Kansas City now has a new sandbox to play in.
Digital Sandbox KC on Tuesday announced the launch of Energy Sandbox. Similar to Digital Sandbox, Energy Sandbox aims to provide proof-of-concept resources to early-stage entrepreneurs — but this time, it will be for startups in the energy sector, rather than tech.
Energy Sandbox will partner with energy investor GXP Investments for program funding. GXP is the non-regulated investment affiliate of Great Plains Energy Inc., which is the holding company of Kansas City Power & Light Co. and KCP&L Greater Missouri Operations Company. The investment arm is focused on investments that are adjacent to Great Plains Energy’s core utility operations.
The partnership will foster more innovation in the area, said Digital Sandbox director Jeff Shackelford.
“[The partnership] expands on the success of Digital Sandbox by focusing on early-stage entrepreneurs in a new market sector – energy,” Shackelford said. “We hope to launch the program, bring on additional Kansas City corporate partners and position Kansas City as a focal point for new, innovative energy-focused entrepreneurs. It will stimulate even more volume of early-stage companies in Kansas City and engage the strongest players in the energy space, like GXP Investments.”
Shackelford said applicants can receive up to $25,000 in non-dilutive project development funding. Energy Sandbox hopes to fund three to five early-stage energy entrepreneurs in the next six to eight months, he said. The program also will connect entrepreneurs with corporate and business-building resources.
It’s Digital Sandbox’s track record in helping tech entrepreneurs that’s opened the door to expanding to energy, Shackelford said.
“GXP Investments saw the success of Digital Sandbox and approached us about doing something similar focusing on the energy sector,” he said. “We’re looking for all ideas that touch the energy world – energy management, energy conservation, infrastructure, alternative energy solutions, energy security, etc. We have many outstanding companies who’s businesses involve and touch the energy sector and we need to tap that intelligence and those resources.”
Energy Sandbox applications open July 1 for entrepreneurs in the Great Plains Energy Service area, which spans western Missouri and eastern Kansas. Similar to Digital Sandbox KC, applications for Energy Sandbox are on a rolling basis with selection cycles running eight weeks.