A new accelerator in Kansas City is planning to spur change at a global scale through its inaugural cohort of mission-driven organizations.
The Novel City Chamber of Innovation announced this week it has launched the Novel City Ventures Accelerator to fuel the next wave of disruptive thinkers and entrepreneurs.
Beginning on Oct. 23, the 12-week program welcomes 12 startups and 12 community organizations to focus on how to “eradicate the social and budgetary barriers that exist within their own communities,” said Kansas City business veteran Jabbar Wesley, who serves as executive director of the Novel City Chamber of Innovation.
In addition to eliminating barriers, the program aims to cultivate problem-solving skills that help participants think strategically about social, economic and global problems.
“Launching the Novel City Ventures program in Kansas City provides the participants and Novel City founding members the ability to enact change where it’s needed most,” Wesley said. “Kansas City is akin to a series of cities within a city. By bringing community and company leaders together, the Novel City Ventures program will break down socio-economic barriers and establish much-needed communication channels to prepare Kansas City and the Midwest for the future of entrepreneurial problem-solving.”
The mission of the Novel City Ventures program is to create empirical data-driven frameworks and projects for three types of founders. The program’s trio of builders will include “innovators, innovation ecosystem developers and innovation subject matter experts.”
It has three main goals, Wesley said:
- Improve the climate and remove demographic and economic barriers for minority innovators seeking capacity building resources in Kansas City;
- Establish Novel City Chamber of Innovation in Kansas City as a historic, iconic, economic engine and driver of innovation-based economic growth, attraction, retention and development of world-class innovation management talent and significant job creation; and
- Increase Novel City’s capacity to be a collaborative catalytic venture development organization that compliments existing KC-based entrepreneurship and innovation resource networks.
Cohort participants will have access to a customized learning module and app that will provide them a structure and accountability throughout the program. Upon completion of the course, participants will be given the Novel City Ventures Certification as well as inducted into the program’s alumni network to create a powerful community and enduring commitment to drive social change.
Wesley emphasized the cohort’s approach and innovation accelerator framework, he said, noting its proprietary “NOVELOPMENT CYCLE” training model differentiates itself from other accelerator/incubator models by taking the cohort through 12 sessions that thoroughly cover topics ranging from needs assessment to learning about innovation sustainability and best strategies for exit strategies.
“We are also excited about the makeup of our cohort, which will consist of innovators in artificial intelligence tech, media and other non-tech entrepreneurs with a need for innovative solutions to scale their companies,” Wesley said. “The accelerator content, framework and experience will also help position these innovators as innovation thought leaders as the accelerator doubles as an innovation management certification.”
The cohort is expected to include 12 innovation ecosystem developers who are representatives of community organizations interested in making a collective impact via innovative collaboration, he said. The combination of having these two types of innovators in the same learning environment will help realize catalytic synergies and an economic impact at a macro level, Wesley added.
“Our model also weaves artists and cultural innovation into our programming as we are simultaneously working on the production and release of the Novel City Life Volume 1 music compilation, which is a 12-song digital album featuring songs such as, ‘Came to Win,’ will take you through the mental mindset and emotional journey that innovators need and go through as they overcome challenges they face while building high impact innovations,” he said.
The featured artists are expected to be showcased along with the cohort members as they perform and pitch at a NovelFest Demo Day in May.
Novel City is among a handful of Kansas City accelerators supported by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. In 2017, the Kauffman Foundation awarded $840,000 in grants to eight local venture accelerator programs as part of its Zero Barriers movement, which is a national campaign to address barriers that entrepreneurs face.