Innovation under the arch: Why St. Louis is a modern entrepreneurial hub

An image of the St. Louis skyline including the Gateway Arch.

Photo by Rudy Balasko for Shutterstock

Stephen Von Rump has lived a lot of lives in technology and startups. He’s created multiple businesses, is entrepreneur-in-residence at BioGenerator, a panel member at the National Science Foundation, and more. He’s lived all over the world, including the biggest tech hubs in the U.S., like San Francisco, Dallas, Austin, and Washington, D.C. He’s also Founder and CEO of Aegis Digital Health, based in St. Louis. 

Headshot of Stephen Von Rump

Stephen Von Rump, CEO of Aegis Digital Health. Image: Courtesy of Aegis

Tom Cottingham sat down with him to chat about his story and reflect on the reasons he decided to relocate to St. Louis, a river city with a lot of innovation flowing through it. 

Von Rump said while living in all of those other places, he never thought of St. Louis as an entrepreneurial town. But after temporarily moving back for personal reasons, his eyes were opened and he decided to stay. “I was really surprised at the breadth and depth of the ecosystem here,” he said. “Much of it in HealthTech, life sciences, AgTech, medical devices, all things that have to do with life, I guess you could say. It’s an impressive and exciting place to be.”

The two discussed the potential for grant funding from organizations like the National Institutes of Health and the NSF: “There’s a lot of money to be had there. It’s very competitive, and it’s competitive on a national level. So you’ve got to be good – you’ve got to have a great idea and you’ve got to have strong innovation. NSF uses the phrase ‘intellectual merit’. You have to have all that, but the money is available. A typical Phase I NSF/NIH grant is about $250,000. That’s a lot of money to a young company. A Phase II grant is a million and up. That’s substantial funding for a small company.”

The two discussed the impact of local academic institutions like Washington University and Saint Louis University as well the availability of capital, talent, and more in St. Louis. Check out the video.

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