Comeback KC Ventures

Turning pandemic response solutions into sustainable businesses

Comeback KC Ventures was launched in 2021 to accelerate innovation to jumpstart KC’s comeback from COVID-19, and was originally funded through an 18-month SPRINT Challenge grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration and administered by KC Digital Drive and the UMKC Innovation Center. 

While COVID-19 took a tremendous toll on our lives and livelihoods, it also unleashed a wave of creativity and energy as our community developed responses to the pandemic. From the early days of the response, a wide-ranging group of public and private sector partners sought to address needs, fill gaps, and develop new solutions. Even amidst early uncertainty, we adopted the brand of Comeback KC as an umbrella for these public-private partnerships, looking ahead to a brighter future.

Comeback KC Ventures was an effort to help turn those innovative solutions into a permanent part of our economic recovery. The Comeback KC Ventures program was designed to highlight new solutions that have emerged in response to COVID-19 and to support entrepreneurs developing these solutions into ongoing products, service lines, and businesses. 

In our first year we hosted 26 Fellows, three innovation showcase events, and are working toward the goal of securing $5 Million in follow-on funding and creating 30 new jobs in the KC region. 

> 2021/22: Cohort 1 (C1) – Turning pandemic response solutions into sustainable businesses – see all C1 Fellows

In August 2022, we are relaunching the program under the banner Solutions Lab Ventures as an innovation-based entrepreneur support program managed by KC Digital Drive, embracing the bold approaches that are necessary for the success of entrepreneurs at the intersection of race, gender, and geography, and it is supported by a 3-year Heartland Challenge grant from the Kauffman Foundation. Solutions Lab Ventures aspires to help 10 new high-growth potential companies secure $5 million in follow-on funding and generate 30 new jobs for the KC region by the end of 2025. 

> 2022: Cohort 2 (C2) – Solving local issues using emerging technologies – click here to apply

If you’re interested in getting involved as an entrepreneur, technologist, startup mentor or to apply to be a fellow – contact our team at slv@kcdigitaldrive.org or click here to complete the fellow interest form. 

Through upcoming design workshops, and over the next three years as solutions are discovered, entrepreneurs will be invited and may apply to become a Solutions Lab Ventures Fellow, connecting with peers, industry experts and KC Digital Drive’s resource network to provide valuable personalized support to rapidly develop and advance solutions that use emerging technologies to help solve challenging local issues.

This program open to people that reside or will create jobs within the 9-county Kansas City region, with a focus on those under-represented in the entrepreneurial landscape. 

Check out the Innovation Showcase & Demo Day from Nov 2021

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