The popular grants competition LaunchKC again was met with an enthusiastic response by applicants.
The competition — which will distribute $500,000 via 10, $50,000 non-dilutive grants — drew more than 400 tech startup applicants for the second year in a row. A panel of judges are now combing through the applications to find the top 20 applicants that will pitch their firms in September during a live presentation at Techweek KC. The grant competition is led by the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City and the Downtown Council of Kansas City.
Mike Hurd, director of marketing for the Downtown Council and LaunchKC, said that the contest culled a variety of businesses from around the U.S.
“This year’s competition attracted a diverse group of applicants, many of them already up-and-coming tech entrepreneurs who are looking to bring their startups to downtown Kansas City,” he said in a recent blog by the EDCKC. “We started the competition to attract the best and brightest entrepreneurs to Kansas City. … We want to provide them with incentives and tools to give them a leg-up in building the business of their dreams here.”
The EDCKC said that the quality of the applicants are “significantly stronger” than the 2015 competition. The organization is eager to see more new companies add not only more jobs to the area economy, but also to the vibrant culture in downtown Kansas City.
In addition to a $50,000 grant, a winning entrepreneur receives other benefits, including free office space for one year; industry-specific mentors; and professional services in areas such as legal, financial, and marketing.
LaunchKC announced the 2015 winners of the grants during the first Techweek Kansas City last September. The 2016 competition will follow a similar judging process. On July 7, officials began evaluating applications and will narrow that list to 20 finalists by Aug. 19. The 20 finalists will advance to the Techweek Kansas City conference, where they will compete before a panel of judges and conference attendees. Judges will select and introduce the 10 grant recipients at Techweek KC on Sept. 16.
“When the finalists stand before the judges and audience in September, we want them to articulate why and how they are prepared to build strong and sustainable businesses in Kansas City,” Hurd told the EDCKC. “We are not only in search of tomorrow’s business leaders, we are also looking for the next Cerner or Garmin to call Kansas City home.”
Winners of the 2015 LaunchKC grants were: Blooom, Integrated Roadways, KC Drone Company, Nodal Security, Health ID, PopBookings, Pycno, SquareOffs, Vertisense and VideoFizz.