For over a decade, UM-StL has been a source of quiet innovation, with strong, diverse, expanding programs in areas that include the plant sciences, neurodynamics, and observational astronomy, along with growing connections to the community in areas like nano-characterization outreach and science education. As a corporate researcher doing nano-microscopy for Monsanto, MEMC, McDonnell-Douglas, and Washington U. in the late 1980's, UM-StL's mandate as a land-grant University was a natural fit for my regional ties. With help from a regional proposal initially submitted to NSF through WU, I was able help UM-StL nail down funds for a building designed for atomic resolution imaging a decade ago, but it was largely businesses in the region (including significantly Monsanto, MEMC, and Boeing) who made it possible to equip the building with advanced tools for both research and education. Since that time we've managed to serve the state with the only instrument capable of resolving individual columns of atoms in solids, in a tradition of public service inspired by my dad's long blue-collar career in police work (including two decades as chief in a small town and four years as county sheriff) on the east side of the river.
The growing relevance of shared nano-characterization core-facilities & expertise to groups involved in health care, sustainability, CSI, and development of products from electronics and pharmaceuticals to cement, is no longer possible to ignore. This, coupled with the greater willingness of folks in tight times to network as state governments confront the paradigm-changes necessary for dealing with competition in the national and global economy*, has allowed us to assemble a state-wide nano-alliance (MONA) with help from the state-appointed council of about a dozen university and institute research officers (RAM) who've been meeting monthly for over a year. The strategy is to develop complementary resources across the state, tied in closely to the needs of employers. Shared characterization technologies are particularly promising in this regard, because the need for them is expanding, and because an ethics of analytical support can facilitate seamless collaboration between companies developing products, and universities and institutes developing and applying characterization methods. This also will continue to create excellent opportunities for on-the-job training, and employer-targeted education. Universities across the region (including UM-StL) are also putting more energy into tech-transfer i.e. the in-house development of commercially-relevant results.
You'll find more specifics (as well as visuals) related to these things at the weblinks below.
* As did manufacturing companies some years ago.