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Press Coverage

Young Israeli biotech firm chooses St. Louis for start of U.S. operations

 

November 21, 2014

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

 

 

By Tim Barker

A young Israeli biotech firm is opening a U.S. office in St. Louis.

The firm, Kaiima Bio-Agritech, is developing a plant breeding technology that promises to increase agricultural productivity and yields without using genetically modified organisms.

 

The company will have an office at the Cambridge Innovation Center-St. Louis, where it will start with a handful of employees.

 

“Although the initial presence in St. Louis will be small, they are poised for growth,” said Donn Rubin, president and chief executive of BioSTL.

 

Earlier this year, his organization launched a recruitment effort — St. Louis-Israel Innovation Connection — focused on attracting young Israeli companies looking to expand into the U.S.

 

Kaiima was one of the companies the group visited during a trip to that nation in May. That the firm so quickly decided to set up an operation in St. Louis says something to Rubin.

 

“It’s a validation of our thesis and of our approach,” Rubin said. “It makes us very hopeful that there will be more successes.”

 

For Kaiima — the name translates to sustainability in Hebrew — the move to St. Louis is seen as a way to tap into a region with a strong biotech network near one of the nation’s most important farming regions.

 

“The Midwest is a natural target,” said Doron Gal, chief executive of the company, which was founded in 2007. “There’s just a great infrastructure of people, talent and laboratories that can support the growth of a company like ours.”

 

BioSTL’s goal is to attract companies already successful at raising venture capital and looking to open a sales office, research facility or regional headquarters in the United States. They aren’t expecting the firms to move their entire operations.

 

Kaiima fits these goals in that the company already has raised nearly $100 million in venture capital and is opening a small operation here.

 

The company will be eligible for as much as $81,000 in incentives through the Missouri Works program, assuming it meets various goals, including hiring five employees with an average wage of $92,000.

 

Kaiima has just over 100 employees, with vast majority of them at its headquarters in Israel. The company also has a small office in China.

 

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Dispatch-Post.

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