KCSourceLink and partners call for new effort to fund startups


Kansas City has a longstanding gap in an otherwise-solid support structure for entrepreneurship: investment dollars.

KCSourceLink, a program of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Innovation Center, has worked with key partners to craft an action plan to address that gap – and issued a call to action for the community to execute that plan.

“We Create Capital: Financing Startup and Early-Stage Companies in the Kansas City Region” is the title of the research-driven study and plan presented June 1 at a luncheon at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The Kauffman Foundation and the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce worked with KC SourceLink to create the plan.

Maria Meyers, founder of KCSourceLink, presented the research findings and plan. She said Kansas City trails many other communities in terms of making investment dollars available to entrepreneurs, via loans, private investment and grants. Greater Kansas City is not tapping available federal and state entrepreneurship grants, and trails competing metros in pulling together private investment. The region is lacking in microloans, seed capital and locally-based venture capital firms.

“Folks, we’re leaving a lot of money on the table here,” Meyers told an audience of bankers, educators, public officials and chamber members.

“We’ve been talking about capital for 12 years now, and I truly hope that we can come together and make sure tomorrow does not look exactly like today.”

A complete copy of the report and recommended action steps is available at www.wecreatekc.com.

Meyers said the action steps needed to improve the situation are clear. Kansas City needs to strengthen its funding infrastructure, build the experience needed to pursue federal funding and connect investors with entrepreneurs and with other investors.

“We have an issue here of our community and our investors not being well connected with each other,” Meyers said.

“We Create Capital” sets out four bold actions that, if embraced by the community, can drive significant dollars to support startups.

  • Increase the availability of alternative loan funds from $3 million to $10 million by 2020
  • Increase local, state and federal grant funding to early-stage and R&D focused businesses from $2.6 million to $6 million by 2020
  • Increase seed capital investments from $2.9 million to $10 million per year by 2020
  • Double the number of venture capital investments of $1-10 million in the Kansas City region by 2020

Terry Dunn, chairman of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce; and Matt Condon, “Champion” of the Chamber’s Big 5 entrepreneurship initiative, joined Meyers at the event. They called for individual, corporate and foundation investors to coalesce around the existing Flyover Capital fund, now at $43 million, and to create a new fund with $50 million available for venture capital investment. The plan also calls for recruiting regional offices for at least two venture capital firms headquartered outside of Kansas City.

“I truly believe that June 1, 2015, is a pivot point for our community,” Condon said. Citing successful entrepreneurs from previous generations such as Henry Bloch, Barnett Helzberg, James Stowers and Ewing Kauffman, Condon said the community has been “drinking from the wells” dug by previous generations.

“It is time for us to dig the wells that future generations will drink from.”

The Years Add Up

Retiring accounting professor looks back fondly on 44 years of service.


We recently sat down with LaVern “Howie” Krueger — Dr. K, as his students affectionately call him — to reminisce about his years at UMKC. Krueger, who joined UMKC in 1970 as an assistant professor, has seen the Bloch School thrive. During his tenure, he’s served as interim chair of the accounting department; been a faculty adviser of Beta Alpha Psi, the university’s premier professional accounting fraternity; and prepared hundreds of students for the certified public accountant licensure exam. Krueger bids farewell to the Bloch School in 2015.

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Remembering Teng-Kee Tan



Teng-Kee Tan, Ph.D, passed away in the presence of his family at his home in Kingston, Washington. Tan served as Dean of the Henry W. Bloch School of Management from 2009 to 2013. During his tenure, he focused on growth in faculty, secured a new building through private funding and invigorated the school’s brand in the community, region and nation.

Tan had numerous successes while serving at Bloch. He served as a catalyst for the success of the school’s new strategic plan and rebranding as the Henry W. Bloch School of Management. This was the outcome of Tan’s twin pillars philosophy, an approach that successfully linked its for-profit and not-for-profit sectors.

While serving as dean, Tan was instrumental in helping to obtain the largest gift in UMKC history – $32 million from the school’s namesake, Henry W. Bloch, to build the Henry W. Bloch Executive Hall for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Under his leadership, with assistance from a strong and dedicated team of associates, he built and expanded Bloch’s faculty. He championed recruiting faculty with strong teaching, research, and community partnership skills. He also empowered faculty to use entrepreneurial spirit to grow their programs to meet business needs in the community, region and nation.

Tan earned a Bachelor of Commerce at Nanyang University, an M.B.A. at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University in 1988, and his Ph.D. at the Judge Institute of Management at the University of Cambridge in 2005. Before becoming Dean at the Bloch School, Tan served as the Director of the Nanyang Technopreneurship Center at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), in the Republic of Singapore.

In addition to his academic achievements, Tan spent 18 years at multi-national corporations in Asia and North America in senior corporate positions, including leadership roles at Electrolux AB, Sweden, and Sunbeam Corporation (USA). Prior to his university career, Tan was an entrepreneur for nine years, traveling and conducting businesses in Asia, Australia, Europe, South America, Canada and the USA.

