Big things are happening in St. Paul – specifically in downtown St. Paul, and specifically at Osborn370, a new tech/startup/business collaboration in the old Ecolab tower on Wabasha Street.
The latest? St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter recently announced a new Techstars Accelarator Program that is sponsored by Cargill and Ecolab, called Farm to Fork. “This unique partnership with Techstars, Ecolab and Cargill will create a critical mass of entrepreneurs who will help lead Saint Paul into the future,” he said. “We are thrilled to bring innovators from across the globe to St. Paul.
Doug Baker, chairman and CEO of Ecolab, and a major investor in downtown St. Paul and its future, echoed the Mayors sentiments. “We’re excited that this innovative program will bring young companies with some of the most promising new ideas in food safety and agricultural technology to Saint Paul. I want to thank Mayor Carter for his personal effort in ensuring that we were able to locate the Techstars program in St. Paul.”
Here’s what’s what: Over the next three years, the Techstars accelerator program will bring 30 new companies from across the entire food value chain to its new location in the Osborn370 building. The types of companies that will be involved will vary, but will include mainly technology companies focused on agriculture, manufacturing and supply chains, food safety, waste reduction, and traceability.
These startups will benefit from support made possible through the investments of Techstars, Ecolab and Cargill, and will join a growing number of disruptors and tech companies located in downtown St. Paul. Joining several technology companies already operating at Osborn370, including Structural (CEO Scott Burns is one of the main reasons the Osborn370 project exists), Bridgewater Bank, a startup incubator led by American Public Media, and many more, the startups will have opportunities to collaborate with established innovators, and hopefully begin to fill the 18% office vacancies still available downtown.
David MacLennan, chairman and CEO of Cargill (Minnesota’s largest company), is no stranger to the importance of having innovative entrepreneurs as part of the overall business landscape, especially in the capital city. “The Farm to Fork accelerator allows us to identify and invest in innovative entrepreneurs focused on bringing technology solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing the food industry today.” He said in a press release. “We are proud to host this program in Minnesota, honoring the food and agriculture entrepreneurs that built this industry here over 150 years ago.”
“At Techstars we are committed to proactively building supportive and diverse entrepreneurial ecosystems,” Managing Director of Techstars Farm to Fork Brett Brohl agrees. “We are excited to bring the Farm to Fork Accelerator to downtown Saint Paul to help build upon the strong foundation already in place for entrepreneurs.”
The Techstars move to Saint Paul aligns with, and furthers the City of Saint Paul’s Full Stack Initiative. The Full Stack Initiative is a collaboration with the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce that helps attract, retain, and expand tech and innovation jobs in Saint Paul. The Full Stack Initiative was developed out of the Saint Paul Innovation Cabinet.
Councilmember Chris Tolbert who served as co-chair of the Innovation Cabinet had this to say of the initiative, “This further cements Saint Paul as a city of innovators, providing momentum to create the cutting-edge jobs of tomorrow.”
Ward 2 Councilmember Rebecca Noecker, who represents downtown St. Paul, agreed: “We’re thrilled to welcome Techstars to downtown Saint Paul. This partnership will create a new hub for innovation and help tech startups thrive in our city.”
The Techstars Farm to Fork Accelerator Program will move to its new location in mid-June 2018.
Interested in learning more about St. Paul’s resurgence as tech capital of Minnesota? Read this next: Why St. Paul’s push to become a tech hub isn’t so farfetched