UMKC Innovation Center partners with the university and the community to spark and sustain entrepreneurial efforts within our region and across the country.

KCSourceLink connects KC entrepreneurs to the right resource at the right time.

MOSourceLink connects Missouri entrepreneurs to the right resource at the right time.

Whiteboard2Boardroom connects entrepreneurs and businesses to technologies available for licensing.

Digital Sandbox KC provides early-stage proof-of-concept support for digital products.

Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Center provides technical assistance to startup and existing businesses.

ScaleUP! Kansas City helps businesses with revenues around $200K scale toward their first $1 million.

Missouri Procurement Technical Assistance Centers helps local businesses obtain government contracts.

KCInvestED helps investors learn more about investing in KC startups.

SourceLink® helps communities nationwide build vibrant and vital entrepreneurial ecosystems.
UMKC Innovation Center
UMKC Innovation Center
We Create Corporate Engagement

Get Involved: How Corporate Engagement Benefits KC's Big and Small Businesses


Kansas City has a vibrant business community and boasts an engaged and active startup culture. But for both of these groups—and the city as a whole—to reach their potential, we all have to work together.

Corporate engagement helps businesses of all sizes grow and diversify. Here’s what corporations and entrepreneurs have to gain by working together, what these relationships can look like and how anyone can get started ASAP.

Two Hints: If you’re an established business or corporation, check out the CEO-to-CEO Challenge and take the pledge. If you’re a small business who’s ready to work with larger businesses, get listed (for free) on buykc.org.

How entrepreneurs benefit from partnering with corporations

For startups, pairing with established corporations can accelerate timelines and open new doors. For growing businesses, this can mean:

· new revenues and independence from external capital
· success stories for future sales
· scalable customer base
· internalization without risk
· attractive retail channels
· access to proprietary assets
· market knowledge and mentoring

Gaining insight from industry leaders who’ve been there, done that can be invaluable. These relationships can also unlock new logistical and financial avenues. Entrepreneurs can get access to internal technologies to use as platforms or to build new licensing models. This alone can provide lift to a startup and be a game changer when it comes to market disruption. After all, a healthy entrepreneur ecosystem requires a certain level of corporate engagement.

Take the CEO to CEO Challenge

Pledge to increase supplier diversity in your business and join the Kansas City companies that have already taken the CEO to CEO Challenge.

How corporations benefit from working with startups

For large companies, being active in KC’s lively entrepreneurial community is more than a good look. It’s good for the bottom line, too.

When established businesses engage with entrepreneurs, they can:

· gain external innovation and disruption
· find more innovative suppliers
· enhance their customer focus
· cultivate a culture that’s more entrepreneurial and agile
· glean insight into market developments
· create new lines of business and revenue streams

For example, look at the benefits of building a more varied and diverse supplier base of local businesses. Diverse vendors can help businesses better understand and adapt to evolving customer needs. And when you buy local, you reinvest in our city, our communities and our people.

Partnering with minority business enterprises can create customer loyalty. What does this matter? The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that minority purchasing power reached $2 trillion in 2015; they say it’s set to increase to $3 trillion by 2030. Tapping into that audience will be key for businesses that hope to grow. Supplier diversity isn’t easy, and it’s important to know how to boost small businesses without tokenizing them.

Twelve companies have already taken the pledge to buy from diverse vendors. Learn more about the CEO-to-CEO Challenge and help lead Kansas City in becoming the most inclusive and most entrepreneurial city in America.

How Kansas City benefits from corporate engagement

When entrepreneurs are supported, KC wins. Just look at the numbers:

· Startups create 60% of the net new jobs in Kansas City.
· From 2016-2020, these new positions accounted for more than 72,500 jobs.

Young firms also bring talent into our community and spur innovation—two invaluable resources that help corporations stay at the top of the pack. These relationships can help established businesses build sustainable growth by working with startups to harness technology and accelerate markets. This shot of new energy can foster internal innovation and attract talent, too.

But the benefits aren’t just one-way. Working with local corporations helps entrepreneurs gain new customers, which is mission critical when your business is working to recover from the pandemic and build future resiliency. It also helps increase access industry knowledge, open new markets and contribute to KC’s innovation pipeline.

Kansas City has a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem. But for our community to become America’s most entrepreneurial—and most entrepreneurially inclusive—city, we need unprecedented partnerships between investors, regional entrepreneurs, businesses, lenders, nonprofits, educators, public officials and residents.

What corporate engagement looks like in KC

Engagement between corporations and entrepreneurs isn’t one size fits all. Your business can create a plan that meets your objectives. Whether you’re looking to exchange research and development, diversify your supply chain or trade investments, there are strategic plans and specific activities that can meet your needs.

Engagements between corporations and startups can include:

· Shared workspace
· Events, like conferences or hackathons
· Support services, like business consulting or supplier access
· Investments ranging from microcredit to private equity

Learn more about what types of engagement are a good match for your objectives. Our We Create Corporate Engagement Report details the who, what and how of identifying and building the partnerships that are right for you.

How to get started

Building your business and enhancing Kansas City’s entrepreneurial ecosystem might sound daunting. But you can get moving down the path to successful corporate engagement with these easy steps:

Join the CEO-to-CEO Challenge. This program from Connectus Worldwide, KC Rising and KCSourceLink is designed to strengthen the corporate connections that make our community strong. Companies and CEOs who accept the challenge pledge to meet eight advocacy and supplier diversity goals.

Make yourself visible to other businesses and corporations by adding your business to BuyKC.org. And make sure to check the B2B box to note that you’re ready to be a vendor and supplier to other businesses.

Get detailed insight into why corporate engagement is important, how it works and how it pays off. Download our We Create Corporate Engagement Report.

Be a resource to help build resiliency and a stronger, more connected entrepreneurship ecosystem. Share the KCSourceLink℠ Resource Rail™ Ecosystem Map with startups and businesses in your network.

Contact KCSourceLink at 816-235-6500 or info@kcsourcelink.com to learn more.

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