex regularly hosts community events including a farmers market, food trucks, yoga and a series of live performances that help culturally enhance the district’s environs.

Grounded on an ever-growing foundation of innovation centers, Cortex enables makers to focus on advancing technology, collaboration and inventiveness on all fronts without the hassles of corporate trappings.

The community also benefits from the partnerships forged between its tenants, including lawyers, researchers, vendors, communicators and other businesses, creating fertile terrain for fostering growth, exchanging ideas and recruiting staff.

This forging of partnerships is evident at Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) St. Louis, a center helping startups get down with co-working and office space, stocked kitchens, privacy booths, labs and event facilities suitable for conferences, meetings and receptions.

Another ecosystem partner is the Center for Emerging Technologies (CET), Missouri’s largest and oldest innovation center. Understanding the future is now, CET houses several up-and-coming technology, bioscience, consumer and manufacturing companies.

Every Thursday, Cortex is abuzz as over 500 people meet, greet, mingle and be merry at Venture Cafe, the largest weekly happening for innovators in the world. Venture Cafe has become a valuable resource for local innovators by delivering programs tailored at helping inventive go-getters connect by networking and developing relationships.

One constant that local leaders all agree on is that ensuring St. Louis’s growth as a thriving city is dependent on having resourceful young professionals build viable companies. That’s where the BioGenerator innovation center comes in. Recognizing that investing in new ideas is vital, BioGenerator collaborates with these bold entrepreneurs to build sustainable businesses.

Audacious visions also become a reality at TechShop, an 18,000-square-foot studio space where software and tools are readily available to inventors, makers and entrepreneurs looking to turn their big dreams into big business.

Blake Marggraff is the CEO for Epharmix, an evidence-based digital health company that creates medical condition-specific digital inventions to assist medical professionals with facilitating more effective treatment.

As a Bay Area ex-patriot, entrepreneur Marggraff is impressed by Cortex’s services. “It is still a bit of a surprise to find a place in the Midwest that feels oftentimes so similar to San Francisco in terms of the caliber of other folks working on their startups while, at the same time, being surrounded by some of the best customers and research partners in the country.”

Recently named one of St. Louis’s best places to work, AB Mauri North America is a baking technology company that moved from their stodgy corporate offices in Chesterfield to the more vibrant Cortex.

Rick Oleshak, vice president of marketing, discussed how he and his employees feel energized by the wide range of resources available to AB Mauri North America.

“I have worked at a variety of businesses, and the lifestyle we have here in the community is great. It’s a breath of new life where you are constantly exposed to new things. There are a lot of options that you do not have [in] other environments. It’s very inclusive and very energetic.”

Having Cortex in St. Louis is a feather in our city’s cap. Today, many American cities lack a nexus where like-minded neighbors focused on innovation and thinking differently work in conjunction with businesses, government and nearby universities to create an environment where research, development and entrepreneurship act as a vanguard for economic growth and civic stewardship.

Vicia Brings Flavorful Noise By Going Under the Soil

Wouldn’t it be great if every time your parents told you to eat your vegetables they were referring to the ones plated at Vicia, the zesty and kinetic restaurant bringing innovation to Cortex.

Even before a plate was served, Vicia was drawing critical attention to itself with its commitment to painstakingly prepare freshly cultivated and curated meals that captured the inventive spirit of the Cortex district.

Offering an ever-evolving menu, Vicia has carved a name for itself in St. Louis’s culinary landscape by digging in the dirt to serve vegetable-forward cuisine that has been wood fired to capture robust flavors that taste every bit as good as the hype decrees.

Recently selected as a participant in the Nosh Pit at LouFest, Vicia is the crowning achievement for Executive Chef Michael Gallina and his general manager, wife and partner Tara, whose strength lies in giving diners an unparalleled selection of salads, soups, entrees and beverages that are invigorating and dynamic.

For more information, call 314-553-9239 or visit viciarestaurant.comM