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

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 can be found here.
Apply now!

The Sprint Accelerator is joining with other corporations for 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.

Highlights of the 2019 Corporate Accelerator program:
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

2019 Corporate Sponsors:
Dairy Farmers of America

For more information and to apply, click here!

THE INCUBATE ($18K - $36K per grant)

You’ve got a great idea, or even a specific project that needs funding, but need some help introducing it to the world. Individual finalists are selected for Regional Finals, where your work is displayed during the event and grants are awarded.


THE LAUNCH ($72K - $180K per grant)

You’ve introduced your idea to the world, but are still learning as you make it real. Businesses and organizations selected for Regional Finals will pitch before judges, competing for a grant—winners move on to the Global Finals in New York City.


THE SCALE ($180K - $360K per grant)

You’ve launched, learned, have a solid approach, and are ready for the next level. Businesses and organizations selected for Regional Finals will pitch before judges, competing for a grant—winners move on to the Global Finals in New York City.


For more information, visit WeWork's Creator Awards website.

Digital Sandbox KC: Where Innovators Come to Play (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.
Application Deadline: Ongoing!

DTSKCK promotes economic development, housing, wellness, cultural, and social opportunities in downtown Kansas City, KS. Their Small Business Grant Program provides the small business owner or entrepreneur the possibility of partial “gap filling”, which their research indicates is greatly needed. One qualification: you are in, or plan to locate in, our service area: 4th to 18th; Washington to Sandusky.

Questions are encouraged! Please contact DTSKCK at (913) 371-0705 or for more information, or visit their 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 can learn more here.

(Taken from releases by the Missouri Department of Economic Development & the Kansas Department of Agriculture)

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.
Submit your 2 minute video pitch via Blackboard by 5:00pm on Friday, November 17

Roo Idea Jump
allows UMKC Students to pitch entrepreneurial business plans to judges and compete for prizes and awards. The biannual Roo Jump is held each December and May and is open to all full and part-time, for-credit, undergraduate UMKC students.

Both Roo Idea Jump competitions feature $3,000 in prizes and awards. The Roo Jump is graciously supported by the Regnier Family Foundations.

  • $200: Finalists Award – Each of the five finalist teams will receive $200
  • $500: People’s Choice Award – The audience will vote for the best idea. The award will be distributed proportional to the number of votes each idea receives.
  • $1,500: Judges Award – Each of the three judges will have $500 they can award however they would like. This means each judge could choose to award it all to one team or divide it evenly amongst all teams, or anywhere in between.
 Application details can be found HERE. 
The U.S. Small Business Administration is now accepting nominations for its 2019 National Small Business Week Awards, including the annual Small Business Person of the Year. Since 1963, National Small Business Week has recognized the outstanding achievements of America’s small businesses for their contributions to their local communities, and to our nation’s economy.

“This is a great opportunity to recognize those small businesses that have contributed significantly to their local communities, developed creative products or made advances with innovative technologies,” SBA Administrator Linda McMahon said. “A National Small Business Week award is one of the nation’s highest honors for small business achievement.  I encourage you to visit our dedicated website to download forms, criteria and guidelines for submitting a nomination. I look forward to your nomination and wish you the best of luck.”

 SBA Awards given in celebration of National Small Business Week on May 5-11, 2019 include the following:

Small Business Person of the Year

One from each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam. 

Small Business Exporter of the Year

Phoenix Awards for Disaster Recovery    

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

Jody C. Raskind Lender of the Year

Small Business Investment Company 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  Excellence in Service Award

All nominations must be submitted no later than 3 p.m. EST, Jan. 9, 2019.  All nomination packages must be hand delivered or mailed to the nearest SBA Office.  Email submissions of SBA Awards forms will not be accepted as they contain personally identifiable information (PII). 

For contact information and other District Office information visit online at

Nominate Now!

Nominations for the 18th annual 25 Under 25 Awards are open through Sept. 28, 2018. Nominate as many eligible companies as you’d like — there’s no limit. Self-nominations are encouraged. #DontWaitNominate

Thinking Bigger Business Media’s 25 Under 25 Awards celebrate 25 outstanding small businesses with 25 or fewer employees in the Greater Kansas City area. Only one nomination per company is necessary — all nominees will be invited to apply. To earn the award, nominated companies must submit an application by the deadline in November. An independent panel of judges will choose the winners.

