Morning Scoop – Businesses step up in COVID-19 battle


from … The Morning Scoop – Downtown Council of KCMO, March 31, 2020

Hyleme George from Black & Veatch, left, discusses future opportunities with LaunchKC leaders Jim Malle and Tommy Wilson during the IgniteX accelerator Demo Day in November.

Black & Veatch, LaunchKC open COVID-19 grants competition

A newly announced grants competition could boost both the health of Kansas City’s startup community, as well as those affected by the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), according to Startland News.

“The Black & Veatch COVID-19 Response Accelerator is designed for growing companies looking to scale emerging solutions to save lives, help communities cope, and protect the economy,” the accelerator — an offshoot of Black & Veatch’s IgniteX program in partnership with LaunchKC — said Friday.

The opportunity is open to companies nationwide that can help reduce the severity of the coronavirus outbreak, but need help commercializing and rapidly deploying to fulfill a demonstrated and immediate market need, according to the Overland Park-based engineering firm.

The accelerator is grant-based with no equity transfer required, said Jim Malle, coordinator of entrepreneurship and industry initiatives for the Economic Development Corporation, which runs LaunchKC alongside the Downtown Council.

“A minimum of $250,000 in the pool as of right now,” Malle said. “Grants will vary pending the company, but our goal is a minimum of $25,000. A company could receive $100,000. It depends on the solution and technology.”

Click here to apply for the accelerator. Due to the nature of the pandemic, all work sessions will take place virtually, so there is no need to relocate.

“We are reviewing, judging and selecting in real-time to get cash into startups’ hands that have technology solutions to help stop the spread of the virus or have technology that could positively affect our situation,” Malle said.

The accelerator is open to financial contributions from other corporate partners or institutions that want to boost its impact on the fight against COVID-19, he added. Click here to read more.

Rightfully Sewn pivots to aid health workers

Rightfully Sewn, the Crossroads workshop for training seamstresses, has shifted from making fashion wear to producing protective masks for healthcare workers encountering shortfalls during the COVID-19 pandemic.

CityScene KC reports the nonprofit plans to make 20,000 fabric masks based, in part, on a pattern released by the Deaconess Health System of Evansville, Ind.

“The fabric mask will go on top of my N95,” said Dr. Rahul Kapur, a supporter of the Rightfully Sewn project. “If it gets soiled, I can get rid of the fabric mask rather than thrown away my N95.”

Jennifer Lapka, founder and president of Rightfully Sewn, said she reached out to several local hospitals after learning about the Deaconess program.

“North Kansas City already had published a pattern they wanted and the University of Kansas Health System and Truman Hospital said use whatever pattern you want.

“We have enough fabric to make 10,000 masks and our goal is to make 20,000 total.”

Those interested in supporting the effort can donate here. The Walsh Family Foundation is providing a dollar-for-dollar match for the first $15,000 raised.

Hospitals in need of masks can call 816-491-8136 or email

To read the complete story, stop by CityScene KC.