After a four-year hiatus, LaunchKC is officially set to bring back its signature grants competition. Early-stage tech companies will have the opportunity to each win $50,000 in non-dilutive grants, plus access to business support and networking.
Co-founded by the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City, Missouri, (EDCKC) and Downtown Council (DTC), the non-profit LaunchKC’s cornerstone program aims to create a stronger entrepreneurial ecosystem in Kansas City by providing grants, networking opportunities, and business support to early-stage tech companies, according to organizers.
“We know that a healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem is vital to any successful city,” said Jim Erickson, director of strategic initiatives for EDCKC. “Right now Kansas City needs to do more in this space and that is why LaunchKC is happy to take a leading role to provide much needed support to grow today’s early stage companies into the next generation of major employers for KC.”
News of the relaunch, first reported by Startland News in March, comes about four months after the Missouri Technology Corporation first announced it would provide an unspecified amount of funding to help revive the popular grants competition.
A nationwide search is expected to run Aug. 15 through Sept. 9 as LaunchKC recruits innovative and diverse early-stage startups looking to scale their businesses through the rebooted program.
Emphasis will be placed on tech companies with high-growth potential that prioritize equitable business practices and see Kansas City as an ideal home for their business. Finalists selected for the LaunchKC program will be notified in late October.
Eight $50,000 grants will be given out among eight startups that will also gain access to a host of support services — in exchange for headquartering their business in Kansas City, Missouri, for at least one year.
LaunchKC does not take equity in the companies.
Click here to learn more about LaunchKC.
“Our return on investment is the success and growth of our portfolio companies and their impact on the Kansas City region,” said Tommy Wilson, director of business recruitment for the Downtown Council.
Qualified applicants will have their applications evaluated by a panel of reviewers composed of LaunchKC staff, industry experts, entrepreneurs, past grant recipients, and business leaders, according to organizers. Reviewers will narrow the pool of applicants through three rounds of judging. In the final round, about 20 applicants are expected to participate in in-person interviews and of those 20, eight will be selected to receive funding and business support.
LaunchKC has funded 38 companies since the first grants competition was held in 2015. Of those companies, 33 are still active, with 61 percent of those choosing to maintain operations in Kansas City.
Collectively, LaunchKC companies have created more than 300 jobs in Missouri and attracted over $60 million in follow-on capital. In addition, 58 percent of companies who have participated in LaunchKC programming are women and/or minority-led.