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 info@kcsourcelink.com

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:
Sprint 
Dairy Farmers of America
CoBank

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.

APPLY NOW

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.

APPLY NOW

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.

APPLY NOW

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.

RESULTS SO FAR:
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 Director@DowntownKCK.org 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 www.sba.gov/nsbw 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 www.sba.gov/districtoffices.

Nominate Now!

Are you ready to work on your business, not just in it? ScaleUP! Kansas City helps you develop the confidence, connections and community to be the next big think in KC business.

Offered at no cost to selected participants, ScaleUP! KC helps homegrown Kansas City businesses scale—from any industry, tech, retail, construction, B2B, etc.

With four-months of coaching and curriculum and a lifelong peer-networking community, ScaleUP! KC helps business owners find that time, mentors and strategy to aim beyond their first $1 million in revenue.

What you need to know . . .


ScaleUP! KC is an impactful, transformative (and no-cost) opportunity that helps our KC business owners work ON their businesses, not just IN them.

Who can apply:
Business owners can apply to join this elite cohort of growth-oriented businesses if they:

  • lead a company that has been in business for at least two years and has at least two employees
  • generate annual sales in excess of $200,000
  • have a strong market than can generate more than $1 million in sales
  • strive to drive their businesses to greater heights

Fact sheet

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.

14 SBA awards, including the annual Small Business Person of the Year are given on May 5-11, 2019 in celebration of the National Small Business Week.


Small businesses can self-nominate.

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 questions specific to the nominations, please contact smallbusinessweek@sba.gov

For District Office information, visit online at sba.gov/mo.

Click here to read the Full Press Release.

Click here for Award Guidelines and Nomination Forms

 

Nominate today!

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