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A bureau within the U.S. Department of Commerce
Funding Opportunities Background

Office of Innovation and
Entrepreneurship (OIE)

Curators of the University of Missouri
(a former 2012 i6 Challenge grantee)


Kansas City, Missouri

Project Name

Digital Sandbox KC: Expanding Kansas City's Proof-of-Concept Center



Award Amount


Matching Amount


Making Kansas City America’s most entrepreneurial city is a key regional economic development strategy.  To make this happen, the community is building on its strengths and collectively creating an entrepreneurial ecosystem by systematically identifying and filling gaps.

Created through the 2012 i6 Challenge, Digital Sandbox KC proof-of-concept center was established to fill two gaps: the need for better capital access for early-stage concepts and better large corporate engagement in the entrepreneurial community.  During its first two years the Sandbox reviewed 250 projects, provided direct proof-of-concept support to 37, creating 23 new companies, 154 new jobs and garnering $10.2 million in follow-on project funding.

While completing its first proof-of-concept projects proved that the Digital Sandbox structure works, it also highlighted another gap.  To-date, projects have largely supported the development of the concept into a minimal viable product.  A mechanism is now needed to extend the services to very rapidly access (1) hardware testing resources and (2) put early-stage products directly into the hands of targeted groups of people who can provide immediate feedback through focus group testing.

To fill this gap, Digital Sandbox will both continue support for early-stage proof-of-concept projects and expand to create a community-wide network of product development and testing resources, essentially turning the entire community into a regional market research and testing environment.  This clearinghouse will encompass prototype equipment and resources available through higher education, corporate, government and nonprofit channels.  With the addition of access to these resources, Digital Sandbox KC expects to create 30 new companies, 200 new jobs, and follow-on investment of $15 million over the next three years.