The Governor’s Innovation Task Force has yet to formulate specific recommendations for helping make Missouri a hub for tech startups and innovation, but the group is progressing toward that, according to Drew Erdmann, the task force’s sponsor.
Erdmann, who in January became Missouri’s first chief operating officer, said “there’s not a consensus” on specific actions the group will suggest to Gov. Eric Greitens. But, Erdmann said, the group maintains a “positive outlook of momentum.”
Erdmann provided that update Wednesday, after the task force held a closed session in Columbia. It was the third of five scheduled roundtables across the state, following June meetings in St. Louis and Kansas City. Another roundtable took place Thursday in Springfield, and the final session is scheduled for July 31 in Cape Girardeau.
Greitens announced the task force on June 19 with the stated goal of finding “smart, efficient ways to support innovation, entrepreneurs, and new technology (startups).” The task force is expected to complete its work by the end of August.
The task force collected responses to an online survey between mid-June and this week, drawing close to 1,700 responses. The survey results suggest that members of the public have a relatively positive outlook on the startup environment in the state. Sixty-seven percent of respondents agreed that Missouri is a “great place for entrepreneurs and innovators to start a business,” and 70 percent agreed that the climate for entrepreneurship is improving.
However, just less than a quarter of respondents agreed that Missouri startups have access to the capital they need. Only 14 percent of respondents agreed that the state’s support for startups, like funding and tax incentives, is sufficient.
Erdmann said the main issues Missouri faces are retaining startup talent and attracting individuals who could generate big ideas and profits.
“There isn’t necessarily the density needed, yet,” Erdmann said.
The task force, he said, has agreed on broad subjects, such as the need for greater access to capital for startups, as well as the importance of the state to have a mobilizing vision for the future of the industry.
As far as deliverables the task force will produce by the end of August, Erdmann said the product would consist of both primary and secondary research on the state’s startup environment.
Erdmann also said the group will produce a list of action items for Greitens and legislative recommendations for state lawmakers.