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St. Louis tech startups get a boost with Moonshot Labs opening

The lab creates a space for tech startups to bounce ideas off of each other while using geospatial data to innovate and grow

ST. LOUIS — A local St. Louis non-profit has opened its Geospatial Innovation Center, a shared innovation workspace that allows startup tech companies to bounce ideas off of each other and grow together using geospatial data. 

Downtown startup incubator T-REX plans to take advantage of the presence of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) — which is finalizing plans for a space called Moonshot Labs within the Geospatial Innovation Center — to help advance efforts between NGA, industry and academia in the region.

Developers at T-REX said this means more tech jobs created in our town.

“The Moonshot Lab initiative that the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is partnering with is a one-of-a-kind initiative,” Dr. Patricia Hagen, T-REX said. “These things are really important elements of a movement focused on geospatial tech that don’t exist elsewhere in the county.”

Hagen said the potential is exponential. The business that will utilize this 16,000-square-foot lab are tech companies that utilize geospatial data. Geospatial data describes things on earth: objects, people, etc.

“You may have seen early in the pandemic a lot of effort in tracking the disease,” Mark Tatgenhorst, T-REX Geospatial Program Director said. “Where is the virus, where is it going to spread too. folks in the medical industry used geospatial data."

The New Lab is a partnership with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency which uses workspace in T-REX’s building downtown now. The Federal Organization is building a new Wester Headquarters in North St. Louis. The Moonshot Lab is going to be more of what T-Rex excels in, a space where tech innovators can bounce ideas off one another.

“It’s so important for people to be around like-minded companies,” said Justin Bennett, the president of Geodata IT. “Whether you are just starting out or in the process of growing.”

After 22 years working for NGA, Bennett broke off several years ago to start his own geospatial IT company.

"It was the school of hard knocks,” Bennett said. “Running a business is hard work. When I decided to move into the T-REX in 2017, I collaborated and then I saw explosive growth."

The lab is at the forefront of making St. Louis a worldwide hub for tech.

“This is our little neighborhood and there's a lot going on in terms of supporting advanced IT initiatives in downtown."

T-REX said businesses that use their workspace have already developed 5,000 new jobs in our area.

The people at T-REX and the work they've done has already helped develop 5,000 new jobs in the area.

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