BioSTL Wins $1.5M Grant to Launch Center for Defense Medicine

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  • Published on September 30, 2020
  • Last Updated October 4, 2021
  • In Entrepreneur Quarterly
  • Edited by EQ

BioSTL’s largest grant will help deliver new innovations to support warfighters. This is the sixth – and largest – competitive EDA grant BioSTL has won since 2010, totaling $4.75 million.

BioSTL has won a $1.5 million grant from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce to launch a new Center for Defense Medicine in St. Louis. The Center for Defense Medicine will leverage the biomedical commercialization strengths of BioGenerator by assisting startups across the St. Louis region in developing innovative solutions to meet the needs of U.S. military and security forces.

The Center for Defense Medicine scales BioSTL’s success across a range of commercialization and cluster-building programs, leveraging St. Louis’ unique strengths as a global center for bioscience R&D, which is an untapped wealth of military-relevant medical technologies. The Center will accelerate the path to market for early-stage, defense medicine technologies by evaluating, de-risking, and advancing commercial viability – yielding stable, high-growth ventures that catalyze economic growth for the St. Louis region.

“BioSTL has quietly grown its footprint in defense medicine with our staff expending considerable time and resources to understand the processes and medical demands of defense agencies,” said Eric Gulve, BioGenerator President. “Concentrating and expanding this effort through the Center for Defense Medicine will unlock new startup activity and economic opportunity for St. Louis.”

Defense Medicine Startups

The BioSTL team already has begun identifying local technologies that have both strong defense and civilian applications, and building out companies, including:

  • Gateway Biotechnology: Secured more than $12M in federal grants to develop drugs for noise-induced hearing loss, a significant unmet need in military and industrial settings.
  • KaloCyte: With more than $7M in federal grant funding, developing artificial red blood cell technology for treating blood loss in battlefield and civilian trauma applications.
  • NuPeak Therapeutics: More than $4M in federal grants have funded new drug research for “burn pit syndrome” in warfighters and for other chronic lung diseases.
  • Edison Agrosciences: Leveraging $1.7M in federal grant funding, Edison is developing sunflower as a production system for natural rubber used in defense and civilian aviation.

“BioSTL has built a robust playbook that allows St. Louis pharmaceutical and medical device companies to enjoy a tremendous success rate when competing for federal non-dilutive grants,” said Charlie Bolten, BioGenerator Senior Vice President. “Applying this proven system to defense medicine technologies will enable even greater leverage of investment capital.”


Over the past year, BioSTL has worked with partners and top defense industry experts to map St. Louis’ research strengths and build a pipeline of innovation ready to be turned into companies and products that meet the country’s defense needs. In particular, demand for this innovation comes from the Department of Defense (DOD) to reduce the lethality of attacks on US Warfighters, and the Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), which aims to secure the nation from chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats, as well as from pandemic influenza and emerging infectious diseases and other areas of defense/homeland security.

“What makes defense medicine particularly attractive for BioSTL is that the DOD and BARDA are unique in often serving as a first-funder and first-customer for new technology, enabling the development of commercial-ready products while requiring less equity capital,” said Harry Arader, BioGenerator Director of Entrepreneur Development. “In addition, the DOD wants – in fact relies on – companies to achieve sustainability by serving relevant civilian markets with the innovations funded by DOD money, creating further incentives for investors.”

With BioGenerator’s commercialization programs at the core, this new Center for Defense Medicine aligns and amplifies all of BioSTL’s programs and expertise to identify, vet, and advance technologies. In particular, the grant will help scale the following programs to enhance support for defense-related innovation:

  • Fundamentals: offers would-be company founders personalized business coaching, mainly serving technically-trained inventors.
  • BioGenerator Grants: provides non-dilutive, proof-of-concept grants for initial de-risking activities, like: patent strategy, regulatory guidance, market studies, expert consultants, prototyping, or purchase of materials for critical experiments.­
  • Grants to Business: offers intensive training and resources to develop competitive applications for federal and other business grants. These non-dilutive grants help early stage companies advance their technology to realistically compete for venture capital.
  • Inclusion: authentically engages underrepresented communities through new and existing networks to recruit talented innovators and mentors from diverse backgrounds.
  • GlobalSTL: attracts cutting-edge innovation and economic activity to the region from international locations by matching St. Louis’ strengths with global sources of technology.

Using the EDA grant and matching funds from BioSTL, the Center of Defense Medicine will source innovation by raising awareness in St. Louis of defense medicine demand; connect regional innovators to government decision-makers; fund milestone-based proof-of-concept plans to advance the technology readiness of innovation; support business creation through business model development and financial modeling; and provide substantial support to companies that pursue funding from non-dilutive, defense sector grant and contract sources.

“Grantees were selected from a competitive pool of more than 600 applications and represent exemplary innovation and entrepreneurship from rural and urban areas across America,” said Dana Gartzke, Performing the Delegated Duties of the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development. Of all 600 applications, BioSTL was one of only seven applicants nationwide to win the maximum $1.5 million award.

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