Sam Fiorello is the President and CEO of the Cortex Innovation Community. Home to over 400 companies and support organizations that employ more than 6,000 people, Cortex is an innovation community strategically built around the idea that working together is the only way to tackle big problems. To help address the grand problems, Cortex serves as a catalyst for innovation that brings together big-thinking problem solvers with state-of-the-art resources, facilities, and innovative programming to inspire and drive collaboration.
Mr. Fiorello’s areas of focus for Cortex includes a greater emphasis on equality, diversity, and inclusion, job creation, and further investments in our community. The Cortex Innovation Community has been cited by the Brookings Institution and the Global Institute of Innovation Districts as a “best practice among urban innovation districts.”
Before joining Cortex, Sam spent over two decades at the Donald Danforth Plant and Science Center, where he served as Chief Operating Officer and Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance. His involvement in the Danforth Center started while at Monsanto when he was tasked with helping to formulate the plan that would eventually lead to the establishment of the Center. Under his leadership, the Danforth Plant Science Center grew to become the world’s largest independent research institute focused on plant science.
Since 2008 Sam also served as the President of the Bio Research & Development Growth Park (BRDG), the Danforth Center’s affiliated research park focused on ag-tech companies from start-up to growth phase to divisions of large multinationals. During this period Sam also founded the Ag Innovation Showcase, an annual ag-tech innovation conference that became an industry gold standard.
Before moving to the Danforth Center, Sam worked at Monsanto Company. While at Monsanto, Sam worked on international public-private partnerships in places like Brazil, India, Indonesia, and other parts of Southeast Asia. His success in creating public-private partnerships helped develop and hone skills that would be invaluable for his later work at the Danforth Center, BRDG Park, and now at Cortex.
Sam was born in Madison, Wisconsin, and is a first-generation Italian American. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Business from the University of Wisconsin and a master’s degree in public administration from the Lyndon B Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas.
Sam and his wife Rebecca have three children, Graham, Max and Audrey, and dog named Daisy.