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

Guide: Growing Your Business  Part Eight

Business Competitions and Awards

Name recognition, free promotion and greater perceived prominence are just a few benefits of getting an honor.

Make 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

Digital Sandbox KC: (Ongoing)

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.

93 proof-of-concept projects funded for area startups
35 new KC-based companies created
53 companies have secured follow-on investment
$38.2 million in follow-on funding
More than 480 new jobs created, with more than $12 million in payroll

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 KC process requires:
- Completion of the Digital Sandbox KC Online Application
- A Meeting/Pitch Evaluation
- A Board Vote

Please keep in mind that this application will be viewed by those evaluating your submission; those participating in your meeting/pitch and by the Sandbox board for voting purposes. Once your application is received, it will be reviewed for completeness and you will be contacted with information regarding next steps. Submission Tip: Thoroughly reviewing the Frequently Asked Questions prior to submission may improve your outcome.


Thank you for your interest in the program. The E-Scholars program is open to all applicants. You don't need to be a UMKC student to apply.

Since 2011, more than 400 rising entrepreneurs from various backgrounds have completed the program. If you have an idea for a venture, Entrepreneurship Studio can help you turn that idea into a business with growth potential.
The price of the program is $1000, per venture, for the entire year and includes meals on workshop and mentor review days. For students taking for college credit, this will be billed as any typical class. Specific details and information on payments for the program can be found on the E-Scholars website.

A limited number of scholarships are available for entrepreneurs from the community.

UMKC students can get course credit for the program and payment can be made in the same way as all courses at the university. The $1000 yearly cost is waived for enrolled students seeking course credit.

We admit participants in the E-Scholars program on the basis of ventures.  We understand that some ventures include multiple founders. Please designate one founder as the primary participant to complete the application and indicate if there are additional founders in the appropriate section of the survey.  


The Pilot Research Program is a way for your district or school to engage your teachers, students, and parents in the innovation process. We’ll help you gather data and insights so you can prioritize your biggest challenges. Then, we’ll help you select and research an emerging tech-based program to find out if it works in your context

  • Receive up to $10K in grant funding to support teacher stipends and school needs.
  • Access free learning experiences focused on innovation.
  • Educator leadership opportunities & professional development.
  • Make evidence-based decisions to inform whether you should purchase or implement products at scale.

How it works

A school representative starts by completing the short Expression of Interest Form and answering some "Get To Know You" questions. Then, the LEANLAB research team conducts qualitative research through focus groups with parents, teachers, and administrators.

We’ll use those learnings to search the globe and find technology solutions that may work in your context. When a match is found, you’ll go on to co-design a research question and implement the pilot in your school.

Have you heard???? JCCC Continuing Education has funds available for businesses AND individuals who have been affected by Covid-19! These funds cover upto 100% or tuition for Continuing Education courses.

If you are a business you could qualify for up to $25,000 in employee training per calendar year if the business has been impacted by Covid-19.   

Email to see if you qualify!

$5,000 - $25,000

For-Profit Entity POC funding is available for projects to be undertaken by or on behalf of a Kansas-based, for-profit entity for the purpose of evaluating and/or commercializing unique and innovative technology that is scalable and targeted for development via entrepreneurial enterprise in Kansas. Qualifying entities may not have received in excess of $750,000 in total capital from other sources.

This POC funding is designed to help develop a project/product to the point where the entity can raise significant amounts of external capital. Typically, these awards will be used for commercial assessment and/or technology validation, such as advanced testing or prototype development.

If a funded project or the intellectual property to which it is directed results in commercial advancement satisfying specified conditions (e.g., partnering-based funding, equity financing, or sales/licensing revenues to a pre-determined level), recipients are required to repay the award according to agreed terms. If, however, such conditions are not successfully met, POC Convertible funding does not require repayment.

