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Competitions and Awards

missouri-entrepreneur-of-the-yearMake your company a household name and get well deserved recognition by competing for and winning locally and nationally sponsored awards.

Check the list below for Kansas City's most prominent business competitions that are currently taking nominations.

If you'd like to list a competition or award, please contact

Application Deadline: Initial review of applications will begin February 24, 2017 and continue until all funds have been awarded.


Kansas State University has partnered with the Kansas Department of Commerce and KS State Bank to offer entrepreneurs across the state of Kansas the ability to access funding to help develop new ideas or grow Kansas-based goods-producing businesses. This grant program seeks to support the development of new business opportunities across the state that have the potential to generate revenue through product sales and create jobs in the near term. Grant awards from $5,000 up to $15,000 will be made on a case by case basis and will be judged on the strength of the application by a K-State advisory panel and approved by the Kansas Department of Commerce.

Program Guidelines and Requirements: Applications are open to all Kansas-based individuals or companies, including but not limited to the following stages of development: Entrepreneurial concepts or ideas, Proof of concept development, Start‐ups (not limited to first stage), and/or Existing company growth opportunities.

The application should focus on how the funding will be utilized to move the project or business forward to achieving the next step in its growth process. This may include business planning, engineering support, prototyping, market assessments, marketing materials or other activities that would assist in adding value to the business. Grants will not be awarded to cover wages, bonuses, capital equipment purchases (in excess of $5,000), building purchases or other types of business relocation expenses.

Awardees will be required to report to K-State for a period of up to 18 months on the use of the funds and the impact it had on the venture. These reporting requirements may include: Additional capital raised by company, Sales growth and projections, and/or Additional number of jobs created.

Grant Awards: Grant awardees will typically be notified within 4 weeks of application if the application is approved or denied. If approved, a simply contractual award will be made and the entrepreneur will be responsible for submitting a plan of action and timeline for use of funding. Payment of award will be made in full upon execution of grant contract. All funding must be spent by awardee no later than August 31st, 2017. Entrepreneurs will be responsible for providing documentation of measureable outcomes as a result of the grant funding.

Application Instructions: All interested parties can apply for the JumpStart Kansas grant program by completing the online application form found here: K-State JumpStart Application.
Application Deadline: McCarthy Mortenson is preparing the bid now - more information available at contact below

McCarthy Mortenson is preparing to bid WC# 127 for the Stone, Ceramic and Terrazzo Flooring scope of work for the National Bio and Agro-Defense (NBAF) Project in Manhattan, KS. Interested bidders should contact Shelby Speirer by email or by phone (815) 830-7901 for more information, and to start the registration and prequalification process to submit a proposal on this scope of work.
Application Deadline: Once Funds Become Exhausted (Apply NOW!)

Applications are now open for grants of up to $5,000 through the new KC Global Cities Initiative (GCI) Micro-grant program. Grants must be spent on improving the applicant’s ability to access world markets. Marketing production for international markets, translation services, and market research are just three examples of many eligible expenses.
The micro-grant program is made possible thanks to a grant from JPMorgan Chase, which, along with the Brookings Institute, funds the Global Cities Initiative and its network of 28 metropolitan areas. Kansas City’s GCI Steering Committee released the area’s first regional export plan and implemented the plan’s export concierge concept, centered at the KC Chamber’s World Trade Center.
“This is an important part of the World Trade Center’s mission to increase Greater Kansas City’s share of the international pie by supporting our local businesses in exporting,” says Joe Reardon, President and CEO of the KC Chamber. “With 95 percent of the world’s consumers living outside the U.S., the opportunities are there. Our thanks to JPMorgan Chase for their generosity and support.”
Interested companies must have fewer than 500 employees and be located in the Kansas City Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). That includes Jackson, Clay, Cass, Platte, Bates, Lafayette, Ray, Caldwell, and Clinton counties in Missouri, and Leavenworth, Wyandotte, Johnson, Miami, and Linn counties in Kansas.
Information and applications are at

