A Kansas City program is making strides in its efforts to commercialize local, university-cultivated ideas.
In the past four years, KCSourceLink’s Whiteboard2Boardroom program helped create almost 100 jobs and facilitated the creation of 29 new startups, according to a recent progress report. Those companies also generated nearly $16 million in follow-on funding, helping to fuel job growth and the regional economy.
With several area success stories to boast, the program aims to accelerate the commercialization process for student-made innovation — which may have otherwise lived in academia forever. The program works with 13 higher education institutions in Kansas and Missouri, such as the University of Kansas and University of Missouri-Kansas City.
The most prominent example of a company that benefited from the program was biometrics firm EyeVerify, which in September sold to an affiliate of Alibaba for more than $100 million. Other companies that have participated in the program are Mobility Designed, PatientsVoices, Play-It Health and more than a dozen others.
In addition to education institutions, W2B also partners with several area corporations. When looking for innovations, Black & Veatch reached out to the program to assist with the launch of its new accelerator.
Conner Hazelrigg was a student at William Jewell College when she first invented the “Sunshine Box,” the innovation that led to the creation of her company 17° 73° Innovation Co., which tapped W2B. Similar to the connections it made for Hazelrigg, W2B connects entrepreneurs with technologies developed in local universities that are available for licensing.
For a yearly subscription, W2B’s Tech Alert System is available to entrepreneurs and corporations who are looking to bring new technology to market. Subscribers can select from a list of industry categories and find innovations that match their needs.
W2B director James Baxendale said he was particularly excited about how the Tech Alert System has advanced the program. W2B’s annual report showed that it has assisted 525 entrepreneurs between 2012 and 2016, offering them access more than 400 innovations.
Though a plethora of opportunities has been made available through the program, Baxendale said that he’d like to see more community members capitalize on the promising tech coming from universities.
“This program has provided me with the opportunity to meet a number of passionate and successful entrepreneurs, as well as experienced corporate executives,” Baxendale said. “But, I would like to see more entrepreneurs and corporations taking advantage of the opportunity we have presented.”