T-REX Goes Global

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s IPR: Technology Commercialization Program Includes a Tour of St. Louis, T-REX

In the middle of World Cup frenzy, T-REX donned its international hat (literally—see below) for a visit from the international delegation of the Special American Business Internship Training (SABIT) Program. An initiative by the U.S. Department of Commerce, SABIT encourages economic development in the Eurasian region. Representatives from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan toured T-REX and sat for three panel discussions and Q&A sessions in the 7th floor Law Library.

Our mascot with gifts presented by the delegates from Kazakhstan!
Little Rex with gifts presented by the delegates from Kazakhstan!

Before coming to St. Louis, the SABIT tour was in Washington, DC. The SABIT program’s goals are for the SABIT delegates “to return home with new skills and knowledge, enabling them to affect change and make improvements within their own organizations and across the regions,” according to the program description given to T-REX. “They will also be better prepared to work successfully with U.S. partners.”

“This is useful for us… because in Russia and former Soviet countries we have not enough for innovation projects but [we do have] directions for development,” said SABIT delegate Andrei Generalov. Generalov is President of the International Investment Center of Russia, a non-governmental organization in special consultative status with the UN’s Economic and Social Council, ECOSOC. Generalov expressed hopes for future international collaboration between students, researchers, and nonprofit members.

The delegates, who represented IP law firms, innovation centers, governmental organizations, and universities, stopped in St. Louis as part of a larger tour focused on intellectual property rights and technology commercialization. Before hitting T-REX on the last day of the St. Louis leg of their tour, the group spent the week at our city’s entrepreneurial landmarks: the Helix Biotech Incubator, Cortex and the Center for Emerging Technologies, the St. Louis Regional Chamber, the Wash U School of Law, and the International Institute of St. Louis, among others.

Big Rex and a delegate get patriotic.
Big Rex and a delegate get patriotic.

During the panels at T-REX, delegates heard from the accelerator, mentoring, and capital investment groups of T-REX (Capital Innovators, Arch Grants, ITEN, and Cultivation Capital), as well as Arch Angels, venture capitalists, and T-REX’s own executive director Patty Hagen. Delegates asked questions about collaboration and competition in the city; the panelists stressed the importance of philanthropy and community in building a successful St. Louis. “The greatest competition among companies here is for funding,” Francis Chmelir of ITEN said. “But the one thing we agree on is that it would be wrong for us to monopolize that funding and go after them at the expensive of our colleagues …. Because we can have a collective, stronger impact working together, we advocate collaboratively—the job is too big for one organization.”

Patty Hagen agreed that the presence of various investors and mentoring organizations in T-REX means more help for entrepreneurs than hindrance. “We leverage each other’s work in order to ensure a greater outcome in the region. I don’t see this as competitive in any way.”

T-REX companies Rovertown, Juristat, Greetabl, TopOPPS, and Gremln also sat for a panel, answering questions about building a business and staying in St. Louis– and in T-REX. “This place is a catalyst,” Gremln CEO Ryan Bell said. “This place is a catalyst,” Gremln CEO Ryan Bell said. “It brings the whole community together—accountants and attorneys and service providers come down here and offer services to winners of competitions or to companies that have promise. We may not have existed if T-REX wasn’t here to shine a light on us.”

T-REx entrepreneurs discuss starting a business and making it succeed in St. Louis.
T-REX entrepreneurs discuss starting a business and making it succeed in St. Louis.

“What’s happening in T-REX is indicative of what’s happening in the city as a whole,” said Zoe Scharf, Creative Director and Co-founder of Greetabl. “St. Louis is trending towards more startups and more entrepreneurship. The community here is giving us resources in the form of … grants, but also in different entrepreneurs and incubators and investors. People are willing to talk to you before you’ve made the accomplishments that they might require in [a place like] New York City.”

