Digital Sandbox KC, a partnership among private companies, universities, entrepreneurial support organizations and government agencies across the Kansas City region, recently announced key details of the effort to spur development of local IT-related start-up businesses.
The project, led by the Innovation Center at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, has named a veteran technology entrepreneur as its director: Jeff Shackelford, the co-founder and founder, respectively, of two companies: Birch Telecom, and Tech Guys, Inc.
Digital Sandbox KC will be housed in Union Station.
- At the Sandbox, technology innovators and entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to brainstorm and problem-solve with top people from the private sector corporate partners to find marketable applications for new discoveries, as well as “orphan technologies” from both corporate- and university-based development labs.
- The corporate partners will also bring their technological hurdles to the Sandbox, and brainstorm with peers and experts to develop solutions.
Digital Sandbox KC is unique among economic development and entrepreneurship efforts in that it is supported by a wide array of private sector partners as well as economic development agencies, non-profit groups and universities.
Corporate partners will provide boots-on-the-ground mentoring and advising from top executives. Digital Sandbox KC is a key initiative in the effort to brand Kansas City as “America’s Most Entrepreneurial City.”
- Digital Sandbox KC is the result of a U.S. Department of Commerce $1 million grant to create a proof of concept center to spur development of information technology--related start-up businesses in the Kansas City region.
The grant was obtained by a UMKC-led consortium, one of the winning teams in the third round of the federal i6 Challenge. The i6 Challenge is a multi-agency federal grant that encourages and rewards innovative, groundbreaking ideas that accelerate technology commercialization, new venture formation, job creation, and economic growth across the United States. The awards are highly competitive and only one award is made in each of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Agency’s multi-state regions.
It is anticipated that the Digital Sandbox will generate a minimum of 10 new high-growth companies with either follow-on funding or at least $1 million in revenue each within two years of the launch.