Application Deadline: TBA (For more info, visit LaunchKC)

"LaunchKC is a series of initiatives by the City of Kansas City, Missouri, in partnership with local businesses, to develop startup companies in downtown Kansas City... The LaunchKC initiative is designed to provide policy and marketing guidance for a sector specific recruitment and expansion initiative that will qualitatively change the perception of Kansas City’s capabilities for emerging innovation technology companies, and for public sector incentives.  Most of the past and current innovation technology activity has had an “epicenter” in the Crossroads area of downtown Kansas City, Missouri.  The function of LaunchKC is to focus the attention of new and emerging firms to Kansas City on the Crossroads area (and the greater downtown) as a specific area that currently provides exceptional data transmission capabilities, a youth-oriented quality of life, and a reputation for creativity." (Taken from the EDC of KC website)

Previous winners include Big Bang, ConsultUS, FEWDM, Mobility Designed, Mycroft AI, Super Dispatch, Blooom, KC Drone Company, PopBookings, and VideoFizz.

What do you win? Eight winners will receive $50,000 grants - and one winner will receive a grant awardof $100,000. If you're interested in learning more about LaunchKC, including the various other stellar benefits awarded to the winners, check out the LaunchKC 2017 Kickoff Celebration set for February 1, from 5pm - 7pm.

Application Deadline: April 28, 2017 at 5:00PM
Request for Quotation No. 102 Range Golf Balls

Application Deadline: May 9, 2017 at 2:00PM
Invitation to Bid No. 21-17 Resale Fishing Supplies

Application Deadline: May 16, 2017 at 2:00PM

Invitation to Bid No. 19-17 Horse Stall Cleaning

Application Deadline: May 23, 2017 at 2:00PM
Invitation to Bid No. 22-17 Picnic Tables

Application Deadline: June 6, 2017 at 2:00PM
Invitation to Bid No. 23-17 Liquid Asphalt

To obtain a copy of the bid documents, visit our website at .  Select “How Do I…”; “Bidding Opportunities”; “Bid Opportunities”; “View Current Bid Opportunities”.  Scroll down to the Invitation to Bid Number and click on the Invitation to Bid Number.  If you need additional assistance please call 816-881-3267.

Please apply as a New Vendor while visiting our website to receive notifications of upcoming solicitations.

Application Deadline: May 7, 2017

Young Enterprise initiative (YEi) Start in France is an accelerator aimed to provide United States entrepreneurs with the opportunity to develop their business in France and in other European markets since 2005.

Companies that are successfully selected will be able to receive an intensive training in Paris and one free immersion week in France that will allow them to benefit from an extensive customized business network and connections to the best resources in Europe.

•             Early stage innovative company of any industry established in the United States, AND
•             Have less than 30 employees OR have less than $2 million in annual revenue

Key Dates
•             Application starts : March 28, 2017
•             Application deadline : May 7, 2017
•             1st Selection Round : May 22, 2017
•             2nd Selection Round (via Videoconference) : June 1, 2017
•             Announcement of Laureates : July, 2017
•             If selected, the immersion week in France : November 13-17, 2017

Please visit the program website or email to learn more.

Application Deadline (for both Lists): May 10, 2017

The Kansas City Business Journal is searching for the Top 150 Private Companies and the 50 Fastest-Growing Area Businesses, known as the Fast 50. 

The Fast 50 is open to private and public companies and will be ranked by three-year average revenue growth. The fastest-growing companies must have headquarters in the metro area.

To be considered for either List, companies must provide revenue figures for 2014, 2015 and 2016. Even companies that aren’t big enough to land on the Top Private Companies List should complete the survey to qualify for the Fast 50 List.

Click here to enter your information online (unless you have made prior contact with the Business Journal-if so, look for an emailed invitation to the survey).

Have questions about The List? Contact Andrew McKeegan at or 816-777-2213.

