By Sarah Mote
More support, and startup funding, are headed to Missouri’s innovators.
The Missouri Technology Corporation (MTC) has awarded more than $1 million in grant funding to support startups and entrepreneurship via its Missouri Entrepreneurial Capacity (MOBEC) program. Two Kansas City entrepreneurial support organizations — Digital Sandbox KC and LaunchKC — are among the seven statewide awardees, which will use the grants to advance technology, innovation and jobs in Missouri.
Sandbox’s MOBEC grant will drive more proof-of-concept project funding to KC’s early-stage startups to fuel innovation, generate additional investment and create jobs in our region.
“Funding at this very early-stage is mission critical for our entrepreneurs, their innovations and our region. The proof-of-concept funding provided by the Sandbox helps these startups survive the ‘valley of death,” that period before these ventures generate revenue, so that they can go on to build traction and seek additional investment,” says Jill Meyer, senior director of the Technology Venture Studio, which houses Digital Sandbox KC as well as other programs at the UMKC Innovation Center that support Kansas City’s tech ecosystem. Since its inception in 2013, the Sandbox has provided project-development funding for 160 area startups, which has spurred more than $150 million in total follow-on funding.
LaunchKC will use its MOBEC grant to relaunch its popular grants competition, which will award 10 innovative, scalable, and job-creating startups with $50,000 non-dilutive grants as part of its mission to attract companies to create more jobs and opportunities and grow Kansas City’s local economy.
“We are grateful for MTC’s continued partnership and support of Kansas City’s entrepreneurs,” adds Meyer. “This additional funding for Digital Sandbox KC along with the MOBEC award to LaunchKC to relaunch its grant competition, will allow the tech ecosystem here in Kansas City to really put the foot on the gas to fund, support and fuel more KC innovations.”
Additional MOBEC grantees include MOSourceLink, which serves entrepreneurs and business owners across Missouri; Arch Grants and ITEN, which support startups and innovation in and around St. Louis; and Codefi Rural Foundation and efactory, which serve rural entrepreneurs across southern Missouri.
“Entrepreneurial support organizations are responsible for providing the resources entrepreneurs need to grow their businesses in Missouri, and MTC is proud to support them,” says Jack Scatizzi, MTC’s executive director. “Financial support for these organizations is integral to ensuring the state’s innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems are maximizing their economic development impact.”
To date, through MOBEC and other grant programs, MTC has partnered with more than 60 entrepreneurial support organizations in Missouri communities. MTC has also awarded a total of nearly $30 million in entrepreneurial-focused grants that have served thousands of small businesses.
In addition to providing grants to expand entrepreneurial capacity, MTC manages a state-sponsored venture capital fund that supports Missouri's early-stage entrepreneurs through direct investment. In the last decade, MTC has invested $45 million in more than 140 high-growth Missouri technology companies. These companies have also raised more than $1.1 billion in additional private capital.