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Cortex Innovation Community Announces New Head

Sam Fiorello will take over as president and CEO of the Cortex Innovation Community on March 30.
Cortex
/
Sam Fiorello will take over as president and CEO of the Cortex Innovation Community on March 30.

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.

Sam Fiorello will take over as president and CEO of the Cortex Innovation Community on March 30.
Credit Cortex
/
Sam Fiorello will take over as president and CEO of the Cortex Innovation Community on March 30.

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.

Follow Wayne Pratt on Twitter: @wayneradio

Follow Maria Altman on Twitter: @radioaltman

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org

Copyright 2021 St. Louis Public Radio. To see more, visit St. Louis Public Radio.

Wayne Pratt is a veteran journalist who has made stops at radio stations, wire services and websites throughout North America. He comes to St. Louis Public Radio from Indianapolis, where he was assistant managing editor at Inside Indiana Business. Wayne also launched a local news operation at NPR member station WBAA in West Lafayette, Indiana, and spent time as a correspondent for a network of more than 800 stations. His career has included positions in Sydney, Nova Scotia, Toronto, Ontario and Phoenix, Arizona. Wayne grew up near Ottawa, Ontario and moved to the United States in the mid-90s on a dare. Soon after, he met his wife and has been in the U.S. ever since.
Altman came to St. Louis Public Radio from Dallas where she hosted All Things Considered and reported north Texas news at KERA. Altman also spent several years in Illinois: first in Chicago where she interned at WBEZ; then as the Morning Edition host at WSIU in Carbondale; and finally in Springfield, where she earned her graduate degree and covered the legislature for Illinois Public Radio.