A Kansas City-area investor that was recently accepted into an esteemed venture capital fellowship in Silicon Valley hopes to leverage the program to better his hometown.
Keith Harrington, managing director at the Kansas Bioscience Authority, was accepted into the Kauffman Fellows program for venture capitalists. The program aims to enhance venture capitalists’ capabilities and grow their networks in the industry.
The only participant from the Kansas City area to be accepted — and the first in several years — Harrington said that he plans to apply the lessons he learns from the program to grow businesses in the Kansas City area.
“For me this is very exciting and incredibly humbling,” Harrington said. “I’ll have the opportunity to learn best practices in global venture capitalism and can bring those back to the Midwest and Kansas City in particular, where we lack available risk capital. Being able to bring best practices back to Kansas City, and raise the awareness of entrepreneurial community and the lack of capital will be a cool opportunity.”
Now in operation for more than 20 years, Kauffman Fellows latest class welcomed venture capitalists from such locales as Israel, Dubai, Brazil, Japan, the U.K., and others. The program, based in Silicon Valley, is now hosting some of the most prominent VC funds and investors in the country to serve as mentors, including Brad Feld of Foundry Group, Jason Green of Emergence Capital, Mattias Ljungman of Atomico and many others.
“This class reflects the excitement and the pace of change in the global innovation ecosystem,” Kauffman Fellows CEO Phil Wickham said in a release. “The diversity of this class reflects the modern entrepreneurial mindset.”
Harrington said that in addition to helping his hometown, he’s looking forward to further honing his skills.
“For me this is about becoming a better, more effective investor,” he said. “Through my work and my involvement in the program, I hope to be able to raise the profile of Kansas City entrepreneurs among a network of global VCs, and to help local startups gain access to smart, connected capital.”
The future of Harrington’s organization, the Kansas Bioscience Authority, currently is in limbo after recent Kansas budget cuts. A bill that eventually died in Kansas Legislature would have effectively dissolved the KBA, however the state must still trim millions of dollars from its budget. The KBA’s budget will likely be reduced at least 80 percent annually, from $35 million to about $7 million for 2016 and 2017, according to the Kansas City Business Journal.