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Startup Connection ’16 to feature more than 70 new businesses

Startup Connection | provided

The St. Louis region will celebrate its entrepreneurial community Wednesday evening with Startup Connection.

The event will bring together more than 70 startups, along with investors, sponsoring companies, entrepreneur support organizations and community members. The startups will each give a 60 second elevator pitch as they compete for $250,000 in cash and prizes.

Startup Connection’s managing director Phyllis Ellison said the event highlights what’s happening among the region’s startups.

“This is the place to come see what’s going to be hot in the next 12 to 18 months,” she said, “what startups are coming onto the scene and get that first peek at a lot of them.”

When the annual event began back in 2008, Ellison said the goal was to connect recently laid off corporate employees with startups. It’s morphed into bringing the entire entrepreneurial ecosystem together to highlight startup ventures in manufacturing, biotechnology, consumer products, education, FinTech and IT.

About 70 sponsoring companies and entrepreneurial support groups will also be on hand with information booths.

“So if someone is thinking about starting a business or recently launched one, this is a fabulous opportunity to find 70 resources under one roof on one evening and learn how to connect with the ones that can help them move their business forward,” Ellison said.

The top prize for startups in the Venture Showcase will be $50,000. There will also be a $15,000 People’s Choice Award, and student startups will compete for $1,500.

Startup Connection is the anchor event for the Global Entrepreneurism Week in St. Louis, an effort to highlight entrepreneurship throughout the U.S. Christine Karslake, vice president of innovation and entrepreneurship at the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, said it’s about supporting startups and helping them grow.

“This is our next Express Scripts, our next Monsanto, our next Enterprise,” Karslake said.

The event takes place Wednesday from 5 to 9 p.m. at Washington University’s Knight Hall.

Follow Maria on Twitter: @radioaltman

Maria is the newscast, business and education editor for St. Louis Public Radio.