Nominate today!

Pipeline will open applications for the 2019 Entrepreneurial Fellowship on Sept. 1, 2018 . Application closes 10/22/2018!

Entrepreneurial Fellowship on September 1, 2018. Pipeline is an elite organization of the Midwest’s most successful, high-performance entrepreneurs. Pipeline now boasts over 120 entrepreneurs who employ over 2300 people in Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska and have raised more than $513M in outside capital since joining Pipeline.

Pipeline entrepreneurs are typically ready for a growth stage with their company, as this is the time when Pipeline can have the most impact on their skills. More importantly, Pipeline entrepreneurs are interested in becoming a contributing member to the Pipeline organization and all of its’ entrepreneurs - people who advise future Pipeline members and push each other to learn more.

Pipeline is unique in that it does not require equity stake in the companies of its entrepreneurs. Additionally, Pipeline is available for life for each entrepreneur who successfully completes the Fellowship year. The ongoing support has helped many entrepreneurs navigate growth challenges years down the road from their first year inPipeline.

To learn more about applying to Pipeline and upcoming events in Kansas City, Omaha, Wichita and Lincoln please visit:; follow us on Facebook at and watch our video-

Apply Now!

Applications are due by October 3, 2018 by 5:00 PM CST.

Your Best Small Business Pitch Could Win $10,000 

Do you own a business that deserves to be noticed? Enter the AltCap Your Biz competition and see how your best business pitch stacks up to other small businesses in the Kansas City metro area. Winners receive a cash award as well as access to technical assistance resources and peer-to-peer business development mentoring.

Prizes are sponsored by Mutual of Omaha Bank and the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City. Winners will be announced during "Closing the Deal," a live pitch event on November 14  at Global Entrepreneurship Week sponsored by Crema. See below for application and guidelines to apply. 


Download the AltCap Your Biz competition guidelines to get started, follow the directions for creating your business pitch video, then submit your application.

Learn more at or contact for more information. 

Artistic Innovation Grants Deadline: October 15, 2018

Artistic Innovations grants support the creation of innovative new work by artists working in M-AAA’s region (Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas). With generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts, M-AAA distributes grants of up to $15,000 to underwrite the direct expenses related to the art-making process and the public premiere of work. Designed to encourage experimentation and collaboration, Artistic Innovations grants are available to artists and nonprofits working in all disciplines. Priority is given to new work that can tour or be replicated.

Artistic Innovations grants support the creation of new, original works that result in at least two public-facing events, including a premiere feature presentation and an outreach event.

FY20 grants will be for projects taking place between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020.

How to Apply

If you wish to apply, please review the detailed guidelines and application checklists for Individual Artist Applicants and for Organizational Applicants to prepare for the online Artistic Innovations Letter of Intent Form. 

Individual artists, prepare your applications with these GRANT GUIDELINES and use this Letter of Intent Form to APPLY.

Organizations, prepare your applications with these GRANT GUIDELINES and use this Letter of Intent Form to APPLY.

Complete proposals, including reviewed or audited financials, will be accepted until close of business on September 25.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City is accepting proposals from nonprofit organizations for Investment Connection, a live event to be held in Kansas City on November 16.

Investment Connection provides nonprofits an opportunity to showcase community and economic development initiatives to potential funders. The program has resulted in new connections and over $30 million in new funding.

501(c)3 nonprofit organizations in the Kansas City metro with Community Reinvestment Act relevant funding needs are encouraged to apply:

  • Community and economic development activities that benefit low- and moderate-income communities (those that are <80% of area median income) are broadly eligible.
  • Activities that support affordable housing, small business development/microlending, asset building/financial education, community facilities, or workforce development or encouraged to submit a proposal.
  • Proposals seeking an investment or loan that provides a financial return are encouraged.
  • The nonprofit must have one year of reviewed or audited financials. 

Upon review, up to eight proposals will be selected to present on November 16. Selected organizations will have ten minutes to share information about their specific proposal, followed by five minutes of discussion with funders in the audience.  

Proposals will be considered in the order received.  Eligible proposals not selected for the live presentation will be posted on Investment Connection's online portal for review by interested funders.

Please submit your proposal using the online form on the Investment Connection portal and send your most recent reviewed or audited financials to Jeremy.Hegle@KC.FRB.Org by close of business on September 25.

Contact Jeremy Hegle for additional information or assistance.

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