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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: 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: January 23, 2017

Open to all Artist INC Alumni in Kansas City! Only alumni of the Creative Capital Professional Development Weekend or Artist INC sessions held in Kansas City between 2007 and 2016 are eligible to apply.

An extension of the Artist INC Live experience, in Artist INC Advance artists and their peers work together to use the skills and concepts introduced in Artist INC Live and apply them systematically to a specific project directly related to a goal or goals each artist has chosen to pursue.

Over the course of eight weeks (8 class sessions + Final Presentation night), artists will focus on specific skills and apply them to their project. The process will empower artists to take their projects to completion by creating action plans for developing, marketing, budgeting, financing and communicating the message of their projects.  Through a combination of innovative large group exercises, expert instruction and guidance, peer critiques and participation in an actual selection panel, artists will be part of a catalyzing experience furthering both their business skills and their art. The seminar culminates with artists presenting their projects at a community event and project grants ($1,000 each) awarded to three successful proposals/presentations.

Click here for more information and application information.

Application Deadline: January 27, 2017

Presented by Serial Box ( and There There Now (, proposals are currently being accepted for immediate screenings in the Serial Box space. Existing videos can be submitted by links or by email to

Videos are rear projected onto the plate-glass window in Columbia Missouri at night, glowing and accessible to viewers and passersby screened on intermittent nights, generally one video is screened on a loop for the whole night. When appropriate, an opening reception/screening is also staged, often of multiple videos in festival format.

For more information, visit the website here.

Application Deadline: Next Cohort begins January 28, 2017

Entrepreneurship Scholars (E-Scholars) is an intensive, early-stage venture development program offered by the Regnier Institute for community members and UMKC students. The academically-based program provides entrepreneurs with knowledge, support, and resources to launch scalable and sustainable ventures. New cohorts start each January and September and progress through a series of 14 workshops (held Saturdays, from 9:30 am - 3:30 pm), over the course of two semesters.

E-Scholars have access to:
a series of subsidized workshops thanks to generous contributions by sponsors
a state-of-the-art facility
pro-bono attorneys and legal services
networking events with alumni, mentors and faculty
preparation for large-scale competitions with monetary prizes
the largest network of mentors in Kansas City consisting of industry experts in: Marketing, Advertising, Finance, Accounting, Brainstorming, HR and management

Many E-Scholars alumni have gone on to launch successful ventures! 60+ are generating revenues, 70+ have employees and/or contractors beyond the founder(s), and 20+ have secured outside funding, among other countless successes!

Candidates must be available to actively participate in all workshops, activities and programs. Ideal candidates are driven, self-motivated and passionate about creating something new. E-Scholars is ideal for individuals who want to accelerate new ventures, develop new products or services, commercialize inventions, AND innovate within existing businesses.

Community Members: Ventures pay a one-time fee of $500 (full cost is approx. $6,000 - each participant is automatically awarded a scholarship through the support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the Bloch Family Foundation, the Regnier Family Foundation and other generous partners!)

UMKC Students: 
The one-time $500 fee is waived for UMKC Students who complete the E-Scholars Program for academic credit and enjoy a hands-on learning experience. Undergraduates can earn credit for ENT 327: Creating the New Venture, and ENT 332: Managing the New Venture). Graduate students can earn credit for ENT 5527: Creating the New Venture and ENT 5532: Managing the New Venture.

For more information, apply here today!

Response Deadline: January 31, 2017 at 2:00pm CST

Invitation to Bid No. 76-16 Mobile, On-Call Phlebotomy Services

--------------------- AND ---------------------

Response Deadline: February 21, 2017 at 2:00pm CST

Invitation to Bid No. 83-16 Food Service Management DOC

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. 

Nomination Deadline: February 1, 2017

Each year the Paola Chamber gives the Dale Mitchell Service Award, Spirit Award, and Business of the Year Award at the Annual Dinner. It will be on February 27, 2017, at Town Square and feature a speaker, decorated tables and sponsorship opportunities. Nominations will close on February 1, 2017. Please free free to nominate one or more names for the awards with the attached Award Nomination Form.

Application Deadline: February 6, 2017

Charlotte Street’s pilot StartUp Residency program aims to foster the development of an up-and-coming, innovative startup such as an artist-run collaborative, business, or organization. This pilot program builds upon Charlotte Street’s 20-year history of providing support and catalytic opportunities for Kansas City-based arts initiatives, entrepreneurs, and collaborative groups in their earliest stages of development.

—12 months of rent-free storefront residency space in downtown Kansas City, MO
— Artist Inc or Artist Inc II professional development training opportunity
— Mentoring, networking & cross-marketing opportunities with CSF

 Organization or business less than three years old, with an established business plan or demonstrated proof of concept
 Group or business defined as an artist-run or artist-centric organization with the ability to define and demonstrate artistic component(s) of the work, mission, or initiative of the organization
 A startup can be a for-profit, not-for-profit, or hybrid business model

Appropriate applicants could be: publications or critical feedback platforms, art spaces or performance venues, For-Cause Arts entrepreneurships, collaboratives or collectives with associated programming, (can be visual, performative arts, social practice, or multidisciplinary approaches to “artist”-centric).

FEBRUARY 6 (MIDNIGHT) — Deadline for applications
FEBRUARY 27 — Finalist interviews / Jury decisions made
MARCH 6 — Residency begins / Space accessible

APPLICATION PROCESS: Applicants should submit the following to with the subject line: STARTUP.

