LaunchKC opens 2017 grants application window today

LaunchKC, the global grants competition for tech entrepreneurs, will begin accepting applications today, Wednesday, March 1, for its third annual event – this year featuring a $100,000 grand prize grant.

LaunchKC has awarded $1 million to 20 entrepreneurs – from six states and three nations – via $50,000 grants in its first two years of competitions. The 2017 race will feature another $500,000 grant pool that will be awarded in September to the judges’ selection of the top nine applicants – including one $100,000 grand prize grant recipient, along with eight $50,000 grant winners.

The introduction of a $100,000 grant prize was announced early this year by Rachel Merlo, chair of the LaunchKC Steering Committee and community manager of Google Fiber in Kansas City. The announcement came at the Downtown Council’s Annual Luncheon on Jan. 27 before 1,000 business, civic and community leaders, as well as at a special LaunchKC Kickoff Celebration on Feb. 1 before 150 sponsors, former grant recipients and leaders in the KC tech space.

“The third LaunchKC competition provided us with the opportunity to introduce a grand prize in 2017,” said Drew Solomon, who chairs the competition for LaunchKC. “We believe the $100,000 grand prize will pique interest and applications from top tech entrepreneurs throughout the nation.”

The application window opens at 8 a.m. (CDT) today, Wednesday, March 1 and will remain open until 11:59 p.m. Friday, July 7. The online application will be available via the website at

“We are continuing to search for the best and brightest startups or early stage technology businesses to apply and compete for $500,000 in grants,” said Mike Hurd, the marketing officer for LaunchKC. “We want to help these entrepreneurs make their business dreams come true in Kansas City, Missouri.”

LaunchKC is committed to elevating KC’s brand as an innovation leader nationally by investing in scalable vertical sectors like Advanced Manufacturing, Animal Health, Cloud Services, Data Analytics, EdTech, FinTech, HealthTech, Mobile and Real Estate Tech.

The 120-plus-day application window for the competition begins at 8 a.m. Friday, said Mike Hurd, marketing officer for LaunchKC. Applicants will be competing for $500,000 in grants – including a new grand prize grant of $100,000; free office space in the KC innovation space for one year; industry-specific mentor teams; and professional services, i.e., legal, financial, marketing, and more benefits. The application window will remain open until midnight on July 7.

“Our goal for 2017 is to raise the bar in our search for the best applicants, the most promising start-up businesses,” Hurd said. “Our focus is on tech-powered businesses and ideas that are poised for sustainable growth.”

LaunchKC selected its first class of 10 entrepreneurs, during the Techweek Kansas City conference in September 2015. The grant recipients included Blooom, Health ID, Integrated Roadways, KC Drone Company, Nodal Security, PopBookings, Pycno, Square Offs, Vertisense and VideoFizz.

The second cohort of 10 startups were selected at Techweek KC in September 2016, and included Big Bang. BLITAB, Consult US, FEWDM, Forest Devices, Labor Chart, Mobility Designed, Mycroft, Perfect Cube and Super Dispatch.

LaunchKC is powered by the Downtown Council of Kansas City, in collaboration with the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City.

It is fueled and inspired by a growing team of sponsors that features the Missouri Technology Corporation, the City of Kansas City, Missouri, the William T. Kemper Foundation, Techweek, the Cordish Companies, UMB Bank, DSI, Burns & McDonnell, Kansas City Power & Light, Lead Bank, Missouri Department of Economic Development, Google Fiber, Husch Blackwell, Polsinelli, Lathrop & Gage and J.E. Dunn Construction.


LaunchKC has adopted the following calendar of key 2017 dates in preparation for the thorough application review and judging process. The countdown begins tomorrow:

06:    Application window opens at 8 a.m. Wednesday, March 1

05:    National call for applicants is set for SxSW in Austin, Texas on Sunday, March 12

04:    Application window closes at 11:59 p.m. Friday, July 7

03:    Application review process by panel of experts begins immediately after July 7

02:    Narrow list of applicants to 20 finalists by Thursday, Aug. 24

01:    Selection of 9 grant recipients – including the $100,000 grand prize – following presentations by all finalists at Techweek Kansas City on Friday, Sept. 15.

Visit, and learn how LaunchKC is turning ideas into dreams come true.