LaunchKC applications now open to innovators around the globe

In Entrepreneurs, KC News, Technology by EDCKC Staff

After roughly 500 applicants swarmed to the opportunity in its inaugural year, Kansas City’s popular grant competition, LaunchKC is back for more in 2016.

Applications are now open to the global grants contest, which will dish out another $500,000 — via 10, $50,000 non-dilutive grants — to tech entrepreneurs around the world. The competition made a successful splash during the first  Techweek Kansas City conference in September 2015, compelling LaunchKC officials to offer another series of grants.

But arguably the true winner of the LaunchKC competition is Kansas City itself. The program last year not only garnered international attention but also helped Kansas City create more quality, high-paying jobs in the area’s burgeoning tech industry.

The Brookings Institute reported that for each new, high-tech job created in a metropolitan area, five additional local jobs are created outside of technology in subsequent years. For example, two of the jobs created by the multiplier effect tend to be professional jobs — such as doctors and lawyers — while the other three benefit workers in nonprofessional occupations — such as waiters and store clerks.

In other words, the LaunchKC ripple effect will extend well beyond the program’s initial years, cultivating economic vibrancy and attracting startups from around the world. If each LaunchKC winner were to add only one tech position in Kansas City as a result of its funding, the area will be creating around 50 new jobs in the long term.

Kansas City Mayor Sly James recently offered his endorsement of the competition during his 2016 State of the City address, saying it’s an important part of our city’s future. “We strongly support programs like LaunchKC,” James said. “Last year, the first ten LaunchKC recipients received a half million dollars — $50,000 dollars each — by winning a business competition that drew applicants from around the world. And we’re not stopping. Applications for 2016 will be accepted beginning this Friday. We look forward to Techweek in September when 10 more grants will be awarded.”

The LaunchKC team ventured to Austin, Texas, in March to promote the competition at the innovation conference South by Southwest (SXSW). Drew Solomon, who is leading the grant competition efforts, said LaunchKC’s presence at the tech conference in 2015 helped attract dozens of applicants to this year’s event.

In addition to a $50,000 grant, a winning entrepreneur receives a bevy of benefits. Entrepreneurs can also tap: free office space in the KC Innovation Space for one year; industry-specific mentor teams; and professional services, including legal, financial, marketing and more benefits.

The Downtown Council — along with UMB Bank, the William T. Kemper Foundation, the City of Kansas City, the Missouri Technology Corporation, the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City, and Techweek — led the list of partners that underwrite LaunchKC.

Winners of the 2015 LaunchKC grants were: Blooom, Health ID, Integrated Roadways, KC Drone Company, Nodal Security, PopBookings, Pycno, SquareOffs, Vertisense and VideoFizz.

Here are some important dates to remember:

  1. Applications close at midnight, Wednesday, July 6
  2. Application review process by panel of experts begins immediately
  3. Narrow list of applicants to 20 finalists by Friday, Aug. 19
  4. LaunchKC judging at Techweek Kansas City on Sept. 15 and 16

To learn more about LaunchKC, or to apply for a LaunchKC grant, visit


LaunchKC is designed to attract tech entrepreneurs locally, regionally and nationally to apply and compete for 10 (ten) $50,000 non-dilutive grants, mentorship, transitional workspace and other incentives. LaunchKC selects the top-scoring entrepreneurs and then supports and assists them with coaching, mentoring and funding to develop high growth, successful businesses in Kansas City, Missouri.