LaunchKC takes flight in KC’s thriving tech scene

Downtown Kansas City is the home of the state's newest economic development initiative, LaunchKC, which will be unveiled today at the Downtown Council's Annual Luncheon at the Kansas City Convention Center.

LaunchKC, a business model competition for tech startup firms, will be introduced at noon Friday, Jan. 9, by the Downtown Council (DTC) before a record 1,000 stakeholders at its Annual Luncheon in the Kansas City Convention Center.

LaunchKC is designed to attract tech entrepreneurs locally, regionally and nationally to apply and compete for up to 10 (ten) $50,000 non-dilutive grants, mentorship, transitional work space and other incentives. LaunchKC will select the top-scoring entrepreneurs and then support and assist them with coaching, mentoring and funding to develop high growth, successful businesses in Kansas City, Missouri.

“We are delighted to announce LaunchKC,” said Bill Dietrich, president & CEO of the Downtown Council and chief administrative officer of LaunchKC. “It will serve as a nonprofit civic engine and accelerator in the Kansas City tech scene.”

Today’s milestone news is possible thanks to assistance from the Missouri Technology Corp. (MTC), the City of Kansas City, Missouri, the William T. Kemper Foundation, Lead Bank, UMB Bank, Kansas City Power & Light, Polsinelli LLC, Sprint, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Think Big Partners and other local partners.

LaunchKC is an economic development initiative of the Downtown Council, working in partnership with the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City. It stems from Mayor Sly James’ bi-state innovation initiative that was established two years ago.

The new effort is funded initially by a $250,000 grant from the MTC, and matched by another $250,000-plus from corporate, public and philanthropic supporters.

“Entrepreneurship is vital to growing Missouri’s economy. These are the folks that are changing and sculpting our world as well as creating jobs in our communities,” said Mike Downing, director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development. “Our investment will assist in attracting talent and ideas to the state as well as add to the abundant resources and supportive infrastructure that fosters growth in the entrepreneurial community.”

“LaunchKC’s objective is to create a more robust startup culture and infrastructure in Kansas City, Missouri,” Dietrich said. “This will strengthen our growing Innovation District in Downtown, where investors, inventors and entrepreneurs collaborate within a livable, walkable and transit-connected urban center.

The concentration of more than 400 “brain-powered” businesses in greater Downtown today provides a fertile foundation for germinating new ideas and launching innovative businesses. The density of this tech district is an economic game-changer destined to create jobs, attract talent, unlock value and engage private investment in Downtown.

The application process for the first class of LaunchKC grantees is due to begin on March 31. A team of LaunchKC grant reviewers will narrow the list of qualified applications over two months this summer. The selection of the grant recipients will be managed by a local/national judging panel of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, and announced in mid-September.

The website will serve as the gateway for the application process. Applicants will be able to apply online through I-Start and SharePoint software that has been donated and modified for LaunchKC by the Kauffman Foundation and Sprint.

Entrepreneurs will be drawn to the competition by:

  • Up to 10 (ten) $50,000 non-dilutive cash grants
  • Free transitional work space for 12 months
  • Industry-specific mentor pools for each of the grant recipients
  • Personal and group interactions with entrepreneurs, business leaders, investors, legal experts, venture capitalists and more.

LaunchKC will focus on business models in scalable, vertical sectors where Kansas City already has considerable expertise, such as Advanced Manufacturing, Agriculture, Animal Health, Big Data, Cloud Services, Data Analytics, Financial Tech, Health Tech, Mobile and Real Estate.

—– * @godowntownkc

 LaunchKC is an initiative of the Downtown Council of Kansas City

d/b/a Downtown Kansas City Civic Ventures, a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation.

 For more information on LaunchKC, visit or contact Mike Hurd, director of marketing for the Downtown Council and LaunchKC at