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

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.

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.

 

We offer the BALSA Grant to help first time entrepreneurs get their ideas off the ground.

BALSA Grant finalists receive:

  • Free (non-dilutive) cash grant of $1,000

  • The Learning Series, a 10 week comprehensive entrepreneur training program that helps participants realize their potential, introduces them to the St. Louis business ecosystem and brings them industry experts every week that also includes one on one time with each presenter after the session.

    (Valued at $20,000+ in In-kind professional services

  • One-on-one mentoring

The BALSA Grant is designed for first-time St. Louis entrepreneurs wanting to start or grow their early stage business in St. Louis.  We welcome applications from all business sectors, and from non-profit as well as for-profit organizations.  

You can apply to The BALSA Grant twice a year, January 1-15 and July 1-15.

Before applying, be sure to download and read the Entrepreneur's Roadmap.  Also, submitting your idea to Idea Support is a great way to get feedback to improve your BALSA Grant application. 


More Details about the BALSA Grant:
http://www.balsafoundation.org/strong-applications
Do you have a solution that can reduce the severity of the coronavirus outbreak, but need help commercializing and rapidly deploying? The Black & Veatch COVID-19 Response Accelerator is designed for growing companies looking to scale emerging solutions to save lives, help communities cope, and protect the economy.

APPLY HERE
(Selections are chosen on a rolling basis)

OPEN TO ALL APPLICANTS
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.
 
PROGRAM PRICE
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.
 

ACADEMIC CREDIT FOR UMKC STUDENTS
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.

 VENTURES WITH MULTIPLE FOUNDERS
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.  


APPLY HERE

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 CECARES@jccc.edu to see if you qualify!

Overland Park Kansas is working together with Community Capital Fund to distribute funds received through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021. There are three different options to access these funds. 

The Small Business Rescue Fund: Businesses meeting the eligibility criteria set under the Department of the Treasury’s Final Rule for American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding support are invited to apply to the “Small Business Rescue Fund”.  Community Capital Fund will administer this ARPA fund, with a maximum grant award of $50,000 per applicant. Funding for the program is limited and an application does not guarantee an award. 

Eligible business types include for-profit businesses, non-profit organizations, home-based, and internet-based businesses located within the boundaries of Overland Park, KS. 

The Impacted Industries Fund: Businesses meeting the eligibility criteria set under the Department of the Treasury’s Final Rule for ARPA funding support are invited to apply to the “Impacted Industries Fund”.  Community Capital Fund will administer this ARPA fund, with a maximum grant award of $50,000 per applicant. Funding for the program is limited and an application does not guarantee an award. 

Eligible business types for this fund include industries that experienced job loss of more than eight percent due to the COVID-19 pandemic, identified below. Businesses must be located within the boundaries of Overland Park, KS. 

1. Utilities 
2. Management of Companies and Enterprises 
3. Information 
4. Education Services 
5. Mining, Quarrying, Oil and Gas Extraction 
6. Accommodation and Food Services (Hospitality, Travel and Tourism) 
7. Creative Industries (Advertising + Marketing/ Architecture, Crafts, Design: Product, Graphic Design, Fashion, Film/TV/Radio/Photography, Publishing, Music, Performing & Visual Arts) 

The Hotel Fund: Hotel businesses in Overland Park, KS have been particularly impacted by COVID-19 but often their annual revenue exceeds the cap for the Impacted Industries ARPA Fund. To provide support, Community Capital Fund (CCF) will administer a separate fund, with a maximum grant award of $50,000 for hotel businesses. 

USE OF FUNDS
1. Payroll
2. Rent or Mortgage Assistance (except for home-based and internet-based businesses)
3. Offsetting economic losses
4. Employee childcare support
5. Business improvement needs (e.g.,., energy efficiency and upgrades)
6. Workforce development and training
7. Other funding requests may be made on a case-by-case basis but will need pre-approval by CCF and the City of Overland Park, KS

Learn More and Apply HERE

While COVID-19 took a tremendous toll on our lives and livelihoods, it also unleashed a wave of creativity and energy as our community developed responses to the pandemic. Comeback KC Ventures is an effort to help turn the innovative solutions developed during the pandemic into a permanent part of our economic recovery. The Comeback KC Ventures program is designed to highlight new solutions that have emerged in response to COVID-19 and to support entrepreneurs developing these solutions into ongoing products, service lines, and businesses.

