FOCUS St. Louis® is pleased to announce Dennis Lower, President and CEO of Cortex Innovation Community, as the recipient of the 2018 FOCUS Leadership Award. This prestigious award, chosen by the FOCUS Board of Directors, is presented annually to individuals who demonstrate innovative leadership, generate a meaningful impact in the community, and encourage strong community leadership in others. The award will be presented at the What’s Right with the Region celebration on Thursday, May 10, 2018, at Sheldon Concert Hall.
Dennis Lower came to St. Louis in May 2010 as the first hired executive for the Cortex Innovation Community. Under his leadership, Cortex has expanded from its original vision as a bioscience only district to embracing all technologies with a focus on creating a mixed-use innovation community. And like all communities, it now also includes residential, restaurant, transportation and hotel amenities.
Today, Cortex is the largest innovation campus in the St. Louis region, with nearly $650 million invested in 1.9 million square feet and over 4,300 jobs to date. At full buildout, Cortex anticipates an investment of $2.3 billion in 4 million square feet of mixed-use development. Cortex is currently home to seven innovation centers and accelerators – the Center for Emerging Technologies (CET), BioGenerator, Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC), Venture Café, Sling Health/MedLaunch, Capital Innovators Accelerator and the Ameren Energy Accelerator – and more than 350 companies.
“Dennis Lower has been pivotal in the growth and development of the Cortex Innovation Community,” says Mark Grieman, board chair for FOCUS St. Louis. “In addition to the mark it’s making here in our region, Cortex is attracting attention on the national and global stage as a model and example for other innovation districts.”
Beyond the economic development impact, Lower and his staff are working to expand Cortex’s reach and impact through its inclusion and workforce development initiatives. In 2013, Lower collaborated with St. Louis Public Schools to open the Collegiate School of Medicine & Bioscience, a magnet high school serving students from 35 ZIP codes with a STEM-focused curriculum. Meanwhile, Cortex’s Center for Emerging Technologies launched Square One (SQ1), a hands-on training program designed to provide support to early-stage entrepreneurs and first-time business owners in the St. Louis region.
“The best innovation happens in a creative community that is intentionally diverse in gender, age, race, culture and technology sectors; where ideas can be challenged and solutions offered from a variety of viewpoints. Creating an inclusive community is not only the right thing to do; it is the necessary thing to do to build the most successful tech companies,” said Dennis Lower. In addition to his leadership at Cortex, Lower serves on the boards of the St. Louis PBS Nine Network, St. Louis Contractor Loan Fund, Venture Café St. Louis and the Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience.
Prior to his arrival in St. Louis, Lower was responsible for developing two urban research parks, serving as Vice President of Planning & Development for the Biomedical Research Foundation of NW Louisiana and Executive Director of University Heights Science Park in Newark, New Jersey.
Past recipients of the FOCUS Leadership Award have included Dr. Kelvin Adams, Dr. Jason Purnell, Frankie Muse Freeman, Anna Crosslin, Chris Krehmeyer, Martin L. Mathews and Donald Suggs.
The St. Louis community is invited to join us to recognize Dennis Lower for his leadership and commitment to strengthening our region, as well as the 20 What’s Right with the Region! award honorees (to be announced in February).
21st Annual FOCUS St. Louis What’s Right with the Region! Awards
Thursday, May 10, 2018, · 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. Sheldon Concert Hall