Digital Sandbox KC Wins $500K Grant for Startups

Digital Sandbox KC has just received another big vote of confidence—worth about $1.15 million.

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration has awarded the program a three-year, $500,000 i6 grant to provide proof-of-concept help to local startups.

The Kauffman Foundation, Missouri Technology Corporation, Cobalt Ventures and the UMKC Henry W. Bloch School of Management are putting up matching funds.

This will be the program’s second i6 grant. The first, awarded in 2012, was worth $1 million and helped Digital Sandbox KC get up and running.

The program is overseen by the UMKC Innovation Center. It helps local startups pay for development, testing and other assistance to get their products and services ready for commercialization.

Digital Sandbox KC also offers coaching to the founders of KC-based startups. Some of the city’s biggest companies—UMB, Garmin, Sprint, Hallmark and more—also provide services to Sandbox companies.

Since the program started in early 2013, it has funded 46 projects, which has helped lead to nearly $18 million in follow-on investment, almost $7 million in sales and more than 180 new jobs, which pay nearly $5.5 million in salaries.

“Our success so far is a direct result of the quality entrepreneurs in Kansas City and the overwhelming corporate and community support we’ve received,” said Jeff Shackelford, director of Digital Sandbox KC. “We’ve found that the Sandbox fills a critical gap for early-stage companies in the funding landscape for Kansas City.”

Digital Sandbox KC is always taking applications from interested companies. In fact, it just welcomed four new startups. For more information, visit