Here are the specific ways you can get involved:

As solutions are discovered, and on a rolling basis, at least 20 entrepreneurs will be invited to become part of a Comeback KC Venture Fellows group. Through Comeback KC Venture Fellows, entrepreneurs will importantly connect with each other, but also to training, counseling, and industry experts help provide needed support to rapidly develop solutions to meet these opportunities.

Each Comeback KC Venture Fellow will:

  • Create and meet with an advisory board
  • Build community through peer-to-peer roundtables
  • Increase visibility to investors
  • Attend classes and educational sessions
  • Have an opportunity and get application support for funding through programs like SBIR and Digital Sandbox

This program is being funded through an 18-month grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration, led by KC Digital Drive and the UMKC Innovation Center and is open to people that reside within the 9-county Kansas City region. We are hoping to sprint toward 10 new high-growth potential companies that generate 30 new jobs and $5 million in follow-on funding by October 2022.

All Participants are encouraged to apply for Digital Sandbox KC proof-of-concept project support.  An average of $20,000 in direct technical assistance is available per project. See https://www.digitalsandboxkc.com/

.

$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: https://www.kansascommerce.gov/program/business-incentives-and-services/kansas-innovation-technology-enterprise/proof-of-concept/for-profit/application/

 

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 elahue@missouri.edu

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.
Timeline
  • 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 https://ks.childcareaware.org/grants/ for more details
>> Apply at nmleep.com
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.
  2.  
  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.
  4.  
  5. Training, mentoring and other assistance with technology commercialization and business development.
 

At Builders + Backers, we believe great ideas exist in every corner of the country. As Winston Churchill once said, “There are plenty of good ideas, if only they can be backed with the power of action.” 

With the Idea Accelerator, we’re doing just that. They help you put your idea into action in a no-cost, no-risk way. Their Builders learn and then apply world-class entrepreneurial ways to run short, high-impact tests of their ideas. No entity, business plan or traction required to apply. Bring your biggest and boldest ideas and let’s get started!

Apply here: https://www.buildersandbackers.com/apply

ABOUT

Hotel businesses in Overland Park, KS have been particularly impacted by COVID-19 but often their annual revenue exceeds the cap for the Impacted Industries ARPA Fund. To provide support, Community Capital Fund (CCF) will administer a separate fund, with a maximum grant award of $50,000 for hotel businesses.

USE OF FUNDS

1. Payroll

2. Rent or Mortgage Assistance (except for home-based and internet-based businesses)

3. Offsetting economic losses

4. Employee childcare support

5. Business improvement needs (e.g.,., energy efficiency and upgrades)

6. Workforce development and training

7. Other funding requests may be made on a case-by-case basis but will need pre-approval by CCF and the City of Overland Park, KS

The fund opens Monday, May 30, 2022; Applications will be accepted until June 30, 2022

Applications will be available online or in fillable PDF that may be emailed for submission. If translation services, technical assistance or a printable form is needed please email grants@ccfkansascity.org.

https://www.ccfkansascity.org/opks-arpa

ABOUT

Businesses meeting the eligibility criteria set under the Department of the Treasury’s Final Rule for ARPA funding support are invited to apply to the “Impacted Industries Fund”. Community Capital Fund will administer this ARPA fund, with a maximum grant award of $50,000 per applicant. Funding for the program is limited and an application does not guarantee an award.

Eligible business types for this fund include industries that experienced job loss of more than eight percent due to the COVID-19 pandemic, identified below. Businesses must be located within the boundaries of Overland Park, KS.

1. Utilities

2. Management of Companies and Enterprises

3. Information

4. Education Services

5. Mining, Quarrying, Oil and Gas Extraction

6. Accommodation and Food Services (Hospitality, Travel and Tourism)

7. Creative Industries (Advertising + Marketing/ Architecture, Crafts, Design: Product, Graphic Design, Fashion, Film/TV/Radio/Photography, Publishing, Music, Performing & Visual Arts)

USE OF FUNDS

1. Payroll

2. Rent or Mortgage Assistance (except for home-based and internet-based businesses)

3. Offsetting economic losses

4. Employee childcare support

5. Business improvement needs (e.g., energy efficiency and upgrades)

6. Workforce development and training

7. Other funding requests may be made on a case-by-case basis but will need pre-approval by CCF and the City of Overland Park, KS

The fund opens Monday, May 30, 2022; Applications will be accepted until June 30, 2022

Applications will be available online or in fillable PDF that may be emailed for submission. If translation services, technical assistance or a printable form is needed please email grants@ccfkansascity.org.

https://www.ccfkansascity.org/opks-arpa

Businesses meeting the eligibility criteria set under the Department of the Treasury’s Final Rule for American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding support are invited to apply to the “Small Business Rescue Fund”. Community Capital Fund will administer this ARPA fund, with a maximum grant award of $50,000 per applicant. Funding for the program is limited and an application does not guarantee an award.

