Despite the government program’s uncertain financial future, the Missouri Technology Corporation will inject $250,000 into the popular grants contest LaunchKC for 2018.
After having its budget slashed from nearly $23 million in 2017 to $3.4 million in 2018, the MTC announced Friday that it will once again support the Kansas City-based grant contest, which has helped fuel 29 startups. It marks the fourth year that the MTC has funded the four-year-old competition, which holds a pitch event during Techweek Kansas City.
The organization is thrilled to earn the MTC’s enduring support, said Drew Solomon, chair of LaunchKC.
“This serves as a great vote of confidence in LaunchKC and the entrepreneurial community in Kansas City,” said Solomon, Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City senior vice president of business and job development. “Right from our beginning in 2014, the MTC has been a stalwart supporter of LaunchKC and the innovative entrepreneurs who have leveraged our support into building their businesses in Kansas City.”
In 2017, LaunchKC awarded eight $50,000 non-dilutive grants to startups and a $100,000 grand prize to Cambrian Tech after a live pitch competition at Techweek Kansas City. In its first two years, LaunchKC awarded 10 startups 10 grants of $50,000 each. The competition has successfully attracted a handful of out-of-state firms to relocate to Kansas City but primarily has awarded its funds to startups in Kansas and Missouri.
LaunchKC has attracted nearly 1,500 applicants since its founding in 2014 by the EDCKC and Downtown Council of Kansas City, organizers said. In that time, it has awarded $1.5 million in grant awards to 29 early-stage firms, which also earn 12 months of free office space in downtown Kansas City, industry-specific mentorship and opportunities to meet and learn from entrepreneurial leaders around the metro.
While the MTC’s support continues, its future is unclear. After doling out an 85 percent budget cut to the economic development organization, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens’ office released a report suggesting the MTC’s existing programming be replaced with a privately-managed innovation fund.