Over 60 New Companies Coming To Rehabbed Building In St. Louis

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-- Ever heard of a company called Cambridge Innovation Center? Probably not.

But you`ve probably heard about some of its greatest achievements.

"One of the most famous products to come out of CIC was the Google Android operating program," said Dougan Sherwood, director of Cambridge Innovation Center.

The Massachusetts-based company is the latest tenant to join Cortex, the life sciences research district that eventually is supposed to span the 185 acres between Washington University and St. Louis University.

It already covers 20 acres and includes new several buildings, with yet another under construction for BJC.  In addition, there will be a large green space added on Boyle Avenue with small retail shops and eventually a new Metrolink stop.

An old phone company building at Duncan and Boyle in the Central West End is being rehabbed for CIC, a life science incubator company, providing lab space for start-up biotech companies.

Eventually, it expects to attract 60 to 100 new companies to its St. Louis facility, which translates to about 450 new jobs.

But the biggest tenant in the building, which is being renamed the '@4240' building, will be Washington University's office of Technology Management,  a fancy name for a place designed to attract the kinds of students and faculty looking for a place to turn ideas into products.

"An increasing percentage of them want to be able to commercialize their products, want to have another option other than traditional basic research, and if we can create that for them here, that is a big asset in recruiting people," said Hank Webber, Executive Vice Chancellor for Administration at Washington University.

As for CIC, its director says many cities are discovering in today`s economy the secret to success is similar to the approach being taken by Cortex.

"It is better to invest in hundreds or thousands of little start ups perhaps than one old company or industry, kind of all the eggs in one basket sort of thing," Sherwood said.

The development of Cortex, which began eight years ago, is expected to take at least a couple of decades to reach its full potential.  But with the economy rebounding, interest is picking up.

"What`s exciting is not only the increase in science in St. Louis which is the goal, but this is a massive urban redevelopment project," said Cortex chairman John Dubinsky. "We are focused on generating thousands of jobs for people that live in the city."

All that sounds good to Mayor Francis Slay.

"We are already getting national attention for the types of innovation occurring here in St. Louis," Slay said. "This will really bolster that in a big way."

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