Tan was born in Malaysia. He leaves behind his wife, Hai-Mee, and two adult children, Yung-Hern Tan and Sue Tan Toyofuku.

A simple funeral service will be held at the Stone Chapel in Poulsbo, Washington on Thursday afternoon May 14.  In lieu of flowers, friends can send a donation in memory of Dr. Teng-Kee Tan to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network or the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

Funding Released for UMKC Free Enterprise Center

$14.8 million prototyping/learning center to be used by students, community

Photo by Janet Rogers, Strategic Marketing and Communications

Photo by Janet Rogers, Strategic Marketing and Communications

Gov. Jay Nixon announced today that he is releasing $7.4 million to allow construction of the new Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise Center at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

The state funds represent the public half of funding for the $14.8 million building, funded under a 50-50 matching program for public-private partnerships to fund capital projects at public colleges and universities in Missouri. Multi-million dollar grants from the Robert W. Plaster Foundation of Lebanon, Mo., and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation are providing the private half of the match. JPMorgan Chase & Co. announced last year that it would donate a $50,000 grant for tech equipment for the center, including 3D printers to help it develop new products.

The Free Enterprise Center, a prototyping and product development hub, will be available to entrepreneurs, local industry, and high school and college students as they pursue entrepreneurial ventures.

The Free Enterprise Center will be housed in a new building to be constructed at the site of a vacant structure at 215 Volker Boulevard. The multi-disciplinary center will serve the School of Computing and Engineering and the Henry W. Bloch School of Management, UMKC’s fastest-growing academic units, and provide a platform for invention, research and education for entrepreneurs, educators, researchers, industry and students.

“The Free Enterprise Center at UMKC will provide greater opportunities for creativity and collaboration among students, faculty and businesses, and strengthen the Kansas City region’s position as a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship,” Nixon said.

UMKC Chancellor Leo E. Morton said the project is emblematic of “the partnership between Kansas City, and Kansas City’s university, UMKC.”

“This facility will support education and economic development across the board. It will help entrepreneurs, inventors and small business be more successful in their ventures.  And students from middle school to graduate school will be get a first-hand taste of entrepreneurship and become grounded in the discipline of innovation,” Morton added. “We’ll be building a better Kansas City and a better Missouri for the long term, one generation after another.”

The Free Enterprise Center will include laboratory space, rapid prototyping equipment and educational/collaborative space. The center also will support business and technology transfer advisors to serve students, faculty and researchers from both schools, as well as local industries, entrepreneurs, artists and K-12 students.

The KC STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Alliance within the School of Computing and Engineering is reaching more than 13,000 middle and high school students in the Kansas City region. This center would provide the KC STEM Alliance space to work with high school students on projects that involve robotics, manufacturing, material science and engineering design. UMKC Enactus students, who compete in entrepreneurial challenges, will work with these students on the entrepreneurial and business aspects of technology and manufactured products and projects.

The facility also will be used as a laboratory, incubator and prototyping center for all students within the School of Computing and Engineering and all entrepreneurship students within the Bloch School of Management.

Four teams won start-up funds for placing in the 2015 Regnier Venture Creation Challenge


The 2015 Regnier Venture Creation Challenge finalists and winners celebrate with event benefactor Bob Regnier.

Sixteen of more than 50 teams advanced to the semifinal round of the 2015 Regnier Venture Creation Challenge on May 9. Each semifinalist group received a $1,000 team prize.

Students presented new concepts to local investors, business leaders and entrepreneurs, while competing for up to $55,000 in total awards and seed funding. After hearing from each semifinalist group, judges selected four teams to compete for the top prize.

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Mayor James at the Bloch School


City’s chief executive inspires students

Kansas City Mayor Sly James visited with students at the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Henry W. Bloch School of Management, bringing a message of inspiration and support for their future in the city they share.

For more than an hour, the mayor talked with students, taking questions, offering advice and talking up the advantages they would have carving out lives and careers in the city where they are receiving their college education.

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Regnier Venture Creation Challenge Semifinalists Announced

VCC 2015 Expo

The 2015 Regnier Venture Creation Challenge began on Friday, May 1. Each spring, the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation holds a business plan competition in which students can present new concepts to local investors, business leaders and entrepreneurs. Each competing team is also eligible for $55,000 in total awards and seed funding.

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Bloch School Team Wins ACG Cup for the Third Time

ACG 2015

From right: Faculty advisor Nathan Mauck, John Atwell, Jacquie Ward and Colin Livasy celebrate their 2015 Kansas City ACG Cup win.


A UMKC team has been awarded the Kansas City Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) Cup for the third consecutive year, beating out competitors from across the region. The team, comprised of Henry W. Bloch School of Management graduate students, included John Atwell (M.S.F.), Jacquie Ward (MBA) and Colin Livasy (M.S.F.) along with faculty advisor Nathan Mauck, Ph.D., They received a $5,000 cash reward and the prestigious ACG Cup title.

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