Application Deadline: May 12, 2017

The SBA's Office of Women's Business Ownership has announced the launch of the 2017 InnovateHER Challenge. "InnovateHER provides an opportunity for entrepreneurs throughout the U.S. to showcase products and services that have a measurable impact on the lives of women and families, have the potential for commercialization, and fill a need in the marketplace" (Read more from the SBA here).

Contestants need to develop products or services that have measurable impacts on women and families' lives, are potentially market-ready, and have identified and fulfilled a current need in today's markets.

Contestants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents at least 18 years old (at the time of submission). Contestants may also be private corporations/organizations that are incorporated/primarily located in the United States.

You can find more information as it is posted about the Challenge here, or email
Application Deadline: May 12, 2017 at 5:00pm

The Kansas Department of Agriculture is accepting applications for the 2017 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. Funds for the program are awarded to the agency by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service. The funds are in turn granted to projects and organizations that work to improve the specialty crop industry.

The purpose of the specialty crop program is to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. Specialty crops are defined by the USDA as “fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops, including floriculture.” This opportunity supports the KDA’s mission of providing an environment that enhances and encourages economic growth of the agriculture industry in Kansas.

The Agricultural Marketing Service reviews each application. Approved states receive an estimated base amount plus an amount based on the average of the most recent available value of specialty crop cash receipts and the acreage of specialty crop production in the state. In 2017 it is expected that Kansas will receive approximately $295,000.00.

For more information, please download the 2017 application from the website at

Application Deadline: May 14, 2017

Maker Faire Kansas City celebrates things people create themselves — from new technology and electronic gizmos to urban farming and “slow-made” foods to homemade clothes, quilts and sculptures. This family-friendly event demonstrates what and how people are inventing, making and creating. It brings together Makers, Crafters, Inventors, Hackers, Scientists and Artists for a faire full of fun and inspiration. Come see what others are making and be inspired to tap into your own creativity!

Apply now to join in on the "Greatest Show & Tell on Earth"!

Learn more about the application process, including tips on applying and entry information here.
Application Deadline: May 17, 2017

The Creative Capital | Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant Program supports writers whose work addresses contemporary visual art through project-based grants, ranging from 15,000 to 50,000 USD, issued directly to twenty individual authors a year. The program was founded in recognition of both the financially precarious situation of arts writers and their indispensable contribution to a vital artistic culture. The Arts Writers Grant Program supports a broad spectrum of writing on contemporary visual art, from general-audience criticism to academic scholarship. Writers who meet the program’s eligibility requirements are invited to apply in the following categories: Articles, Blogs, Books, New and Alternative Media, and Short-Form Writing. Due to legal constraints we can only fund U.S. citizens, permanent residents of the United States, and holders of O-1 visas. For guidelines and additional eligibility requirements, please visit the website.
Application Deadline: May 21, 2017

The Lean Lab's Incubator Fellowship is a three module incubator program spanning July to November 2017, the program is structured as in-person workshops in Kansas City with remote design sprints and supports in between.

The Incubator Fellowship provides the following: Understanding of the context and history of the urban education landscape in KCMO; Training and consultancies on all aspects of building a sustainable and impactful venture in education as aligned to our Due Diligence Model (outlined in the modules below); Exclusive access to mentorship from Kansas City’s top entrepreneur and education leaders; Partnership with up to 5 school beta-sites; Office space; Access to a supportive community of parents, teachers, students, school system leaders, and investors in the form of the Community Launch Group; Up to $30,000 in seed funding; Participation in the culminating Launch[ED] Day event, where each team pitches to additional Kansas City leaders, funders, and community members for additional resources to further support their initiatives

