UMKC Innovation Center Reveals 2020 Entrepreneurship Impact in Center-Wide Report

UMKC Innovation Center Reveals 2020 Entrepreneurship Impact in Center-Wide Report

Together—entrepreneurs, service providers, investors, community and corporate leaders—we are empowering our communities, and that was never more apparent than in 2020 as the many organizations within and outside the UMKC Innovation Center united to create opportunities to guide and consult our entrepreneurs when they needed help the most.

And those efforts to help entrepreneurs meet challenges head on with a strategy, network, coaching, knowledge and other support are captured in the UMKC Innovation Center’s first ever annual report and new website.

“These entrepreneurs and leaders are our clients, our inspiration and our hope,” says Maria Meyers, executive director at the UMKC Innovation Center. “2020 presented many obstacles, but where there are problems, there are also entrepreneurs with solutions.”

The 2020 impact report tells the story of entrepreneurs who worked to start and grow business during the pandemic and describes the entrepreneurial outreach, connections, counseling and collaborations of the four pillars of the UMKC Innovation Center, including:

  • Technology Venture Studio, which provides a pipeline for innovation and technology commercialization through such recognized initiatives as Whiteboard2Boardroom, Digital Sandbox KC and KCInvestED.
  • Entrepreneurial Education, which delivers a continuum of business-building education, from concept through maturity through the courses and coaching of the Missouri Small Business Development Center and Missouri Procurement Technical Assistance Center.
  • Regional Ecosystem Development, which connects the entrepreneurship community to resources through KCSourceLink and MOSourceLink as it works collaboratively across the region to develop a stronger entrepreneurship ecosystem.
  • Global Expansion, which, through SourceLink, provides tools and consulting to build entrepreneurship communities and fuel entrepreneurship-led economic development nationwide.

Inside the interactive annual report, you’ll read about the amazing feats of entrepreneurs across the Kansas City metro and the state of Missouri who were among the 7,000 who reached out to the center for help in 2020. Because of that help, nearly 500 entrepreneurs reported starting new businesses across the metro and state.

“Entrepreneurs rise to challenges; where someone else might see a roadblock, an entrepreneur sees opportunity,” says Jenny Miller, senior director of the center’s Regional Ecosystem Development. “This can be seen in the more than 13,000 interactions with the entrepreneur community last year, many of those involving questions about starting new businesses.”

But it’s not just about starting new businesses, but also about expanding existing businesses and opportunities. Nearly 500 jobs were created and $245 million in revenue was generated as a result of the classes and comprehensive coaching of Missouri SBDC and Missouri PTAC. Over $165 million was raised in follow-on funding by companies in the center’s Technology Venture Studio, which invested 60% of its project grants to companies led by founders of color. Throughout the state, 80% of jobs in Missouri are created by first-time employers with fewer than 20 employees.

“Our programs lead to real-world results that have a demonstrable positive impact,” says Carmen DeHart, senior director of Entrepreneurial Education. “Sometimes, entrepreneurs just need a hand in reaching the next level, and our programs at the UMKC Innovation Center provide that foundation so they can create jobs and leverage opportunities to bolster our communities.”

And the center’s reach extends far beyond the metro and the state via its 4,500 national resource partners. In fact, as part of the center’s Global Expansion, SourceLink has helped build stronger entrepreneurship ecosystems in 58 communities nationwide.

“The impact of the UMKC Innovation Center extends well beyond Kansas City,” says Rob Williams, senior director of the center’s Global Expansion. “Not many know that the ecosystem-building innovations that are created here we take to a national stage and replicate across the country. We are excited to be able to share this story through this new interactive report.”

In addition to the report, explore the new UMKC Innovation Center website, which gives an overview of all of the center’s programs and how they help entrepreneurs.

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