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Cortex Innovation Community Announces New Head


The Cortex Innovation Community has named its next president and CEO.

Sam Fiorello will begin the job March 30, replacing Dennis Lower, who announced last year that he would be retiring.

Fiorello has served as chief operating officer and senior vice president of the Danforth Plant Science Center, the Creve Coeur-based nonprofit research institute, since 1998. In 2009, he also became president of BRDG Park, the center’s affiliated research park.

Cortex is home to more than 400 tech companies with nearly 6,000 employees.

Fiorello told St. Louis Public Radio that Cortex will continue to attract entrepreneurs and companies from around the world. 

“We’ll work on furthering the strategic plan and then work on things like, 'How do we continue the momentum at Cortex with building and activity and companies? How do we continue to dial up and maybe do a better job with the innovation ecosystem piece?'” he said. 

Fiorello said he also wants to reach out to the surrounding community to address diversity, equity and inclusion issues. One way, he said, is to offer more training opportunities for people living in the St. Louis region. 

"Not alone, but in partnership with enterprises in our community, we can create some of the world's best training programs to move people from unemployment or under-employment into jobs or fill positions that desperately need to be filled,” he said.

The Cortex Innovation Community aims to help commercialize university and corporate research, grow the region's startup community, and recruit national and international tech companies. Employees working at Cortex generated more than $1 billion in direct economic activity, according to a study released this month

Cortex Board Chairman and Executive Vice Chancellor at Washington University Henry Webber said Fiorello already has deep ties to the innovation community.

“He has a strong track record of recruiting companies from across the globe, and I am confident he will lead the organization into a bright and prosperous future,” he said.

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