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UMKC Innovation Center
UMKC Innovation Center
Innovation Led enterprises

Filling the Gaps for Innovation-Led Entrepreneurship [Progress Report]

filling the gaps for innovation led enterprises

In the world of entrepreneurship, innovation-led businesses are some of the sexiest (no offense to the other 3 types of businesses, of course). It’s cool to work in tech, cities around the world are scrambling to be the next big tech hub (Kansas City is up there) and entrepreneurs are hopeful their business will become the “Uber of” this or the “Airbnb of” that.

So what really is an innovation-led company?

Innovation-led enterprises are businesses in which research and development brings forth an innovative product or process. The innovation typically involves intellectual property that contributes to a strong competitive advantage in the marketplace and serves as a foundation for a high rate of growth and the potential for a very large market.

Often (but not exclusively) formed around life sciences or technology innovations, these enterprises can require significant funding and specialized facilities. Owners are willing to give away equity to investors to secure the financial resources they need to grow. These businesses may cluster around research institutes and universities as technology is transferred from research labs into the marketplace.

How can we better serve innovation-led companies?

Recognizing their economic power and their entrepreneurial struggle, two years ago KCSourceLink Resource Partners gathered to discuss the fast-paced journey of the innovation-led company, identify the resources that are available and develop a plan to help fill gaps for Kansas City’s small business entrepreneurs.

What was working well in 2014?

KCSourceLink Resource Partners discovered that KC innovation-led businesses have rich access to:

  • Connector events like 1 Million Cups and Maker Faire

  • Access to mentors through a variety of programs

  • New workshops on pitching for investment

  • Improved media coverage from local and national news sources

That’s all good news. But Resource Partners who work closely with innovation-led enterprises also realized that entrepreneurs have limited access to:

  • There are a lot of meetups and events, but the Innovation-Led community has not coalesced around one calendaring system

  • There is a lack of connections with Main Street businesses to allow adoption of new technology and provide access to new customers for Innovation-Led companies

  • Debt financing is limited for startups who don’t have the collateral for a bank loan

  • High-speed Internet has arrived for residences, but there is a need for low-cost business services

  • It is hard to find information on intellectual property protection

  • There is more support needed for entrepreneurial curriculum in K-12 schools so that graduates are prepared to create or work at early-stage companies

  • It is hard to find programming and other software development support

Find the opportunities, fill the gaps.

And so, together, we designed an action plan, formed work groups and began to fill the gaps for innovation-led companies to increase access to vital services, education, training and capital.

Suggested Action Steps in 2014:

 Accomplishments since 2014:
Convene an ad hoc task force to explore making the KCSourceLink calendar more accessible.
A calendar synchronization meeting was held to coordinate calendars through first quarter 2016. KCSourceLink calendar can be sorted for Innovation-Led events and is mobile ready.
Better prepare companies for funding: engage with them early to work with them to prepare for funding. Also raise awareness of debt financing, especially existing microloan programs. KCSourceLink released We Create: Capital in June 2015, an assessment and action plan to help improve access to equity for these high-growth entrepreneurs. And KCSourceLink released an update in June of this year.
Make entrepreneurship opportunities in Kansas City more visible to high school students with an emphasis in connecting students to mentors and programs. Great programs are up and running, including: Blue Valley Center for Advanced Professional StudiesNorthland CAPsKC STEM Alliance, and Your Piece of the Pie.
Conduct more coding camps to fill the programming talent gap.
There are more and more great classes out there, including:Kansas City Women in Technology, Chute by KC Tech Council, andLaunch Code KC.
Bring in people with global influence to speaker series. There are a handful of great examples, including TechWeek featuring Jim McKelvey, Square; Anand Sanwal, CB Insights; and Bob Rogers, Intel Corp among others.
Create better connections between Main Street and Innovation-Led companies: e.g. help Innovation-led companies use Main Street entrepreneurs for market research/focus groups. Progress needed.



What’s next?

We still have work to do fill the gaps for innovation-led companies. Here’s where the KCSourceLink network is focusing our efforts.

  • Increase collisions among and between different groups: entrepreneurs, startups, corporate innovation groups, entrepreneurial support organizations, universities, etc.

  • Discover and implement best practices from national and international communities that are doing it well.

  • Work with youth, high school and college students, organizations and schools to help education on “out of the box” opportunities: skills development, professional development, hot jobs, entrepreneurism, etc.

  • Increase marketing efforts and connections for resources available (to include those not in the network, clients already involved and partners)

Find help for your innovation-led company.

Did you know you can filter our entire website by your type of enterprise? True. Just select your entrepreneurial type using the bar below or head over here to find events, tips, blog posts and inspiration specifically for innovation-led businesses.

How can we help you?

Our team helps grow entrepreneurship in Kansas City every day.

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