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

Awards and Competitions

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 Misouri's most prominent business competitions that are currently taking nominations.

If you'd like to list a competition or award, please contact info@mosourcelink.com

The Challenge is a $20,000 cash prize business plan competition to identify, encourage, and reward excellence in entrepreneurship in the St. Louis Metro East region.

The first place winner will receive a $10,000 cash prize accompanied by an array of in-kind professional services. 

Second and Third Place winners will receive a $6,000 cash prize and $4,000 cash prize, respectively, along with many in-kind professional services

More information and register to participate

The purpose of the challenge is to:

  • Increase the Metro East region’s interest in and excitement for business start-ups through a competitive process;
  • Identify "growth-oriented" start-ups with plans to operate in the nine-county St. Louis Metro East region;
  • Generate a greater awareness of network services/resources for entrepreneurs and small business owners; and
  • To advance the academic mission of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville by strengthening relationships with private enterprise and expanding opportunities for both students and faculty.

Entry forms along with the first and second rounds of the Metro East Start-Up Challenge will be conducted online through Reviewr, a contract business plan service provider.

The final round is a “10–minute business pitch” in front of a panel of judges in person at Southwestern Illinois University-Edwardsville's School of Business (SIUE)

For more information about eligibility or to enter the competition, click on the link below:

Enter the Competition through Reviewr



Interchange is a program of Mid-America Arts Alliance made possible with support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Interchange is designed to strengthen communities and individual artists within our region by supporting artist-led projects focused on social impact.

Interchange grants will be awarded to 16 artists with an active, socially engaged creative practice in the Mid-America Arts Alliance region through:

  • $20,000 in direct project support
  • Professional development retreats with Interchange grantees
  • Mentoring

    Follow the link to learn more: interchangeartistgrant.art/apply

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.

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.
1ST50K is a startup competition for startup business ideas that offers extensive support from a broad business network, pro-bono development services, and up to $50,000 in cash grants to entrepreneurs to establish or locate their businesses in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

As part of JPMorgan Chase’s “Ascend 2020” program, the Skandalaris Center presents an opportunity for minority and female entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas and network with other business owners and community members. There will be a chance to win a $200 cash prize!

IdeaBounce® is a both an online platform and event for sharing ideas and making connections. This is an opportunity to pitch your idea (no matter how “half-baked”), get feedback on it, and make connections. Inventors, founders, and startups from all across the St. Louis region, and those interested in supporting them, are invited to attend.

Participants will have two minutes to deliver an elevator pitch on their idea, followed by reception to support the ideas and facilitate networking opportunities.

Pure Pitch Rally brings more than 200 CEOs, VIPs and angel investors together to network, collaborate and celebrate the future of tech in KC as local startups compete in a pitch competition. Playing off of ABC’s hit show “Shark Tank” and Kansas City’s landlocked location, a pre-selected panel of executives called “land sharks” will judge the startups’ pitches. Each land shark will donate $1,000 to the start-up pitcher of his/her choice, while attendees will vote to award a People’s Choice cash prize. 

We’re accepting applications for the fifth annual Pure Pitch Rally, which will be held October 12, 2020. From communications and computing to agriculture and architecture, we’re looking for innovators across all aspects of technology to fill our pipeline.

Do you have the perfect pitch? Are you creating technology-based innovations that will enhance our communities and improve our quality of life? Submit the following application for an opportunity to put your business on display in front of the “who’s who” of tech execs and CEOs in Kansas City for an opportunity to earn cash funding!

Applications will be accepted through Friday, August 21.

Questions? Email Lee Stiegemeier at lee@circlesideways.com.

Log on here to apply https://purepitchrally.com/apply/

Kansas City’s first entrepreneurship competition for formerly incarcerated people

Hosted by Determination, Incorporated


 

The U.S. Small Business Administration is now accepting nominations for its 2020 National Small Business Week Awards, including the annual Small Business Person of the Year. For more than 50 years, National Small Business Week has celebrated the inspiring achievements of America’s small businesses and the countless contributions they make to their local communities, and to our nation’s economy.

·       Small Business Person of the Year

o   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:

o   Phoenix Award for Small Business Disaster Recovery

o   Phoenix Award for Outstanding Contributions to Disaster Recovery, Public Official

o   Phoenix Award for Outstanding Contributions to Disaster Recovery, Volunteer

·       Federal Procurement Awards:

o   Small Business Prime Contractor of the Year

o   Small Business Subcontractor of the Year

o   Dwight D. Eisenhower Awards for Excellence (for large prime contractors who use small businesses as suppliers and contractors)

o   8(a) Graduate of the Year

·       Awards to SBA Resource Partners:

o   Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Excellence and Innovation Center Award

o   Women’s Business Center of Excellence Award

o   Veterans Business Outreach Center of the Year

·       Jody C. Raskind Lender of the Year

·       Small Business Investment Company of the Year

·       District Office Award

All nominations must be submitted no later than 3 p.m. EST, Jan. 7, 2020.  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.


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-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 businesses 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. 

Learn more and apply here

The Missouri TechLaunch program was created in order to support early-stage, Missouri entrepreneurs develop technologies, build businesses and create jobs across Missouri. TechLaunch supports life science and technology startups through matching equity or convertible debt investments up to $100,000 for the purpose of technology and business development.

