There is more to Missouri’s geospatial technology industry than the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s $1.7 billion NGA West Headquarters Campus under construction in north St. Louis. NGA delivers geospatial intelligence to policymakers, military service members, intelligence professionals and first responders. According to the agency, anyone who sails a U.S. ship, flies a U.S. aircraft, makes national policy decisions, fights wars, locates targets, responds to natural disasters, or even navigates with a cellphone relies on NGA. The new campus is scheduled to open in 2025.
The geospatial sector already is responsible for more than 27,000 jobs at dozens of companies in the St. Louis MSA and has an economic impact of about $5 billion in the region. And it’s just getting started. In October 2019, leaders from St. Louis’ public and private sectors came together behind an initiative to bolster the region’s geospatial sector and develop a strategic plan for the future. Called GeoFutures, the initiative is guided by an advisory committee that features leaders from the region’s public, business, civic and academic sectors.
“The St. Louis region is already greatly benefitting from GeoFuture’s initiatives,” Rodney Crim, CEO and President of the St. Louis Partnership, said. “We will see this industry workforce and entrepreneurship continue to grow as St. Louis becomes a global leader in the geospatial sphere.”
Geospatial technology relates to the collection or processing of data that is associated with location. These technologies have come of age in the last decade and are now integral to how businesses function and the way people conduct daily activities. For example, geospatial technology powers satellite systems, mobile phone mapping, asset tracking, and it enables more effective decision-making in industries such as agriculture, mining, transportation and city planning.
In 2020, GeoFutures released the GeoFutures Strategic Roadmap that lays out a detailed pathway by which St. Louis can strengthen its position as the geospatial center of excellence over the next 10 years. The roadmap notes that St. Louis could gain a competitive advantage in geospatial technologies by focusing on four industry sectors: national security; digital/precision agriculture; transportation and logistics; and health care delivery.
The plan calls for a focus on five strategic priority areas:
The global market for geospatial location data, products and services is expected to reach over $439 billion with double-digit growth each year. In addition, every direct geospatial job creates another 1.55 jobs in the St. Louis region.
In November 2020, NGA announced the formation of a new geospatial accelerator with
Missouri Technology Corporation (MTC) based in Missouri. The accelerator is a vehicle to drive connections between NGA employees and industry, furthering the collective geospatial efforts in the region.
“Our relationships with industry and academia are crucial to helping NGA solve the challenges we face in keeping our nation secure,” said NGA Director Vice Admiral Robert Sharp during remarks at the Geospatial Gateway Forum virtual event in October 2020. “Every time I visit St. Louis, I’m reminded of how much we can accomplish together.”
The geospatial sector is responsible for more than 27,000 jobs in the St. Louis MSA with an economic impact of $5 billion in the region.
“The goal of the accelerator is to grow the number of geospatial solutions available to NGA and its customers,” said Christine Woodard, NGA’s STL Geospatial Ecosystem Engagement lead. “The accelerator will provide early-stage geospatial companies an opportunity to mature their technology for both commercial and defense applications.”
And in July 2021, NGA opened their first unclassified innovation center called Moonshot Labs at the T-REX innovation center in Missouri.
Missouri also is home to the headquarters of the Climate Corporation, the digital farming arm of Bayer Crop Science. The company markets a digital farming platform called Climate FieldView™ that helps farmers manage risk and increase productivity while simplifying their operations. It offers farmers a single platform to unite data from each piece of their precision equipment — including tractors, planters, sprayers and combines — and access those insights from anywhere with a smartphone, tablet device or computer.