To be eligible, the project must:

  • Have clear technical or commercial objective with innovative technology
  • Be undertaken by a Kansas-based, for-profit entity that has not raised in excess of $750,000 total capital from other sources
  • Be reviewed by and submitted through one of the approved partners

POC funds can be used for, but not limited to, the following:

  • Technical Validation
  • Advanced Testing
  • Prototype development
  • Commercial Assessment
  • Other technology-focused activities

POC funds cannot be used for:

  • Normal salary costs of the applicant (or related persons or entities)
  • Fixed overhead costs
  • Previously incurred costs
  • Costs for securing intellectual property rights (e.g. patent costs)

Additional funds are set aside for minority owned businesses. To qualify as a minority owned business, the project must meet the above eligibility requirements and must be at least 51% owned and controlled by one or more minority individuals. For the purpose of this program minority is defined as any individual belonging to the following minority groups:

(a) “Black Americans,” which includes persons having origins in any of the Black racial groups of Africa;
(b) “Hispanic Americans,” which includes persons of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican, Central or South American, or other Spanish or Portuguese culture or origin, regardless of race;
(c) “Native American,” which includes persons who are enrolled members of a federally or State recognized Indian tribe, Alaska Natives, or Native Hawaiians;
(d) “Asian-Pacific Americans,” which includes Persons whose origins are from Japan, China, Taiwan, Korea, Burma (Myanmar), Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia (Kampuchea), Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Brunei, Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Trust Territories of the Pacific Islands (Republic of Palau), the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, Macao, Fiji, Tonga, Kirbati, Juvalu, Nauru, Federated State of Micronesia, or Hong Kong;
(e) “Subcontinent Asian Americans,” which includes persons whose origins are from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldives Islands, Nepal or Sri Lank

Application Link:


Techstars has discontinued the Kansas City region accelerator to created a greater reach nationally. However, Kansas City business are encouraged to continue to apply to one of the 50 accelerators worldwide. 

Click Here to find a Techstars Accelerator that is best suited for the needs of your business!

Missouri Small Business Development is offering a Phase 0 FAST Grant to fund up to $2500 toward a grant writer for your Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant submission.

For more information reach out to our Innovation & Technology Counselor, Ed Lahue at

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs are highly competitive programs that encourage domestic small businesses to engage in Federal Research/Research and Development (R/R&D) with the potential for commercialization. Through a competitive awards-based program, SBIR and STTR enable small businesses to explore their technological potential and provide the incentive to profit from its commercialization. 

Child Care Aware of Kansas, in partnership with Kansas Department for Children and Families, is awarding Sustainability Grants – Round 3! These grants aid in continuing operations of child care programs through the COVID-19 pandemic. All Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) licensed child care facilities that demonstrate substantial compliance with KDHE child care licensing are eligible to apply. 

To be considered “eligible”, child care facilities must maintain an active permanent KDHE license, whether remaining open or temporarily closed.

  • Drop-in Care programs are eligible if they were licensed in Kansas on or before March 11, 2021 and continue to be licensed. Drop-in Care programs that received a license after March 11, 2021 are not eligible.
  • Programs with a temporary license are eligible if they were issued a temporary license in Kansas on or before March 11, 2021 and continue to maintain a temporary or permanent license. Programs with a temporary license that received the temporary license after March 11, 2021 are not eligible until they have received a permanent license.
  • Programs must be in compliance with previous grants offered by Child Care Aware of Kansas to be eligible.
  • If programs are ineligible the first time they apply, they may reapply once they reach compliance.

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis from March 1, 2022 and November 30, 2022. Programs may apply at any point during this time!

