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.

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

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.

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.

AltCap, an impact-focused small business lender, is now accepting applications for the 2023 AltCap Your Biz Pitch Competition.

Now in its eighth year, the AltCap Your Biz Pitch Competition offers a stage for pioneering entrepreneurs to share their stories, business plans, and community impact for the chance to win cash. In total, the 2023 competition will award more than $40,000 in cash prizes to entrepreneurs.

AltCap invites ambitious entrepreneurs in Kansas and Missouri to submit an application and pitch video that details their business vision, team, and strategies for growth. The application deadline is Oct. 4. Please review the full guidelines before submitting an application.

After reviewing applications, a panel of judges will select 10 finalists who will compete to deliver the best pitch during our Closing the Deal event on Nov. 16 during Global Entrepreneurship Week – Kansas City.

The first-place winner will be awarded $25,000 and the second-place will take home $10,000.

New to the 2023 event is the Change Maker award, which will dish out $5,000 to the company that has the most compelling business plan and social impact in their community. The Fan Favorite prize will award $2,500 to the business that earns the most votes on social media and during the live pitch event.

Previous winners of the AltCap Your Biz Pitch Competition include Diversity Telehealth (2022), Cafe Cà Phê (2021) and AccessAble Living (2019).

Winners will receive the following cash prizes:

  • 1st place — $25,000
  • 2nd place — $10,000
  • Change Maker — $5,000
  • Fan Favorite (Social Media & In-Person voting) — $2,500

Eligibility for small business owners and entrepreneurs:

  • Entrepreneurs or owners of an existing business with annual revenues of less than $250,000 that are interested in growing and expanding.
  • Entrepreneurs with a business registered in Missouri or Kansas.
  • Startups are eligible but must have their business registered by November 10th and be ready to start operation in the first quarter of 2024.
  • Must be a for-profit business; non-profit organizations are not eligible to apply.
  • You must be able to attend the in-person pitch event on Nov. 16.
  • Prior winners are not eligible to apply.

To apply, read and review the 2023 AltCap Your Biz Guidelines in full and then follow the instructions to fill out your application and to create a pitch video.

Eligible applicants may submit an application and post a pitch video per the contest guidelines.

Learn More and Apply Here

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.


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