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

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
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.

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.

** $75,000 in Prizes to Student Entrepreneurs! **

The Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge (KEC) is sponsored by the Kansas Masonic Foundation and Kansas Masons in partnership with Kansas State University and the Network Kansas Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge (YEC) Series to promote entrepreneurship and small business development in Kansas.  The competition is for student created, managed, and owned ventures.

https://cba.k-state.edu/academics/departments/center-advancement-entrepreneurship/ks-entrepreneurship-challenge.html

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.
The MaTCH Pilot Competition seeks to address the job skills and placement gaps faced by U.S. businesses by providing funding to create or expand programs with job-specific and so˜ skills training within existing makerspaces. Uniquely positioned to help increase workforce development in U.S. cities, makerspaces:

Embrace independent work and self-employment
Focus on new paths for vocational education
Generate new apprenticeship opportunities
Build new job skills
Boost jobs that provide a pathway into the middle class

The MaTCH Pilot Challenge: to create or expand programs that provide job-specific and so˜ skills training within existing makerspaces, including industry or trade certifications when feasible. The goal is to have all program graduates immediately placed in positions with previously-identified employers that are in need of skilled labor. The SBA will award up to $1 million total in prizes to fund winning proposals. 

To Enter: Applicants must submit a business plan that, among other things, details their team’s qualifications, experience, and resources; the proposed training curriculum; the nature and length of the training/certification program; and the number of trainees that will be accommodated.

The MaTCH Pilot Competition entry form, rules and requirements available online at: SBA.gov/MaTCH

Submission Deadline: July 8, 2019 

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 fourth annual Pure Pitch Rally, which will be held October 15, 2019. 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 16.

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.


2020 Program Details 

Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) is a national cooperative owned by more than 8,500 dairy farm families from across the United States. DFA is committed to providing value to its farmer-owners through marketing members’ milk, providing services and resources on the farm and connecting our family farms with plants and brands such as Borden® CheesePlugrá® Butter and Kemps® to name a few.

For the 2020 program, DFA is seeking early-stage food product companies that are dairy-focused or dairy-based. On the AgTech front, DFA is looking for companies with ag-tech applications related to any portion of the dairy value chain, including but not limited to product testing, data management, herd health and management, supply chain optimization, sustainability and traceability.

Food Product:

  • Companies that are doing new and interesting things with dairy as the main component

AgTech:

  • ERP systems
  • Drone technologies
  • Robotics and automation technologies for the farm
  • Sensor technologies in agronomy, digester efficiency, and new technology in animal health around mastitis


For more information and to apply, click here! 
Supports startups and established organizations dedicated to deploy secure applications in industries that have a high sensitivity to privacy. 

The opportunity: 
  • $10,000 cash, no equity forfeited
  • $10,000 in R&D on your platform
  • Additional resources in accounting, legal & marketing.

First three winners received between $20k-$50k. 

Next round to be announced December 15th! 

Learn more and apply here! 
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
Are you building the next big thing? Jumpstart your early-stage business when you're part of Cohort 5 of the efactory's accelerator program. Our transformational twelve-week program provides emerging companies with $30,000 in capital, specialized programming, and unparalleled resources. 

We're proud to be the region's leading resource for entrepreneurs and technology startups. When you work with us, you gain access to our broad network of partnerships, university resources, and more. 

  • Investment: Participating companies receive a $30,000 investment in exchange for eight percent equity. 
  • Access to the Experts: Accelerator companies are paired with lead mentors, have access to industry professionals, and receive free business consulting through the Small Business Development Center at MSU.
  • Room to Grow: accelerator companies have secure, 24/7 access to the efactory. During the program companies have dedicated office space, gigabit Internet, unlimited use of meeting rooms and more. 
  • Everything Else: Those are just the highlights. Companies receive introductions for follow-on funding, free entry to efactory programs and additional perks. 
Cohort #5 Program Dates:

December 1, 2019: Application Open
February 29, 2020: Applications Close
May 11-August 10, 2020: Cohort #5 in session 
August 10, 2020: Demo Day 

Learn more and apply today! 

The 2019 InvestMidwest showcased 36 companies representing 15 states in three industry tracks of life sciences, technology and food/ag/bioenergy. Accredited investors are welcome to view information regarding these companies--please click here to request this information.

The application process for the 2020 InvestMidwest forum begins on December 9, 2019, with the early consideration deadline on January 6, 2020.  The final application deadline is January 31, 2020. 


Who should apply to present at the annual InvestMidwest?