Grant Amounts

Child care programs that meet the eligibility requirements may apply for funding in the following amounts/categories:

  • Family/Group child care homes: $1,800 per month (up to 9 months)
  • Other child care programs (centers, preschools, head start, school age programs, and drop-in care):
    • Licensed capacity 24 or less children: $3,600 per month (up to 9 months)
    • Licensed capacity between 25-99 children: $9,000 per month (up to 9 months)
    • Licensed capacity 100+ children: $18,000 per month (up to 9 months)
  • Remaining funds will be evaluated by DCF and CCAKS, and there will be 5 additional payments for applicants who apply by November 30, 2022. Amounts are TBD.
  • March 1, 2022: Grant application launches.
  • November 30, 2022 at 5:00 pm CST: Grant application deadline. Grant applications must be received in our office.
  • June 30, 2023: Deadline to spend grant funds.
  • Monthly tracking forms and “OPT-IN” are due monthly *by the 5th of the month* in order to receive payment for that month. Payments are made monthly, on the last business day of the month, starting April 29, 2022.

Visit for more details
>> Apply at
2022 Applications have closed, but you can pre-apply for 2023. 

This program empowers next-gen entrepreneurs to rapidly transition from the lab to the marketplace.

New Mexico LEEP is seeking innovators focused in one of five technology areas, with specific interest and capabilities in sectors that include:

  • Specialized Materials and Alloys
  • Recycling and Recovery
  • Cyber Defense
  • Quantum and Other Novel Computing
  • Bio surveillance and Diagnostics
  • Microbial Ecology
  • Grid Modernization
  • Battery Storage Optimization
  • Novel Payload Development and Testing
  • Remote Sensing

Advantages of the New Mexico LEEP Two-Year Fellowship:

  1. An annual stipend of up to $120,000, plus health insurance, travel reimbursement, and relocation assistance allowing selected Fellows to work solely on product development.
  3. Go to market quickly with a collaboration agreement of $100,000 per year with a New Mexico national laboratory (Los Alamos and Sandia National Labs are program partners) to support early product development.
  5. Training, mentoring and other assistance with technology commercialization and business development.
Technology and innovation companies applying for an SBIR/STTR grant, can get help completing their application with help from the Missouri SBDC!

The Missouri SBDC is awarding 20 grants to Missouri technology companies to specifically help these companies hire grant-writing assistance to get their applications over the finish line. The grants are in the amount of $2,500.

Those interested in applying must be based in Missouri, a current Missouri SBDC client or willing to become a client, and be applying for a Federal SBIR/STTR grant.

Interested innovators are encouraged to apply as early as possible. The grants are awarded on an ongoing basis and reviewed individually for fit.

Apply here
Hy-Vee has committed $50,000 to advancing local minority- and women-owned businesses across greater Kansas City and surrounding states.

If you represent a minority- or woman-owned business, submit a free application to participate in a pitch competition during Hy-Vee’s OpportUNITY Inclusive Business Summit at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. Selected businesses will be invited to present their products or services to a panel of judges for the chance to win up to $30,000! Additional cash investments will be awarded and select finalists may be invited to participate in a roundtable meeting with Hy-Vee following the summit.

Not interested in pitching? No problem! The summit offers minority- and woman-owned business owners the chance to participate in a full-day of networking and professional development at no cost. Attendees will enjoy an expo that offers resources for small businesses, learning opportunities through presentations and panel discussions, the chance to be inspired by others and more.

Questions? Please email


On September 1, Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman, head of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the voice for America’s 33 million small businesses in President Biden’s Cabinet, announced the call for nominations  for the 2023 National Small Business Week (NSBW) Awards. The NSBW Awards recognize SBA-assisted small businesses’ inspirational achievements and contributions to their communities and our nation’s economy. 

All nominations should be submitted electronically by 3 p.m. ET on December 8, 2022. The awards will be presented during the NSBW Awards ceremony in the first week of May 2023. 

For over 50 years, the SBA has celebrated National Small Business Week, which recognizes the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners. 

To nominate a small business owner in your area or download related forms, criteria, and guidelines, visit Nominations for the following categories will be accepted:  

Small Business Person of the Year: A business/owner from each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam will be selected for the State Winner award. The state award winners will compete for the title of National Small Business Person of the Year, SBA’s signature award.

