Our group of young professionals strive to support, expand, and shape entrepreneurship and innovation in the St. Louis region and beyond.
Empowering First-Time Entrepreneurs
In 2013, alumni from BALSA and St. Louis community members founded the philanthropic branch of the organization, The BALSA Foundation. The mission of the Foundation is to promote social equity and prosperity in the St. Louis region by empowering first-time entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses. In addition to The BALSA Grant, they fulfill this mission by providing two other services to help first time entrepreneurs create, improve, and launch their businesses: The Entrepreneur's Roadmap and Idea Support.
To date, BALSA has donated over $68,000 to The BALSA Foundation which has helped fund 57 first-time entrepreneurs in the St. Louis region. This funding opportunity empowers first-time entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses. Applicants submit proposals that are reviewed by The Foundation. Ten BALSA Grant finalists are then selected to receive $1,000 in seed funding, working space, and professional services such as legal counseling, accounting and marketing. Additionally, they are offered a series of workshops and mentoring to help propel their businesses. The BALSA Grant is a biannual event funded by donations from The BALSA Group.
BALSA has donated over $68,000 to The BALSA Grant to support first-time entrepreneurs in St. Louis areas.
Through BALSA Grant, BALSA has helped fund more than 57 first-time entrepreneurs in the St. Louis region.
Years Serving Communities
Through its philanthropic arm, The BALSA Foundation, BALSA has helped support local entrepreneurs for more than 4 years.
In 2018, BALSA contributed fundings to MARC uSTAR (Maximizing Access to Research Careers Undergraduate Student Training in Academic Research) program, one of two NIH-funded programs at Washington University in St Louis dedicated to preparing minority undergraduate students for PhD or MD/PhD training in STEM. Through this program, BALSA is sponsoring Luis Ruiz (Biomedical Engineering, Class of 2020) to support his academic and research endeavors.
BALSA has also contributed to larger initiatives throughout Missouri to improve entrepreneurial resources and boost innovation. In 2017, BALSA consulted for the Missouri Governor’s Innovation Task Force which examined the state’s current level of innovation and entrepreneurship and proposed ways to enhance them. As a result of BALSA’s research and recommendations, Missouri is implementing initiatives to reduce regulations for startups, improve entrepreneurial infrastructure and funding opportunities, and recruit and retain talent in Missouri.
The BALSA Group was the first consulting organization of its kind, dedicated to preparing PhD students and postdocs for careers beyond academia. It has since inspired additional consulting groups in other cities across the United States such as MiLEAD in Ann Arbor, Michigan and Forth River Solutions in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
BALSA has been featured by Nature and Science for its innovative business model and success. In addition, BALSA published a 2013 Nature Biotechnology piece describing the gaps in academic training that motivated its creation and its ongoing efforts to change university culture surrounding non-academic careers for PhDs. The article was the journal’s most read paper that year, has been cited 39 times, and has an Altmetric score ranking in the 99th percentile of similarly aged articles for all journals.