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Recognizing 100 CEOs & C-level Executives
Donn Rubin Biostl

Donn Rubin

Founding President & CEO

BioSTL

Location: St. Louis, MO

Founded: 2001

Industry: Nonprofit

A variety of learning experiences in Donn Rubin’s early career established the foundation for his leadership of BioSTL. Having studied economics, finance and law and after several years practicing in a large corporate law firm, Rubin left a traditional career behind to immerse himself in Eastern Europe 30 years ago. He undertook the challenge to positively impact a region of the world transitioning from authoritarian Communism to Democracy, market economies and the rule of law.

Rubin chose to return to his hometown of St. Louis with the hope of similarly bringing positive systematic change to the community that raised him. In 2001, cross sector leaders from St. Louis established BioSTL as a coordinating entity to catalyze the region’s innovation economy and from its beginning, Rubin served as the leader.

The mission of BioSTL is to ensure that St. Louis thrives by building a world class innovation economy. Its primary focus domains are St. Louis’ strengths in medicine, healthcare and agriculture technology.

Under Rubin’s leadership, BioSTL has developed and executed strategies that have built an ecosystem and a purpose-driven economy that helps to solve societal challenges through innovation. “BioSTL has conceptualized and implemented many first-ever programs to address unique challenges, and itself acts much like a startup, serving as the entrepreneur behind the entrepreneurs and an innovator behind the innovators,” he said.

Rubin has pushed to connect St. Louis with dynamic innovation hubs worldwide, starting with Israel in 2014, with the aim of enriching St. Louis with high-growth companies, technology and talent from overseas that bring competitive advantage to St. Louis. The nonprofit’s work has won accolades from the Brookings Institution, Harvard Business School and the Organization of American States.

As a leader, Rubin said he is committed to an ambitious vision, adaptability and comfort with ambiguity and a tireless focus on community engagement and inclusivity. “Each challenge calls for a different leader; we need all kinds to address the everchanging needs in our community,” he said. “Any leader dealing with innovation and systems change must be highly adaptable.”

In addition, he relies on collaboration to ignite change. “I work to help ignite innovative thinking and collaboration among scientists, entrepreneurs, investors, business leaders and philanthropists to take on opportunities for high-impact change,” said Rubin. “I hope this superpower allows me to inspire others to see what’s possible for the future of our region.”

For his powerful impact to the St. Louis community, Rubin has been named a titan.

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Did you know?

I don’t know if it has the makings of the next Marvel movie, but I suppose my superpower could be called “The Catalyst” —and I hope it is not a secret.

I work to help ignite innovative thinking and collaboration among scientists, entrepreneurs, investors, business leaders and philanthropists to take on opportunities for high-impact change. I hope this “superpower” allows me to inspire others to see what’s possible for the future of our region.

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