Student startups are growing rapidly on the University of Missouri-Kansas City campus, said Bryan Boots.
Such acceleration has been further propelled thanks to the recent distribution of $75,000 in prize money, awarded to a series of winners of the Regnier Venture Creation Challenge Competition May 2-3, split across events at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and UMKC.
“[The challenge is a chance to] support the students and see what the next generation of entrepreneurs in Kansas City are doing,” Boots said of the school’s mission to elevate young entrepreneurs and promote their ventures through real-world exposure, feedback, and financial support.
Divided into two categories — the primary Regnier Venture Creation Challenge track and the BlueKC Healthcare Innovation track, which celebrates innovation and community impact in healthcare — the competition’s main event produced six winners who run seed-stage or early growth startups.
Among the event’s top prizes, $20,000 winners included: Air Traffic Awareness, a product for reducing danger of in-air collisions for novice pilots; and BlueKC winner DeepLens, a computer vision product that helps blind people navigate the world around them.
“Winning the RVCC 2019 was a great thrill, but it’s not the end point; it’s the beginning. It was the result of many long nights of hard work toward creating a new technology to assist people who are visually impaired,” said Gharib Gharibi, DeepLens founder.
Other prize winners include: Blockchain Water, $10,000; DeltaTech, $5,000; Spatial Insights, $2,500; and Bionic Bowel, the second place BlueKC winner of $10,000.
“The RVCC truly expands the depth and breadth of students’ entrepreneurship experience and prepares them to become leading innovators,” Gharibi added.
Additionally, DeepLens took home one of two $500 prizes during the competition’s student expo, chosen by attendees.
Six-thousand dollars in speciality awards were handed out to startups delivering significant social impact and sound business plans, UMKC explained.
Beyond leadership skills, incorporating the BlueKC track into the competition helps students understand the community need for innovative products that create change, he noted.
Student entrepreneurs went through several competitions to land a spot in the challenge, Boots explained.
Click here to read about the Entrepreneur Quest accelerator and EQ Pitch Competition
Check out photos from UMKC’s May 2 student venture expo below.