Apply to be a
presenting company

Up to 45 companies seeking funding are selected to present. The conference showcases companies in three industry tracks: life sciences, technology/general business and food/ag/bioenergy. The InvestMidwest selection committee will consider companies that meet the following criteria:

  • Located within the center corridor of the United States
  • Seeking $1M to $20M in funding
  • Revenue projections of $20 million within five years (with the exception of life sciences companies)

When is the application deadline?

To pre-qualify for a Presenting Company spot at the next InvestMidwest Forum, please click hereCompanies that have completed their full application by the early application deadline of January 6, 2020, will receive preferential consideration by the selection committees. The final application deadline is January 31, 2020. All companies will be contacted by March 13, 2020 regarding their acceptance.

Is there a fee to apply?

There is not a fee to apply. If you are selected, the fee to participate in the program is $750, which includes two registrations to the event. Companies that are selected will have the opportunity to present an 8 minute PowerPoint presentation before a prominent audience of venture, corporate and angel investors.

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.
In each Backstage Tour 2020 city (St. Louis, MO), we’ll be running a full investment process to select 1 company to receive a minimum $25k investment and join our portfolio. In each city, 5 companies will be selected to pitch live during the main evening event, and we’ll announce our investment selection and welcome 1 new company as a Backstage Headliner.

Instructions: 
  • Complete the application form
  • Submission deadline: March 31 at 11:59pm EST
  • Apply to only 1 city where your company is located – we are looking to showcase and invest in companies who are local to the Tour city
  • You will be notified by the end of April whether or not you are selected as a finalist
  • If selected as a finalist in your city, you (or a member of your team) will pitch to the live audience and a panel of judges
  • Finalists will present a 3-5min pitch with a short Q&A
  • The selected company will receive $25,000 in investment from Backstage Capital via a SAFE note (more information will be available for the selected finalists)

Qualifications

  • At least 1 founder must identify as a woman, person of color, or LGBTQ+
  • At least 1 founder must be local to the Tour 2020 city (or a surrounding area)
  • Current Backstage portfolio companies are not eligible for selection
Learn more and apply here! 

Applications for the 2020 round of the 1ST50K startup competition are officially open through May 31, and the focus is on Southeast Missouri entrepreneurs.

1ST50K, a startup competition that helps turn innovative startup ideas into scalable ventures, has been awarding $50,000 equity free to entrepreneurs since the program’s first round in 2015. Teams at all phases of the startup journey have been selected for awards and judging criteria involves the qualities and coach ability of the team, having a well-understood and defined problem, a product-market fit, scalability of the business model, and the impact the 1ST50K program would have on the venture.

The regional focus on Southeast Missouri entrepreneurs and startups continues with the upcoming competition. Local entrepreneurs are encouraged to apply at MarquetteTech.com/Launch. Startups that apply by April 30 will receive additional feedback to improve their application ahead of the final deadline on May 31.  Finalists are invited to Cape Girardeau in late July for Pitch Day to meet other participants and the local startup community before making the case to the competition committee be selected for an award.

1ST50K is funded by a recent award from the Missouri Technology Corporation’s Missouri Building Entrepreneurial Capacity, a highly competitive grant competition. The grant is being matched dollar for dollar by local private donations to support the program.

For more information:

Stacy Dohogne Lane

Director of Public Relations, Codefi and Marquette Tech

stacy@marquettetech.com

 

Don't miss this chance for a $50K investment and world-class mentorship for your startup from an accelerator that has been ranked as a top program for the last 5 years! 

Capital Innovators provides startups with the resources and connections they need to reach the next level. 

The Capital Innovators Startup Accelerator Program, based in St. Louis, MO, provides tech startups with:
  • $50,000 in seed funding
  • Mentorship from C-suite executives, seasoned entrepreneurs, and technical experts 
  • Access to a global network of startups 
  • Connections to customers and strategic partners for top-line growth 
  • Co-working and first-class office space in the Cortex Innovation District of St. Louis
For more information, please reach out and CI's team will contact you to discuss your specific goals. 

Applications for the Fall 2020 Capital Innovators Accelerator are open through June 18, 2020.

Learn more and apply today! 
Stadia Accelerator helps established sports & esports startups get to the next level through the combination of up to a $100,000 equity investment, intensive mentoring, and connections to the top sports & esports business executives in the country. We leverage our network of industry executives that include senior leaders at teams, leagues, sponsors, game developers, publishers, manufacturers, marketers, investors, business services, etc. We finish the delivery by helping companies close their next deal, land their next investment round, or find their exit partner. Our success is determined by our cohort’s financial success!

Learn more and apply here! 

Application deadline: June 12, 2020 

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