Business Competitions and Awards


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 [email protected]

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.

NAACP, in conjunction with Medium Rare and The Shark Group, has launched applications for the fourth annual NAACP Powershift Entrepreneur Grant in celebration of Black Entrepreneurs Day.

The NAACP Powershift Entrepreneur Grant aims to empower Black entrepreneurs and businesses through funding and resources and has, in previous years, contributed largely to the growth of Black businesses across the nation.

Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses has helped entrepreneurs across the country grow their businesses for over a decade by offering a free practical business training program, access to capital, and personalized support services.

Now, we are expanding, bringing this best-in-class training program to rural communities across America.


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

Pilot Research Program How it Works Graphic

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.

MTC’s IDEA Fund was developed as a state-sponsored venture capital program to support Missouri’s early-stage entrepreneurs in developing technologies and creating jobs across Missouri while positioning companies for future venture capital investment. The IDEA Fund supports technology startups through matching equity or convertible debt investments for the purpose of technology and business development.

To date, MTC has made direct investments of nearly $46M into over 140 of the state’s most promising early-stage technology-focused companies and those companies have raised over $1.1bn in follow-on private funding.

The deadlines for full consideration for each quarterly application review cycle for 2023 are listed below.

April 2023 Award Cycle – Application deadline of 11:59 pm, Wednesday, February 8, 2023
July 2023 Award Cycle – Application deadline of 11:59 pm, Wednesday, May 17, 2023
October 2023 Award Cycle – Application deadline of 11:59 pm, Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Interested in applying? Visit the Missouri Technology Corporation’s website

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 [email protected]

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.

Applications for fully-funded Ford Fund Fellowship powered by Watson Institute (16-week program from March 2024 to June 2024) are now open. The Ford Fund Fellowship is an intensive venture and leadership development program designed to empower entrepreneurs and community leaders to elevate the impactful ventures they are building. This program equips next-generation, early-stage entrepreneurs with the skills, resources, and experience to scale the impactful ventures they are building. Ford Fund Fellows will advance skills in entrepreneurship and leadership, have the opportunity to earn venture development stipend, garner experience, and build a global network, as they lay the foundation to empower many more individuals and transform their communities.

This program offers virtual and in-person components that allow fellows to take advantage of the global cohort while also focusing on creating local impact within their communities. Virtual Programming includes courses with successful entrepreneurs and skills workshops. In-Person Programming includes Fellow-led Basecamps and Fellow-led meetups.

Up to $6,000 in Venture Development Stipend is available for select Fellows, based on comprehensive performance in the program, progress, and impact throughout the Fellowship.

Applications to The Ford Fund Fellowship are open and the deadline to apply is January 15th, 2024. Learn more and apply here:

Queer|Art announces The Illuminations Grant for Black Trans Women Visual Artists. This annual $10,000 grant, awarded to draw attention to an existing body of work, sheds light on the under-recognized contributions of Black trans women visual artists and provides critical support to their continuing work. Winning artists will receive additional professional development resources and further guidance to bolster their creative development in the field.

Deadline: July 12
Apply Now

Building on the over $2 Million in small business loans awarded by the EDC Loan Corporation, this program is a partnership with the Prospect Business Association, who will provide their business development services to awardees.

Funds can be used by qualifying businesses for any expense. Preference will be given to minority or woman-owned businesses or those operating in financially distressed communities.

Businesses must be for-profit entities located within Kansas City, Missouri that have existed for at least a year, employ no more than 10 employees, and have less than $150,000 in revenue. Other criteria is listed on the program page.

Loan rates and repayment terms are specific to each loan, though competitive rates of 3.5%–5% are offered. There are no penalties for prepayment and no minimum credit score is required.

To learn more and apply, visit the Microloan program page.

We are excited to announce our application is now open for companies interested in pitching at InvestMidwest 2024.
Submit your application for consideration to pitch at InvestMidwest 2024. InvestMidwest will be in Kansas City, Missouri on April 17-18, 2024. You will need to be in Kansas City on April 17 and 18 if your company is selected to pitch. Please don’t start this application until you have your pitch deck and executive summary ready to submit. You will hear if your company was selected to pitch in early January.
This is an exciting opportunity for startups and emerging growth companies to showcase their innovative ideas and connect with potential investors. Companies selected to present at the conference will have the chance to pitch their business to a diverse group of investors and industry leaders. Don’t miss out on this chance to take your company to the next level.
You will notice several differences this year, including a shorter application, two periods of time to submit applications, and a shorter window of time to apply in each period. Your first chance to apply is right now. By applying now you can confirm your spot to pitch at InvestMidwest early. There will be a second chance to apply in January.

Digital Health KC will spur the industry’s growth, increase collaboration among area digital health organizations, and leverage regional strengths into a vibrant digital ecosystem through coordination and communication of regional assets, partnerships, and investments for innovation.

The partnership between the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Wells Fargo, and Fresco Marketing, is pleased to announce that we will be awarding Ten (10) $10,000 grants to Hispanic owned business or the second consecutive year

Grant Selection Guidelines:
  • 10 (Ten) $10,000 Grants

  • A selection committee will be selecting the recipients of these grants among qualified applications.

  • Application deadline: Friday, December 22nd, 2023

  • Winners will be notified on Monday, January 15th, 2024.

  • The grant may be used for any business expense, current, future, or past.

  • Criteria to Qualify for a Grant:
    • The business needs to be Hispanic-owned.

    • The business’s commercial address must be located within the following zip codes:

      • Northeast: 64124, 64123, 64127, 64126, 64125

      • KCK/Wyandotte: 66101, 66102, 66104, 66105

    • The business must have been in operation for at least 1 year before November 1, 2023.

    • Must have 10 or fewer employees.

    • Possess a physical location or brick-and-mortar establishment.

    • The business must meet the requirements of the Missouri and/or Kansas Secretary of State and be registered.

    • It is not necessary to be a member of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to qualify.


Join Verizon Small Business Digital Ready to access free courses, events and more. Plus, right now you can apply for $10,000 grants. You can learn more about how to apply by watching our webinar with Verizon on-demand, or you can get started right away by clicking the button below.

To unlock the application for the current round of grant funding, register on Verizon Small Business Digital Ready, complete any combination of two courses, coaching events, and community events, and apply by December 20, 2023*.


Kansas City Business Help Guide ArrowNEXT GUIDE

Connect with Us!

Get insights, inspiration and events to help you start, grow and accelerate KC businesses.

How can we help you?

Our team helps grow entrepreneurship in Kansas City every day.