Frequently Asked Questions


John Martellaro
Director, Media Relations
Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications
University of Missouri-Kansas City
Office: 816-235-1592
Mobile: 816-695-5311
[email protected]

Digital Sandbox KC is an innovative approach to connecting Kansas City’s corporate community to entrepreneurs and early-stage companies. Digital Sandbox KC was designed to address two immediate gaps in the entrepreneurial ecosystem: connecting large industry to entrepreneurial and university research networks and providing technical assistance for early-stage concept development.

Digital Sandbox KC provides proof-of-concept resources to support early-stage commercialization processes including access to technology, business and market experts and funding for early stage market validation, prototyping and beta testing services.

Digital Sandbox KC will not fund a business directly.  However, Digital Sandbox KC provides proof-of-concept resources to support early-stage commercialization processes.  The Sandbox may cover expenses for project personnel and consultants, market research, equipment and other market validation, prototyping and beta testing needs.

Since funds cannot go directly to a client business directly, approved projects are funded through a contract between Digital Sandbox KC and the project vendor selected by the client business.  Project vendors cannot have any ownership stake in the client company.

Digital Sandbox KC broadly seeks to serve new innovation in information technology.  As a frame of reference, past Sandbox client companies work within areas as diverse as mobile apps, big data, software platforms, tangible products, hardware, health care IT, and more.

The Digital Sandbox is best positioned to help companies that:

  • Have a significant IT/digital component
  • Have disruptive technologies/clear competitive advantages
  • Are building platform technologies, enabling the development of future products and processes
  • Are local and plan to stay local
  • Have strong, clearly defined management teams
  • Are not already in the marketplace
  • Need first in funding
  • Have a project of some sort standing between them and key investors or customers

We will broadly accept any innovation in information technology. When in doubt, submit your idea.

The Digital Sandbox KC project funding process requires:

  1. Submit a company profile using the online application.
  2. A meeting/pitch evaluation
  3. A board vote

To proceed with funding requests, you’ll need to complete a company profile using the online application.

Please keep in mind that this company profile will be viewed by those evaluating your submission, those participating in your meeting/pitch, and by the board for voting purposes.

Once we’ve received your company profile, we’ll review it for completeness and then send you information regarding timing and next steps.

Projects will be monitored for milestone progress and the Digital Sandbox KC team will make introductions to follow-on funders and potential customers when appropriate.  Digital Sandbox KC and partners will remain involved and will provide continuing mentorship and guidance to ensure the project meets its milestones, primed and ready for commercial success.

Digital Sandbox KC interconnects many of these organizations and is pleased to partner with SparkLabKC, BetaBlox, Think Big Partners, Enterprise Center of Johnson County, and others.  Many of these partners are part of the selection team, bringing visibility of applications to many groups around the community at one time.

We hope that applicants will take advantage of all local accelerators, incubators and other resources before, during and after participating in the sandbox.

Proof of concept centers, accelerators and incubators all have at heart the desire to help move technology toward commercialization with the result of creating businesses and jobs.  Incubators typically provide defined office space over a period of time in addition to mentoring and services. Local accelerators typically provide structured programs over a period of time leading to a defined graduation date.  Digital Sandbox KC will not provide structured office space and has no defined graduation point.  Additionally, Digital Sandbox does not accept or require equity in exchange for project funding and does not require the funding to be paid back.

Digital Sandbox KC does not invest directly in companies and therefore does not expect an ownership position.

The selection committee is made up of people who routinely evaluate businesses including and not limited to representation from our corporate partners, local angel groups and other investors, accelerators and incubators.  In addition, technology and industry market specialists will assist in evaluating submissions.  These people will be engaged depending on the nature of the project.

No.  You must submit the online application.  In many cases, the Executive Summary section of a business plan will contain nearly all of the required information on the application.

All applicants, whether chosen for project financing or not, will receive a response and recommendations for suggested organizations within the Digital Sandbox KC ecosystem for further support and development.

The goal of Digital Sandbox KC is to move companies toward achieving follow-on funding or revenues of $1 million.  Digital Sandbox KC provides assistance along the way to help companies meet these milestones.

Ideas from people and businesses based in Overland Park, Olathe and the Missouri portions of the 14-county Kansas City Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) are eligible to receive project financing. Until October 2022, Digital Sandbox KC is accepting ideas* being developed in response to COVID relief from the 22-county Combined Statistical Area (CSA).

Solutions in the following areas are strongly encouraged to apply:

  • Digital Equity
  • Education Technology
  • Health Technology

*All ideas, regardless of industry, are eligible so long as they fit within the parameters listed above.

Eligible applicants include emerging, startup and established companies. Research organizations and technology transfer offices, both corporate and academic, can also submit technologies for further development.

Digital Sandbox KC accepts applications on a rolling basis.  There is no deadline.

Client companies may receive a maximum of $20,000 in project financing.  In order to serve as many businesses as possible, project requests for specific amounts rather than defaulting to the maximum spend are preferred.

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