Prepare for Liftoff, Early-Stage Startups: LaunchKC’s $50K Grants Competition Is Back!

Prepare for Liftoff, Early-Stage Startups: LaunchKC’s $50K Grants Competition Is Back!

After a four-year hiatus, LaunchKC, co-founded by The Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City, Missouri and Downtown Council, is bringing back its signature grants competition. The nonprofit’s cornerstone program aims to create a stronger entrepreneurial ecosystem in KC by providing grants, networking opportunities and business support to early-stage tech companies.

“We know that a healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem is vital to any successful city,” said Jim Erickson, EDCKC director of strategic initiatives. “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.”

Starting Aug. 15 through Sept. 9, LaunchKC will conduct a nationwide search for innovative and diverse early-stage startups looking to scale their businesses. Eight startups will receive $50,000 grants and 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.

“Our return on investment is the success and growth of our portfolio companies and their impact on the Kansas City region,” said Tommy Wilson, Downtown Council director of business recruitment.

Qualified applicants will have their applications evaluated by a panel of reviewers comprised of LaunchKC staff, industry experts, entrepreneurs, past grant recipients and business leaders. Reviewers will narrow the pool of applicants through three rounds of judging. In the final round, approximately 20 applicants will participate in in-person interviews, and of those 20, eight will be selected to receive funding and business support.

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.

LaunchKC has funded 38 companies since the first grants competition in 2015. Of those companies, 33 are still active, with 61% of those maintaining 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% of companies who have participated in LaunchKC programming are women and/or minority-led.

For information about LaunchKC, visit

Digital Sandbox KC accepts new applications on a rolling basis and funds projects every quarter.  Visit for more information and to submit an idea.

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Photo courtesy Bill Jelen via UnSplash.