A key funder of initiatives like Digital Sandbox KC and LaunchKC could see its own fortunes rise if Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signs a budget that includes $31 million to boost technology, entrepreneurship and innovation efforts in the state.
The Missouri legislature last week passed a budget that would dramatically up the Missouri Technology Corporation’s budget from just $3 million allocated this year to $31 million in fiscal year 2023. (The state organization, which supports startups through direct co-investments and a matching grant program, saw its entire budget surrendered in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic hit Missouri’s bottom line.)
Click here to read more about MTC’s impact on Kansas City and Missouri startups.
If signed by the governor, the $31 million in funding for MTC would surpass highs of $17 million in 2016 and $24 million in 2017 — before then-Gov. Eric Greitens began a rapid decline in financial backing for the effort.
Click here to view the budget bill passed May 13 by the Missouri General Assembly.
Parson’s original 2023 budget proposal offered a more modest increase to $4 million.
The governor’s office and MTC officials declined to comment specifically on the still-pending budget item, and Parson has not signaled when he will address the full budget (the new fiscal year begins July 1, so the clock is ticking). MTC leaders, however, noted funding would be used to execute a new strategic plan announced in February.
“MTC has been intentional about engaging the community, building innovation infrastructure, and formulating the strategic innovation framework as a lens for the future,” said Dr. Dedric Carter, chairman of MTC. “The broad participation in the recently released Catalyzing Innovation report is a strong organizational foundation that positions MTC well for support. We are thankful for the recognition of this foundational work.”
The Catalyzing Innovation Strategies for Missouri to Drive Innovation and Entrepreneurship Report was informed by a six-month planning process with input from more than 500 individuals across the state, according to MTC.
Its findings included 16 actions to address challenges facing Missouri’s innovation and entrepreneurship communities:
- Catalyze additional investment capital funds across the capital stack.
- Incentivize angel investments.
- Evaluate the creation of Missouri Rural Vitality Funds to provide collateral for entrepreneurial loans.
- Develop a statewide Entrepreneurial Pathways Program.
- Foster regional efforts to provide quality entrepreneurial support services to high-potential, high-growth, traded-sector startups.
- Connect Missouri’s corporate partners and anchor institutions with startups, thereby creating a “stickiness” to Missouri for the entrepreneurial endeavor’s ultimate success.
- Reenergize the Research Alliance of Missouri (RAM) as a mechanism for bringing together the major research institutions of the state to solve common innovation continuum challenges.
- Leverage the federal I-Corps program and provide startup services statewide to encourage commercialization activity.
- Provide comprehensive assistance for SBIR/STTR awards to further drive commercialization across the state, especially at Missouri’s research institutions.
- Improve access to entrepreneurial programming for students in middle/high school and at community colleges and universities.
- Fund an internship program that connects startups with talent.
- Offer entrepreneurial education across Missouri through regional partnerships.
- Enhance Missouri’s storytelling capacity to encourage more Missourians to be entrepreneurial.
- Realize One Missouri: Improve connectivity within and between regions.
- Link Missouri’s innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem to the world through an external marketing campaign.
- Deploy broadband infrastructure across Missouri.
Click here to read the full report with more details about these solutions.
A hefty funding increase could help fuel MTC’s goals toward tackling such challenges, indicated Jack Scatizzi, executive director of MTC, said in a statement to the media.
“MTC is excited by the opportunity afforded in the fiscal year 2023 budget passed by the Missouri General Assembly,” Scatizzi said. “The organization looks forward to leveraging the funding to launch initiatives aligned with the recommendations outlined in the Catalyzing Innovation Strategies for Missouri to Drive Innovation and Entrepreneurship Report released by MTC in February. These initiatives will serve as foundational elements as MTC seeks to generate the maximum economic development impact from Missouri’s entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem.”
Click here to explore more about the Missouri Technology Corporation.