Investment Process:

  1. Quarterly application process opens and applicants are invited to fill out the application via Venture360. (The application is thorough, so start early)
  2. Applications close after about a month and MTC staff reviews all completed applications.
  3. All applicants are notified of whether they are to continue to the MTC investment committee a month after applications close. Those who are not selected to move forward are welcome to set up a time to discuss their application with MTC staff.
  4. MTC Investment Committee meets and selected companies pitch. Investment committee makes funding recommendations and presenting companies are notified within a week.
  5. MTC Board meets to approve recommendations.
  6. Due diligence process begins for selected companies.

In order to qualify for a Missouri TechLaunch investment a company must:

  1. Be based in Missouri;
  2. Have a proprietary or protectable intellectual property;
  3. Be in the pre-seed financing stage;
  4. Have, at the time of closing, an actual third party dollar-for-dollar matching investment for MTC funds;
  5. Fit into at least one of MTC’s five focus areas – animal health, plant science, biomedical science, applied engineering (software), and defense and homeland security; and
  6. Complete the application process.

Contact for Questions:
Tori Benson at Tori.Benson@ded.mo.gov or 573-298-2887

Learn more and apply here!

The Missouri SEED Capital Co-Investment program was created in order to support early-stage, Missouri entrepreneurs develop technologies, , create jobs across Missouri, and position companies for venture capital investment. The SEED fund supports technology startups through matching equity or convertible debt investments up to $500,000 for the purpose of technology and business development.

Investment Process:

  1. Quarterly application process opens and applicants are invited to fill out the application via Venture360. (The application is thorough, so start early)
  2. Applications close after about a month and MTC staff reviews all applications.
  3. All applicants are notified of whether they are to continue to the MTC investment committee a month after applications close. Those who are not selected to move forward are welcome to set up a time to discuss their application with MTC staff.
  4. MTC Investment Committee meets and selected companies pitch. Investment committee makes funding recommendations and presenting companies are notified within a week.
  5. MTC Board meets to approve recommendations.
  6. Due diligence process begins for selected companies.

In order to qualify for a Missouri SEED investment a company must:

  1. Be based in Missouri;
  2. Have a proprietary or protectable intellectual property;
  3. Be in the seed financing stage;
  4. Have, at the time of closing, an actual thirdparty dollar-for-dollar matching investment for MTC funds;
  5. Fit into at least one of MTC’s five focus areas – animal health, plant science, biomedical science, applied engineering (software), and defense and homeland security; and
  6. Complete the application process.

Contact for Questions
Tori Benson at Tori.Benson@ded.mo.gov or 573-298-2887

Learn more and apply here! 
Applications to pitch for a $100,000 investment during the upcoming Rise of the Rest Road Trip are now open! Companies must submit a completed application no later than 11:59 PM ET Monday, February 24, 2020, to be considered.

Do you have a winning retail idea that deserves free rent? Perhaps a business that is currently only online? Or maybe an interactive/entertainment concept? You could be the next big thing in retail!

The Meadows at Lake St. Louis presents RetailNextSTL 2020, a search for a business concept that would thrive at the most popular destination in St. Charles County, The Meadows at Lake St. Louis. If you have a great idea or an existing small business, and the drive to take it to the next level, you could win free rent for up to a year, including a build out allowance and advice along the way from our panel of successful judges and mentors. Entrepreneurs will submit concepts and those who advance to the semi-finalists will be invited to present their ideas live in front of the judges in the form of a 10-minute presentation. The final concepts will be voted on by the judges and the greater St. Louis community via social media. The winner, who has the best chance of success, will be assisted in launching his/her concept at The Meadows in Lake Saint Louis later this year! The goal of this competition is to accelerate successful concepts that will work not only for the entrepreneurs, but also become a model for malls to find future tenants – in St. Louis and beyond.

For questions about RetailNEXT and how to enter, please contact Craig Kaminer at 314-363-3333!


Learn more and apply here. Deadline to apply is September 1st. 

The SQ1 Boot Camp is offered once a year. Applications open June 15 and the class is seated by mid-August. Classes run from September 14 to November 17, 2020. Applicants are expected to be beyond idea/concept stage and to be working with at least one mentor and/or professional advisor. Participants are expected to attend all classes, on Monday and Tuesday nights, for the duration of the program.

Program prerequisites include:

  1. First draft of a business model canvas
  2. Phone interview at the discretion of the program director and/or sector leader
  3. Signed participant agreement
  4. Completion of any pre-class assignments

Key Dates for 2020
SQ1 Boot Camp Application Opens June 15 – Click here to submit an application
SQ1 Boot Camp Application Closes August 15
SQ1 Boot Camp Classes Begin September 14 and ends November 17

Cost
Funding for SQ1 programming is provided in part by the Missouri Technology Corporation and through a contract with the U.S. Small Business Administration as part of the SBA Regional Innovation Clusters Program. SQ1 Boot Camp participants are asked to pay a $250 administrative fee which is used to match the funding CET receives from its generous supporters. Scholarships are available on an at-need basis.

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