Ten young technology businesses will be coming to Kansas City under a startup program backed by state and private funding that organizers will announce Friday.
LaunchKC is a new business accelerator program from the Downtown Council working with the Economic Development Corp. of Kansas City.
Council officials will highlight the venture and make a related announcement at their annual lunch in the Kansas City Convention Center.
The accelerator joins other programs in the area that seek to bolster entrepreneurs with the hopes of expanding the local economy and creating jobs.
“LaunchKC’s objective is to create a more robust startup culture and infrastructure in Kansas City,” Bill Dietrich, president and chief executive of the Downtown Council, said in an announcement. “This will strengthen our growing innovation district in downtown, where investors, inventors and entrepreneurs collaborate within a livable, walkable and transit-connected urban center.”
Businesses will compete to join LaunchKC, with the final 10 announced in mid-September after a three-month screening process.
The lure for companies includes $50,000 in funding that comes as a grant. Entrepreneurs won’t have to surrender any ownership of their companies to receive financial backing. Free business space for a year and access to industry expertise and mentors round out the package.
Companies that enter the program must commit to maintain operations within the city for two years. LaunchKC also will line up sessions for the companies to pitch potential backers. Applications are available online and open March 31 to ventures locally, regionally and nationally.
Financial support for LaunchKC began last summer with a $250,000 grant from the Missouri Technology Corp.
“Entrepreneurship is vital to growing Missouri’s economy. These are the folks that are changing and sculpting our world as well as creating jobs in our communities,” Mike Downing, director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development, said in the announcement.
The state has provided funding to a similar 3-year-old program in St. Louis called Arch Grants, and the LaunchKC accelerator is benefiting from its experience.
“We’re able to follow a blueprint with lessons learned,” said Downtown Council marketing director Mike Hurd.
Kansas City and several corporate, public and philanthropic donors matched the state grant to boost the program to $500,000.
ThinkBig Partners and Lead Bank are providing free space on Main Street for the businesses to work in for a year. Others providing support include the William T. Kemper Foundation, UMB Bank, Kansas City Power & Light, Polsinelli LLC, Sprint and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
LaunchKC seeks technology companies that fit into industries in which Kansas City offers expertise such as advanced manufacturing, agriculture, animal health, big data, cloud services, data analytics, financial technology, health technology and real estate.
Other events scheduled for the council’s lunch include presentations of awards, a tribute to the late J. Philip Kirk Jr. and a keynote address from Leigh Gallagher, an editor at Fortune and author of “The End of the Suburbs: Where the American Dream Is Moving.”