The Lean Lab Incubator Fellowship is a selective and application-based program seeking bold entrepreneurs building transformational innovations that address achievement gaps and inequities that persist in public education. The Incubator Fellowship is split into three rigorous modular workshops, each module focusing on product functionality, beta-testing, and iterations.
Who should apply?
  • Educators, entrepreneurs, technologists, and community leaders with early stage ideas of products, services, or new school designs that have the capacity to transform public education in Kansas City.
  • Gritty, determined people who are ready to roll up their sleeves and tackle some of our city’s toughest challenges in education. Applicants can apply alone or in teams. It is required that a founder be available for the in-person modules.
For more information, please visit The Lean Lab's Incubator Fellowship page.
Application Deadline: May 22, 2017

MANHATTAN, Kan. — The Kansas Department of Agriculture is seeking individuals to participate in an agricultural trade mission to Argentina. Tentatively, the mission will take place July 24-30, 2017. The goal of this mission is to provide an opportunity for Kansas purebred beef cattle producers and allied industry to develop relationships with livestock producers in Argentina to increase market opportunities for U.S. and Kansas beef genetics.

The primary activity during the mission will be to interact with breeders and promote the use of U.S. beef genetics while attending Exposición Rural (Palermo), the major Argentinian livestock show. Kansas ranchers and related agribusinesses specializing in export of Angus and Hereford genetics are invited to participate.

This trade mission is funded in part by the U.S. Livestock Genetics Export, Inc. Selected participants will be eligible for travel stipends for airfare depending upon number of applicants and fund availability. Participants will be responsible for the cost of hotels, meals and other incidental expenses.

KDA strives to encourage and enhance economic growth of the agriculture industry and the Kansas economy by exploring and expanding both domestic and international marketing opportunities.

Individuals interested in participating in the trade mission should complete the application forms available on the KDA website at The deadline for submitting applications for consideration is Monday, May 22. For more information on the trade mission, contact Billy Brown, KDA agribusiness development coordinator, at or 785-564-6752.

Application Deadline: May 24, 2017

The River Market Regional Exhibition is unrestricted in media and subject matter, however the artworks should address in some capacity the theme of “Truth/Trust/Transcend”RMRE is open to artists in a six state region, Nebraska, Iowa, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, and Missouri; and to members of the Kansas City Artists Coalition and the African American Artist Collective.

The Artists Coalition uses CaFÉ for submissions. If you have not already, you must create a free profile and upload media. Then scroll down in “CaFÉ Listings” to Kansas City Artists Coalition: River Market Regional Exhibition, click VIEW MORE INFO, read then click APPLY TO THIS CALL and follow instructions. Please pass this information on to any and all eligible applicants!

2017 Kansas City Artists Coalition’s River Market Regional Exhibition
Mallin and Jacqueline B. Charno Galleries
201 Wyandotte, Kansas City, Missouri 64105

May 24, Entry submissions due at
June 8, Notification of artists e-mailed (to the address in CaFÉ profile)
July 1, 5-7, Artwork due, 11-4 pm
July 14, Opening Reception, 6 – 8:30 pm
Sept 22, Exhibition ends
Sept 27 – 30, Pick up of hand delivered works. 11-4pm
Sept 26 – 30, Return of shipped work

Application Deadline: May 26, 2017

Honors the top-ranking women at for-profit businesses in the Kansas City area.

Nominations will be accepted in April 2017. Applications accepted in May 2017. And event honoring the award winner will be held in August 2017.

- Must be an entrepreneur, a top-ranking corporate woman in the Kansas City region, or a partner leading a practice group or serving on an executive committee.
- Engaged in for-profit business.
- Living and working in the Kansas City metropolitan area (Ray, Cass, Clay, Jackson and Platte counties in Missouri; and Johnson, Leavenworth and Wyandotte counties in Kansas).
- If an entrepreneur, business must have been in operation for a minimum of three years.
- If a corporate executive, must have been in current or similar level of position for a minimum of three years.
- If a partner, must have been a partner for at least three years with a minimum of one-year experience leading a practice group or serving on an executive committee.
- Have not previously been honored as part of the Women Who Mean Business program.