Eligible business types include for-profit businesses, non-profit organizations, home-based, and internet-based businesses located within the boundaries of Overland Park, KS.

USE OF FUNDS

1. Payroll

2. Rent or Mortgage Assistance (except for home-based and internet-based businesses)

3. Offsetting economic losses

4. Employee childcare support

5. Business improvement needs (e.g., energy efficiency and upgrades)

6. Workforce development and training

7. Other funding requests may be made on a case-by-case basis but will need pre-approval by CCF and the City of Overland Park, KS

The fund opens Monday, May 30, 2022; Applications will be accepted until June 30, 2022

Applications will be available online or in fillable PDF that may be emailed for submission. If translation services, technical assistance or a printable form is needed please email grants@ccfkansascity.org.

https://www.ccfkansascity.org/opks-arpa
The Empower Grant Program provides critical funding. mentoring, and connections to help founders build viable businesses ready for growth and sustainability. This program will provide 8 businesses up to $2,500 in grants that will directly support businesses with their back office equipment coast, rental assistance, or general system needs. The Empowerment Grant Program is accepting 25 applications on a first come first serve basis. 

Ideas from people and businesses based in Wyandotte County are eligible to receive project funding. 

Click Here for additional information and to apply!

Program brought to you by Network Kansas, The Porter House KC, and The Toolbox Small Business Resource Center

The Antares REACH Grant Program will provide $20,000 grants to small businesses, with an emphasis on businesses preparing for their next stage of growth; operated by historically underrepresented entrepreneurs; and providing important community services.

To be eligible, a business must:

  • Be a for-profit business that is majority (51%) owned and/or operated by individuals who identify as New Majority (Women, People of Color, Military-affiliated, Persons with Disabilities, or LGBTQ+)
  • Have less than $5 million USD in annual revenue
  • Have a demonstrated need for support
  • Have a strong plan for moving forward

Grant recipients will be eligible to receive an additional $5,000 unrestricted grant after completion of a post-grant report.

For a full list of eligibility criteria, please see the terms and conditions.

Applications for the Antares REACH Grant Program will be accepted from Monday, June 6, 2022 at 9 a.m. ET to Friday, July 15, 2022, at 6 p.m. ET.

Application Link: https://app.helloalice.com/communities/alice/applications/antares-reach-grant-program?_gl=1*hebhce*_ga*MTM3MTE2ODEwMC4xNjUyOTcyM
21C Kansas City offers the Artadia Award, a $10,000 unrestricted grant to visual artists in the Kansas City area (including Cass, Clay, Jackson, Johnson, Leavenworth, Miami, Platte, Ray, and Wyandotte counties).
 
Springboard's Dolphin Tank pitch event brings the power of our collective community to women entrepreneurs innovating in enterprises Tech. Our Dolphin Tank events showcase exciting women-led companies and provide them with the opportunity for connections, capital, and insight from our audience of investors, advisors and industry leaders. For 22 years, Springboard has been surrounding women with what they need to lead and succeed.
Join Springboard Enterprises and Dolphin Tank sponsor OneKC for Women for an exciting pitch event featuring women founders and entrepreneurs, expert panelists, and interactive audience participation! 

When and Where

August 04, 2022 at 5:00 CT
Polsinelli
900 W 48th St, Kansas City, MO 64112
Please note: This will be an in-person event

RSVP TODAY!


Pitch Your Company

We're looking for the best and brightest women-led tech startups to pitch their companies at Dolphin Tank Kansas City Women in Tech.

APPLICATIONS ARE DUE BY JULY 14, 2022. 

Criteria for presenting companies:

  • The company must have at least one woman founder or in a key leadership position.
  • Areas of focus that include, but are not limited to enterprise-focused tech solutions.
  • Demonstrated innovation in your industry and traction in your market.
  • Seed stage to growth stage.
  • Must be able to present in Kansas City, MO on August 4th.

Questions? Email rachel@springboardenterprises.org

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