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UMKC-led group lands $1 million grant to foster growth of tech startups

The U.S. Department of Commerce today announced a $1 million grant to fund the creation of a proof of concept center, known as “the Digital Sandbox,” that seeks to spur the development of technology startups in the Kansas City area.

Led by the University of Missouri-Kansas City‘s Innovation Center and backed by a consortium of other academic, corporate, nonprofit and civic entities, the Digital Sandbox will endeavor to produce at least 10 new high-growth companies that raise follow-on funding or generate $1 million in revenues within two years of the program’s launch.

The grant for the Digital Sandbox was one of seven awarded nationwide as part of the i6 challenge, a federal grant competition to encourage and reward innovative, groundbreaking ideas that accelerate technology commercialization, new venture formation, job creation and economic growth. 

“This grant reinforces Kansas City’s position as ‘America’s Most Entrepreneurial City’ and the key role that the Innovation Center and UMKC play in achieving and maintaining that status,” UMKC Chancellor Leo E. Morton (left) said in a press release.

Per that release, the Digital Sandbox addresses two gaps in Kansas City’s entrepreneurial landscape: “connecting large industry to the entrepreneurial and university research networks; and providing access to early-stage proof of concept support.”

The Digital Sandbox will provide a central meeting place and necessary technological infrastructure and invite established companies, startups and entrepreneurs to come “play in the sandbox” together, ideally accelerating the commercialization of new ideas in the process.

Details on eligibility requirements and the application process for the Digital Sandbox will be announced soon.

Early stage proof of concept development will be supported by a $500,000 grant from the Missouri Technology Corporation (MTC), a nonprofit corporation established to promote entrepreneurship in Missouri and foster the growth of emerging high-tech companies.


Credits: i6 challenge logo from eda.govPhoto of Morton from umkc.edu.

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