Pro-Tip: This is the biggest pool of applicants that KCBJ gets for any award. Be sure you qualify! Put your best foot forward, don’t be too humble, emphasize how you help other women as well as how you give back to business community. Be sure someone else proof reads your applications, it is formatted well, and you follow all instructions. You do not need to include a reference letter.
Application Deadline: June 2, 2017

Continuing a Kansas City tradition, Ingram’s will salute the region’s fastest-growing companies in its 32nd annual Corporate Report 100 competition, to be published in the July 2017 edition. The report will measure growth between fiscal 2013 and 2016. Public and private for-profit companies HEADQUARTERED IN KANSAS CITY’S 22-COUNTY METRO AREA WITH AT LEAST $200,000 IN SALES IN 2013 AND $1 MILLION IN SALES IN FISCAL 2016 ARE ELIGIBLE TO WIN.

For more information, visit the Ingram's Corporate Report 100 website.
Application Deadline: June 30, 2017
Application Deadline: July 7, 2017

Celebrates the companies judged by their employees as Best Places to Work. The publication gives insight on what makes these companies great from their employees’ perspectives. It also offers insight about attracting and retaining qualified employees.

Nominations will be accepted in June - July 2017. An event honoring the award winners will be held in October 2017.

- Any company in the Kansas City metropolitan area (Ray, Cass, Clay, Jackson and Platte counties in Missouri, and Johnson, Leavenworth and Wyandotte counties in Kansas) with at least 10 full-time and part-time, permanent employees who have been employed with the company at least 30 days, and work within the contest area.

Surveys will be administered and results tabulated by Quantum Workplace, a specialist in measuring workplace satisfaction. Only the finalists in each category will be published. All other participating companies will be guaranteed anonymity with regards to results and participation. For nominations done by individuals, Quantum will coordinate survey start date with each business, survey is taken by a certain percentage of employees, Quantum uses proprietary algorithm to tabulate results.

There are 10 finalists in each category and there are 3 categories (small/10-49 employees in KC market, medium/50-249 emps in KC market, large/250+ in KC market). All honorees are contacted prior to event and the top 3 in each category are announced at event. 

Pro-Tip: Your employees must think you are great because they are the ones judging you! Quantum has an FAQ on their website.
Application Deadline: September 30, 2017

Startup Open is a global competition that is open to entrepreneurs from any industry with a new business that has yet to raise any outside capital from angel investors, venture capital firms or other formal sources of seed funding.

Startup Open recognizes the most promising ventures from around the world– based on their growth potential, passion, creativity, level of idea development, and pitching skills. A diverse cast of entrepreneurial leaders will judge and select the entries to advance. The finalists will then compete for a grand prize trip to the Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC) in Istanbul, Turkey in 2018. The finalists will receive feedback from investors and experienced entrepreneurs, and participate in the GEW People's Choice online voting during Global Entrepreneurship Week November 13-19, 2017. For more information about rules and judging please see the About Page.

Preliminary registration is now open - online apps officially open May 1, 2017. Apply today!

iStart is the go-to site for entering business competitions from around the world, browsing pages of startup ideas and networking with hundreds of innovative, energized entrepreneurs. 

Find out about business competitions all over the world.

With the financial support of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), Downtown Shareholders is pleased to announce the launch of the third round of Pop-Up! Downtown KCK, a retail development initiative to enliven Downtown Kansas City, Kansas. Pop-Up! Downtown KCK matches select entrepreneurs with high-visibility, well-sited spaces at free or reduced rent, and provides an opportunity for local entrepreneurs to test a retail concept or determine whether Downtown KCK is a viable long-term location for their business.

To learn more about this program or to download a funding application, check out our website.
Application Deadline: Ongoing!