Applications should include:
 StartUp Residency Application Form
 Bio and CV of lead Artist and Primary Collaborators
 Organizational Budget for 2017
 Demonstration of Artistic Merit :  images, video, or sound clips. No more than 10 images, no more than 5 links to video or sound clips. Images should be compiled in a single PDF with short captions.

Questions? Please email Amy Kligman at Please see PDFs (below) for additional information and application instructions:
StartUp Residency PR Announcement
StartUp Residency Open Call
StartUp Residency Application

Application Deadline: February 17, 2017

Honors area for-profit companies that set the gold standard for financial performance, innovation and community involvement. Companies that are honored 3 times go into the Hall of Champions and are mentioned at the program and in supplement every year.

Nominations must be accepted by January 2017. An event honoring the award winners will be held in May 2017.

- Headquartered in Kansas City metropolitan area (Jackson, Cass, Clay, Ray and Platte counties in Missouri, and Johnson, Wyandotte and Leavenworth counties in Kansas.
- In business for a minimum of three years. Gross revenue of at least $3 million annually.

Pro-Tip: Leaders in innovation in your industry. Giving back to the community.
Application Deadline: April 24, 2017

This award is given to financial professionals in the KC region for outstanding performance in their roles as corporate stewards.

Nominations must be accepted by March 2017. An event honoring the award winner will be held in June 2017.

- Nominees must be chief financial officers or hold equivalent positions in the counties of
Jackson, Cass, Clay, Ray or Platte in Missouri; or Johnson, Wyandotte or Leavenworth in Kansas.
- Application can be filled out by CEO or CFO.

Pro-Tip: Application looks great, stands out, has been proof-read, follows all directions. Answer how you have impacted company and community (board membership in particular). Encourage your humble CFOs to go through the process as it is a great way to highlight the company. If the CFO is doing well, the company is doing well. No surprise nominations – tell them you nominated them!
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 19, 2017

Commends up-and-coming leaders in Kansas City’s business and civic spheres. The goal of the Next Gen Leaders award is to have a group of up and coming leaders that gathers regularly. We are looking for those who will be engaged.

Nominations must be accepted by April 2017. Applications will be accepted from May - June 2017. An event honoring the award winner will be held in July 2017.

- Nominee must have direct reports and/or P&L responsibility.
- Nominees must live and work in the Kansas City metropolitan area (Jackson, Cass, Clay, Ray, Platte counties in Missouri; and Johnson, Wyandotte, Leavenworth counties.

Pro-Tip: Application needs to look great, stand out, have been proof-read, follow all directions. Show that you are giving back to community and making an impact. Judges are looking for those who have already begun to leave their mark on the KC community. They are not looking for someone who just wants to put an award on their Linkedin profile. This is not a ‘40 under 40’ award. The age range among 2016 honorees ranged from 28-48. Only one nomination is needed per person. Judging is not based upon number of nominations and will not help. Requires a reference letter from current CEO (or C-Suite executive with whom you currently work). Better to have one top person from company nominated rather than several (strange to have 3 letters of recommendation from same CEO, for example).
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 30, 2017
(Excerpt taken from Sprint Accelerator website - view full page here)

The Sprint Accelerator is joining with other corporations for the next evolution of our accelerator program. This model allows for increased collaboration among corporations and startups. Selecting startup companies that align with each corporation’s strategic goals gives the corporations access to innovative products and services. And each startup selected for the program, will receive unprecedented resources from these corporate sponsors.

Applications are now open here.

Some highlights of the 2017 Corporate Accelerator program include:
- 90-day program, pre-program planning sessions occurring in the 30 days prior
- Being on-site for the entire program is not required. However, at scheduled times, startups will be required to be onsite in Kansas City.
- State-of-the-art workspace facilities provided at Sprint Accelerator in Kansas City’s Crossroads Arts District
- Targeted, strategic meetings with the corporate sponsor teams to discuss business development, pilots and potential sponsorships
- Mentors from the Corporate Sponsors and their respective networks and business sponsors
- Mentors from the investor, business development and entrepreneurial communities
- Business building sessions around product, brand, and marketing
- Invite-only Demo Day

2017 Corporate Sponsors:

Sprint and Pinsight Media+
Sprint is a communications services company that creates more and better ways to connect its customers to the things they care about most. Pinsight Media+ a wholly owned subsidiary of Sprint is combining first-party data with mobile web and app data to uncover users’ actual habits and brand affinities to provide targeted ad campaigns.
-     Sprint & Pinsight Media+ are looking for startups focused on digital transformation, advertising technology and omni-channel services.
Dairy Farmers of America

Dairy Farmers of America – Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) is a national dairy marketing cooperative that serves and is owned by more than 14,000 members on more than 8,000 farms in 48 states. DFA is committed to providing value to its farmer-owners through marketing members’ milk, providing services and resources on the farm and investing in plants and brands such as Borden® CheesePlugrá® Butter, and Kemps® that connect family farms to family tables.
-    DFA is looking for startups in AgTech with applications related to any portion of the dairy value chain including, but not limited to, product testing, data management, herd health and management, supply chain optimization, sustainability and traceability.

Have questions? Visit our FAQ page here.

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.
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.
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.

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