Sarkis Knyazyan, a member of the SABIT delegation, is a managing partner at Knyazyan & Partners IP Law Firm in Armenia. “It is amazing how fast this region is growing economically,” he said. “To know… how we can apply this knowledge, [we’re interested in] meeting up with other businesses, individuals, companies.” The presence and collaboration of St. Louis’ many seed funding, angel, and venture capital organizations make the city and its resurgence “very impressive,” Knyazyan said. “You see why they say this is the second Silicon Valley.”


“The Special American Business Internship Training (SABIT) program builds partnerships and provides technical assistance by training Eurasian business leaders in U.S. business practices. These training programs directly support Eurasian economic and civil society development by encouraging market-based reforms, while generating valuable export and investment opportunities for U.S. industry.

While Eurasian markets are full of opportunity, there are an equal number of risks that must be considered. A sound understanding of the local market environment is instrumental in managing these risks. SABIT enables U.S. companies to develop this local knowledge by establishing partnerships and training local Eurasian management.

SABIT manages a training program that turns partnerships into results.”

From trade.gov/sabit/

About the Panelists

ITEN: Catalyst for Tech Startups

Providing unique programs, events and access to resources that accelerate venture development; designed by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs, requiring neither payment nor equity, ITEN is a unique community asset and a proven route to success.

Arch Angels

The mission of the St. Louis Arch Angels is to provide opportunities for our members to obtain outstanding financial returns by investing in early-stage companies with high growth potential in the St. Louis Region and accelerating them to market leadership.

Capital Innovators

The Capital Innovators Accelerator Program, based in St. Louis, MO, provides $50,000 in seed funding, project-based mentorship from a seasoned pool of knowledgeable experts, stellar perks, networking, and follow-on funding opportunities over the course of 12 weeks.

Arch Grants

The Arch Grants Business Plan Competition helps to shape the image of St. Louis among aspiring entrepreneurs and others looking to have a formative role in building a new entrepreneurial climate in St. Louis.

Through the Business Plan Competition, Arch Grants selects promising startups to receive $50,000.  Typically, taking venture capital forces an aspiring entrepreneur to sacrifice a significant stake in their company in exchange for funds.  This process is often limited to ventures with access to the startup hotbeds like Silicon Valley, New York, and Boston.

Cultivation Capital

Cultivation Capital is a venture capital firm managed by team of serial entrepreneurs. We know what it takes to start, cultivate and grow a successful company. We know the struggles, the challenges, the rewards and the successes. We are harnessing that knowledge to help develop and partner with the next generation of great entrepreneurs. Our funds are focused in the areas of technology and health and life sciences.

Cultivation Capital has a track record of investing in successful technology companies across the Midwest. In Spring 2013, Cultivation Capital announced the launch of its Health and Life Sciences fund. Our newest fund is dedicated to investing in healthcare information technology and related mobile health platforms, medical devices, compound and drug discovery and plant/seed or biosciences technology.


TopOPPS plugs into your CRM to drive deals through the pipeline quicker using intelligent prompting, easy mobile updates and enhanced visibility.


RoverTown is the world’s largest mobile student discount program available to millions of college students at over 100 universities.


Gremln provides software for social media management within the financial services industry.  With features such as approval workflow, filtration, pattern matching, and archiving, Gremln enables financial firms to participate in social media while helping maintain compliance with government regulations


Juristat transforms raw patent applications data into actionable analytics allowing you to optimize prosecution and marketing strategies. Our union of artificial intelligence, big data, and an unparalleled understanding of the U.S. patent system provides prosecutors with the expertise to maximize allowances, manage client expectations, and dominate the competition.


At its most basic level, greetabl is a greeting card that quickly folds into an adorable gift box, allowing you to wrap gift cards, jewelry, treats, and more with your hand-written message. What it really is, though, is an experience– a fun and memorable way to connect with the important people in your life.

greetabl complements all types of gifts, from the silly to the sincere, and is made in the USA with premium materials and inspired designs.