DTSKCK promotes economic development, housing, wellness, cultural, and social opportunities in downtown Kansas City, KS. Their Small Business Grant Program provides the small business owner or entrepreneur the possibility of partial “gap filling”, which their research indicates is greatly needed. One qualification: you are in, or plan to locate in, our service area: 4th to 18th; Washington to Sandusky.

Questions are encouraged! Please contact DTSKCK at (913) 371-0705 or for more information, or visit their website.
Are you interested in expanding your export activities, but are concerned about cost, or fearful about entering a new market? Both Missouri and Kansas have your back.

MO STEP=UP: Financial Assistance Opportunities for Expanded Export Activity

The MO STEP=UP program, an initiative of the Missouri International Trade and Investment Office funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration, is a grant program offering international marketing and financial assistance, designed with small business owners like you in mind. By taking part in MO STEP=UP, your company could embark on the following activities focused on growing your exports (like trade missions, Gold Key Services, marketing strategy enhancements, and access to sector-specific trade shows w/reimbursement for qualifying expenses) to the Middle East, Central and South America: Learn more here or contact the Export Experts.

KS STEP Grant Applications
The Kansas Department of Commerce is currently accepting STEP grant applications from small businesses to assist them in starting or growing their exports. The Commerce programs, which are being funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), will help non-exporters begin exporting for the first time or existing exporters expand their export levels. Commerce is administering the grant in tandem with the Kansas Department of Agriculture. Programs offered through the STEP Grant include export seminars and training courses, opportunities for participation in foreign trade shows and missions, and support for entering new markets. For the current grant year, SBA has awarded Kansas $383,000 in STEP funding. Businesses that wish to apply for support or are interested in learning more should visit

(Taken from releases by the Missouri Department of Economic Development & the Kansas Department of Agriculture)

Digital Sandbox KC brings together people, ideas and resources to build thriving companies. The program provides much needed early-stage funding to rising stars. The region's longtime leaders including private companies, government agencies and universities have united to help this new wave of entrepreneurs. It's an unprecedented metro-wide effort to help make KC America's most entrepreneurial city.


55 proof-of-concept projects funded for area startups
27 new KC-based companies created
39 companies have secured follow-on investment
$22.7M in follow-on funding
247 new jobs created, nearly $7.3M in total salaries
Digital Sandbox KC broadly seeks new innovation in information technology.  The Sandbox provides innovators with proof-of-concept resources to support early-stage commercialization processes. The Sandbox may cover expenses for project consultants, market research, legal support, equipment and other market validation, prototyping and beta testing needs.

The Digital Sandbox process requires:
  1. - Completion of the Digital Sandbox Company Profile
  2. - A meeting/pitch evaluation
  3. - A board vote
To proceed with funding requests, you'll need to download the Digital Sandbox Company Profile Word document, fill in the requested information and return it by email The final summary can be no longer than three pages. 

Please keep in mind that this summary will be viewed by those evaluating your submission; those participating in your meeting/pitch and by the board for voting purposes. Once we've received your company profile, we'll review it for completeness and then send you information regarding next steps. Submission Tip:  Thoroughly reading our Frequently Asked Questions prior to submission may improve your outcome.

Choose your entrepreneur type.

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  • iconStartup

    You're a member of the start-up group. Brand new to the entrepreneurial world, your ideas and energy will take you far. Welcome to the family.

  • iconMicroenterprise

    You're a member of the microenterprise group. Your small business is not only your dream job, but also gives you the flexibility to do things on your time.

  • iconMain Street

    You're a member of the main street group. Your entrepreneurial spirit brings people together, providing your customers with a more personalized service.

  • iconInnovation-Led

    You're a member of the innovation-led group. You make the revolutionary ideas that will break through the ceiling. Let our resources get you there.

  • iconSecond Stage

    You're a member of the second stage group. Faster than a speeding bullet, your business is taking off. We have the resources to help your growth and expansion.

  • iconEntrepreneurial Community

    You're a member of the eco-devs group. You're the support system of the economic, small business and community rooted in getting things started. Let's connect.