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The Danforth Plant Science Center


Connections, inventions fuel startups at Danforth

February 13, 2021

Some key relationships among companies sharing space at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center are made in the lunchroom.

“That’s the coolest benefit,” said Matt Helms of NewLeaf Symbiotics. “This woman with a PhD literally connected with a professor with the dirt lab in the cafeteria. It’s a networking campus.”

The companies occupying the center’s BRDG Park innovation incubator not only share laboratory and greenhouse space. They also share their brains.

“There are opportunities to potentially meet with other tenants,” said Helms, chief commercial officer of New Leaf, an ag tech company working with microbials to be used in plant growth and protection. “It’s very open, very collaborative in that fashion.”

Helms joined NewLeaf two years ago after an 18-year career with Monsanto. He grew up on a family farm near Belleville, Illinois, just a few miles across the Mississippi River from St. Louis.