Pipeline will give annual entrepreneur awards

Pipeline, a network of Midwest entrepreneurs, will name its Innovator of the Year and other award winners Thursday at its ninth annual gala.

The awards dinner will cap the daylong event, which will start with pitches by the organization’s 2015 group of entrepreneurial fellows. The organization offers about a dozen leadership development fellowships a year, and those budding business leaders then add to the Pipeline network.

The gala dinner is sold out, but Joni Cobb, Pipeline’s chief executive officer, encourages anyone interested in entrepreneurship to stop by during the day to hear some of the pitches. Those presentations will run from 9 a.m. to around 4:30 p.m. at the Alamo Drafthouse in downtown Kansas City.

Admission to the pitches is free, but people interested in attending should email in advance.

For the first time, pitches also will be made by collegiate entrepreneurs from the Universities of Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska and Washington University.

“We want to engage the local community,” Cobb said. “We’re a regional organization, but this event draws from all over — Silicon Valley, Chicago, Austin. It’s a great opportunity to connect.”

The Pipeline Entrepreneurial Fellowship program began in 2006. A 2010 grant from the Kauffman Foundation enabled Pipeline to expand regionally.

Greg Hack: 816-234-4439, @GregHack