LaunchKC To Boost Support of Early-Stage Businesses

Small Business & Technology Development Center and Regnier Institute Collaborate on Mentor Services

LaunchKC, the global grants competition for tech entrepreneurs, signed an agreement today to elevate its support for early stage businesses via two of Kansas City’s leaders in professional mentor services.

LaunchKC entered the voluntary agreement with the University of Missouri–Kansas City’s (UMKC) Small Business & Technology Development Center (SBTDC) and UMKC’s Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (RIEI).

The three partners will collaborate on mentor services for entrepreneurs to assist successful LaunchKC grant recipients and to potentially offer services, including business coaching and access to partnership programs, to LaunchKC grant applicants who might not receive one of the 10 grants awarded each year.

“The primary aim is to expand Kansas City’s mentor support services for early stage businesses for job and investment creation in the Kansas City area,” according to Carmen DeHart, director, UMKC SBTDC.

“The SBTDC and Regnier Institute’s partnership with LaunchKC will focus on identifying mentors to provide critical advice, expertise and value creation, as well as curriculum programming and connections for the growth of the grant recipients and the greater LaunchKC community. Fostering meaningful mentor relationships and partnering with LaunchKC sponsors to deliver expert programming, will further develop the rich network of support for early-stage technology businesses in Kansas City,” DeHart said.

“This agreement will provide increased national exposure to entrepreneurial-minded tech and tech-business leaders for our graduates, increasing our name recognition among an audience of talented technical people who may seek complementary business skills in the future, whether through an MBA program, continuing education or the Entrepreneurship Scholars (E-Scholars) Program,” said Jeff Hornsby, interim director and department chair, RIEI.

The announcement comes on the eve of the final round of the second annual LaunchKC competition finals at Union Station. Twenty finalists will compete from 8 a.m. to noon Friday, during the Techweek Kansas City conference. The LaunchKC judges will break from noon to 3 p.m. to assess the performances and score each of the 20 competitors.

The 2016 LaunchKC grant recipients will be announced in a special ceremony at 3 p.m. Friday in the Extreme Screen theatre at Union Station.

About LaunchKC

LaunchKC is a global grants competition designed to attract tech entrepreneurs to build their new and emerging tech businesses in Downtown Kansas City. It is a nonprofit initiative of the Downtown Council (DTC) of Kansas City, Missouri, working in collaboration with the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) of Kansas City, Missouri. This is the second year for the LaunchKC grants competition.


The Small Business & Technology Development Center at UMKC educates individuals to start, manage and grow businesses, creating a viable economic base, improving lives and enriching communities. The program provides individualized business counseling, coaching and training and boasts a reputation for high-quality technical assistance and education. The center works with prospective entrepreneurs to start businesses; existing businesses to improve their competitiveness; and entrepreneurs pursuing technology commercialization and rapid expansion opportunities. The SBTDC serves as the intermediary and coordinator for LaunchKC mentor support services.

About the University of Missouri-Kansas City

The University of Missouri-Kansas City, one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving more than 15,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students, and celebrating its 80th anniversary in 2013. UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a four-part mission: life and health sciences; visual and performing arts; urban issues and education; and a vibrant learning and campus life experience. For more information about UMKC, visit You can also find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and watch us on YouTube.










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