Additional awards include:

  • Small Business Exporter of the Year
  • Phoenix Awards for Disaster Recovery:
    • Phoenix Award for Small Business Disaster Recovery
    • Phoenix Award for Small Business Disaster Recovery - Mitigation
    • Phoenix Award for Outstanding Contributions to Disaster Recovery, Public Official
    • Phoenix Award for Outstanding Contributions to Disaster Recovery, Volunteer
  • Federal Procurement Awards:
    • Small Business Prime Contractor of the Year
    • Small Business Subcontractor of the Year
    • Dwight D. Eisenhower Awards for Excellence (for large prime contractors who use small businesses as suppliers and contractors)
    • 8(a) Graduate of the Year
  • Awards to SBA Resource Partners:
    • Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Excellence and Innovation Center Award
    • Women’s Business Center of Excellence Award
    • Veterans Business Outreach Center of the Year
  • Small Business Investment Company of the Year

For local area contact and other related information, visit online at

Growth360 is a selective opportunity for business owners to participate in a multi-week session of classes on Thursdays from 9am – Noon beginning on January 26, 2023 and running through April 6, 2023 with a break on March 23.

An agreement to attend and participate in all sessions is part of the application process.

Applications are due by January 16, 2023. Notification of acceptance for new Cohort members and declinations will be sent by January 19, 2023.

With a 360° perspective, businesses can avoid blind spots and make smarter decisions. This workshop introduces the GrowthWheel® Framework with participants taking home tools, Decision Sheets and 30-60-90 Day Plans.

How can GROWTH 360 help your business?

  • Supports the decision making we do every day.
  • Supplies a visual toolkit for dialogue, focus, agenda setting, decision-making and action- taking.
  • Provides a simple action oriented process to help you grow.
  • Stays true to the way most entrepreneurs think and work.
  • Helps companies determine which areas to focus on to strengthen and grow their business.
  • Gives an alternative to the conventional business plan.



  • 2 years in business
  • $50,000 in sales prior year
  • owner working full time on business

Apply here (applications are always open and your application will also qualify you for other SBDC services)


Charlotte Street is currently seeking submissions from local artists who want their work considered for the Crossroads Artboards 2023-2024. The Artboards are exterior, double-sided billboards at 125 Southwest Boulevard, Kansas City, Missouri. From April 2023 through March 2024, new, commissioned images by Kansas City area artists will be presented and rotated approximately every three months.

Click here for more information and to apply.

Deadline: January 9

Applications are now open for Artist INC in Houston, Little Rock, and Wichita for Spring 2023.

Artist INC is a professional development program that connects artists of all disciplines to tools, resources, and opportunities necessary to develop their entrepreneurial skills and strengthen their artistic practices.

Thank you to our Artist INC partners: Fresh Arts-Houston, Arkansas Arts Council-Little Rock, and Harvester Arts-Wichita.

Click here to learn more and to apply. 
Deadline: January 17

TheCreative Forces Community Engagement Grantis a program of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in partnership with Mid-America Arts Alliance(M-AAA). This grant program aims to improve the health, well-being, and quality of life for military service members and veterans exposed to trauma as well as their families and caregivers through experiences of art or art making.

Each year, M-AAA will award approximately thirty-five matching grants ranging from $10,000 to $50,000 for arts-based community engagement projects that engage targeted military-connected communities.

Click here for more information and to apply.

Deadline: January 19
HERIMPACT Kansas City Pitch Competition is sponsored by Ford Motor Company Fund and 1863 Ventures. This competition is for women social entrepreneurs in the Kansas City metropolitan area (i.e., the 14 counties straddling Missouri and Kansas).  The total prize pool of $50,000 will be split among the winning contestants.

The pitch competition will take place on Wednesday, March 8, 2023, from 1 - 3 PM CST.  The deadline for applications is Friday, February 10, 2023.

Please fill out the application in its entirety so that our team may make an accurate assessment of program fit. 

If you have any questions along the way, please contact 1863 Ventures at

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