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Paper explores assets, obstacles for KC entrepreneurial community

The Kansas City area in the last half-decade has seen increases in entrepreneurial exits, funding for young companies and collective energy behind entrepreneurship, a paper released earlier this month asserts, but obstacles still stand in the way of Kansas City’s entrepreneurial community moving from “fragmented to collaborative.”

The paper, “Entrepreneurial Community in Kansas City: From Fragmented to Collaborative?“, was written by Heike Mayer (left), a professor of economic geography University of Bern in Switzerland, with the backing of the Kansas City, Mo.-based Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

Mayer, who earlier this year released the book “Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Second Tier Regions,” has studied the entrepreneurial community in Kansas City — which she categorizes as one of those “second-tier regions” — since 2005. After doing extensive research and interviews from 2005-2007, she spent time this summer conducting additional in-depth interviews with a total of 20 entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and representatives of entrepreneurial support organizations. 

The paper released earlier this month shares Mayer’s findings from the most recent round of interviews, shedding light on the Kansas City entrepreneurial community’s strengths, shortcomings and potential courses of action. A few of Mayer’s key findings: 

  • “Large firms’ role as incubators of entrepreneurial startup companies seems to have diminished, and … there are weak connections between existing large firms and entrepreneurial ventures.”
  • “Entrepreneurial exits in the form of mergers and acquisitions have increased and a small number of cashed-out entrepreneurs are reinvesting their funds and becoming engaged.”
  • “The region’s entrepreneurial community does not exhibit strong networking and collaboration.”
  • “Although the availability of funding has increased, local entrepreneurs perceive the accessibility and availability of funds — and the capacity local venture investors bring to the table — as limiting factors.”
  • “The energy and collective effort to improve the Kansas City entrepreneurial community has increased and strengthened significantly since 2006 when a similar study was conducted.”

Mayer’s 39-page report is available in its entirety on the Kauffman Foundation’s website. She shares additional insights on Kansas City’s entrepreneurial community and the characteristics of entrepreneurial ecosystems in general in the video below, recorded during a presentation she gave in November at a Global Entrepreneurship Week event.

Mayer is currently spearheading an effort to map Kansas City’s high-tech clusters. Leaders of information technology, telecommunications, life sciences and other high-tech firms in Kansas City are invited to take the survey.


Credits: Photo of Mayer from heikemayer.com. Video from Kauffman Foundation on Livestream.