BioSTL officials working to bring international business to St. Louis

ST. LOUIS (KPLR) - The National Ploughing Championships is an enormous event held this year in the town of Tullamore, County Offaly, Ireland.

Last year as many as 280-thousand people attended this farm expo.  They travel to this part of rural Ireland to learn about latest products and services offered by ag-related companies in Europe, and beyond.

The event is sponsored by economic development organization Enterprise Ireland.  Their logo is “where innovation means business.”

Among those networking at countless meet and greet opportunities are officials with BioSTL, the organization founded by Dr. William Danforth.

BioSTL is dedicated to growing St. Louis` bioscience and innovation ecosystems.

Donn Rubin is BioSTL CEO and President.

“Ireland is a place that has tremendous innovation in the areas that match-up very closely with the strengths of St. Louis,” said Rubin.  “One of those areas is plant science or agri-tech.  St. Louis has more plant scientists than anywhere else in the world.  We have tremendous strengths in corporate, in research, in start-ups.”

BioSTL officials are in Ireland recruiting two companies in particular to establish a presence in the middle of America.  MagGrow officials pitched their insecticide drift reduction technology at the Enterprise Ireland Innovation Arena.

MagGrow Chief Executive Gary Wickham said, “One of the biggest problems in the world in agriculture right now is pesticide spray drift.  In terms of price, it's about 24,000 Euro for a 24-meter boom.  The market is enormous.  There's a million booms in the U.S. alone, and also in Europe.  All farmers know with small droplets you get better efficacy.  Our system delivers that without the drift.”

Moocall is a sensor attached to a cow`s tail that notifies a farmer by cell phone when the animal is about to give birth.  Emmet Savage is Moocall CEO.

“We use those contractions and the tail movements associated with those contractions to accurately predict when the cow is going to calve,” said Savage.  “And based on that information we send a text message to the farmer to notify him when the calving is about one hour away.  We currently sell the sensor at $299 plus tax.”

Savage was asked if he had been in touch with BioSTL officials.

“If BioSTL can help Moocall in its drive to get into America, which is probably our most important market, we've got to sit down and see what we can do with these guys.”

In many ways, BioSTL officials traveled to Ireland to try to recreate recent success they`ve had in Israel.  After coordinating with BioSTL, four Israeli companies have opted to establish a presence in St. Louis.

Rubin said, “And it's really exceeded our expectations.  It’s proven to us the model works, and that St. Louis has an attractive combination of assets.”