Black & Veatch, the largest engineering company in the Kansas City area, is a global leader in engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services for energy, water and telecommunications. It’s IgniteX Cleantech Accelerator marks one of its boldest moves into the entrepreneurial arena of engineering services. The company recently created a segment of the company known as the Growth Accelerator, leveraging Black & Veatch’s core strengths to explore new and emerging markets.
Black & Veatch’s IgniteX Cleantech Accelerator, powered by LaunchKC will seek partnership with startups focused on renewable and distributed energy, mobility, agricultural technology, machine learning and AI, and other technologies or processes adding value to engineering services. The program will include equity awards, a 75-day period of collaboration with Black & Veatch and program supporters, and a demo day in November. The application is scheduled to open next week, and will be located on the IgniteX Cleantech Accelerator website.
“Partnering with LaunchKC is a natural extension of our effort to constantly challenge convention and advance the way we deliver value for clients,” said Hyleme George, Director of the IgniteX Cleantech Accelerator Program. “LaunchKC’s reputation for identifying attractive and innovative startups will ultimately result in access to a new and exciting pool of talent and great ideas.”
“The bottom line of the new platform is to attract scalable companies to the city to create more jobs and opportunities while growing our economy,” said Drew Solomon, senior vice president, business and job development for the EDC.
Businesses who choose to participate in the Black & Veatch IgniteX Cleantech Accelerator, powered by LaunchKC will gain valuable training and insight to grow their business through collaboration with a top global infrastructure provider, as well as exposure and networking opportunities with an experienced network of investors, supporters and clients in Kansas City and around the world.
“The City of Kansas City, Mo. continues to build on its track record of smart city success. The City pioneered a range of public-private partnerships from 2015 through today to deliver critical infrastructure and data-driven policy evolutions. This allows us to explore new business models and engage entrepreneurs and firms across our ecosystem,” said Bob Bennett, chief innovation officer for the City of KCMO. “The commitment to the Cleantech vertical accelerator extends those efforts. The City and its partners are proud to support the development of new technologies in sustainability and data-driven systems management.”
Solomon explained that industry-focused business accelerators provide a more complete bundle of benefits for entrepreneurs, including seed investment, connections, mentorship, and educational components. The new LaunchKC programs will feature public pitch days to showcase each cohort of entrepreneurs. The events are designed to accelerate their growth.
“The accelerator platform will provide investors pathways to take equity stakes in early-stage businesses after grants have been awarded,” he said.
“The industry-focused business accelerator platform will continue to reward entrepreneurs with grants to help them in growing their businesses,” said Mike Hurd, marketing officer for the Downtown Council (DTC) and LaunchKC, “but will add more pathways to assist them in elevating their chances of success.”
LaunchKC, the 5-year-old grants competition for tech startups nationwide, will work in partnership with Black & Veatch to provide competition management, marketing and event services. LaunchKC is a joint venture of the Downtown Council of Kansas City and the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City.
The nonprofit LaunchKC competition awarded $2 million in grants to 38 tech startup businesses over four years. Today, 34 of the grant winners – or 90 percent – are still in business, posting milestones (as of year-end 2018) that include:
- 167 full-time employees; up 10-fold since 2015
- $11.7 million in cumulative sales; up from $199,000 in 2015
- $48 million in cumulative investment – up from $2 million in year one
LaunchKC is funded by the Missouri Technology Corporation, the City of Kansas City, Missouri, and local corporate and philanthropic organizations, including the Kansas City Power & Light District, JE Dunn Construction, Google Fiber, Husch Blackwell, KCP&L, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the William T. Kemper Foundation, Lathrop Gage, Lead Bank, Missouri Department of Economic Development and Port KC.