Solutions Lab Ventures

(formerly Comeback KC Ventures)

What is Solutions Lab Ventures?

Solutions Lab Ventures is an innovation-based entrepreneur support program managed by KC Digital Drive, supported by a 3-year Heartland Challenge grant from the Kauffman Foundation. SLV was Formerly known as Comeback KC Ventures with original funding through an 18-month SPRINT Challenge grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration and administered in partnership by KC Digital Drive and the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) Innovation Center. 

Our ultimate goal aspires to source 10 new high-growth potential companies that generate 30 new jobs and $5 million in follow-on funding by the end of 2025, while embracing the bold approaches that are necessary for the success of entrepreneurs at the intersection of race, gender, and geography. 

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

2021: Cohort 1 (C1)- Turning pandemic response solutions into sustainable businesses – click here to see all C1 Fellows

SLV focuses on innovative uses of emerging technologies that have great social impact on communities, and fostering more diversity among the innovators and entrepreneurs we attract and support in the program. 

Last year, as 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.

That first year effort helped 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.

How Can I Get Involved in Cohort 2?

  • Share solutions you have seen that have impact and promise
    • who in your community – entrepreneur
    • who in your community – should we ask for feedback
    • apply to be a fellow
    • has a solution not an entrepreneur
  • Participate in an upcoming discovery workshop
  • Serve as a mentor to Comeback KC Venture Fellows

We are looking for solutions that:

  • Provide strong evidence that the technology is unique and that the IP is protected or likely to be protectable
  • The technology is likely to be competitive in the marketplace and represents a sizable business opportunity
  • A solution to smaller but impactful local problems that have a local stakeholder or customer with demonstrated need for the solution
  • Initial proof-of-concept can be achieved within 1 year 

What Are the Solutions Lab Venture Fellows?

As solutions are discovered, and on a rolling basis, entrepreneurs will be invited to apply to become a SLV Fellow. Through SLV Fellows, entrepreneurs will connect with each other, as well as KC Digital Drive’s resource network for training, counseling, and industry expertise, to help provide personalized support to rapidly develop solutions to meet these opportunities.

Each SLV Fellow will:

  • Meet with resource network partners, experts, and/or develop an advisory of potential users and industry leaders
  • Build community through peer to peer engagement 
  • Have access and increased visibility to investors and other funding sources 

This program is being funded through a 3-year Heartland Challenge grant from the Kauffman Foundation, and is 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.

2021/22 Video Highlight

Check out the 2021/22 program – Comeback KC Ventures – accelerating innovation to jumpstart KC’s comeback from COVID-19.  

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