LaunchKC is set to announce the winners of six $50,000 Liftoff Grants on Nov. 14, during the Global Entrepreneurship Week Kansas City conference. 

Each year, LaunchKC, a joint venture between the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City (EDCKC) and the Downtown Council, takes applications for tech startup business grants in the Kansas City area. Since 2015, they have given out grants to 100 companies. 

This year, 90 startups applied before LaunchKC’s panel narrowed down the list to 13 finalists. 

Becca Castro, the strategic initiatives manager at EDCKC, told Startland News that LaunchKC is pleased with the diversity within the applicant pool. Among the 13 finalists, eight are female tech founders, and five are Black. Castro credited the organization’s diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) business practices with this year’s diversity among finalists. 

LaunchKC says that two-thirds of its past awardees are either women or minority-led startups. 

Five Black Finalists: 

  • Heft IQ (Learie Hercules) — AI-driven supply chain advanced analytics platform to help entrepreneurs grow e-commerce. 
  • Interplay (Jonaie Johnson) — Smart dog crate that allows owners to play music, talk to, and feed their pets while they’re away.
  • NurseBridge (Patience Gitau) — Medical staffing innovation bridging the gap between qualified medical professionals and success-driven healthcare systems through a tech-enabled staffing platform.
  • Foresight (Jannae Gammage) — Tech platform featuring an AI-powered lending assistant specially trained to streamline administrative work across the lending cycle, including evaluation, eligibility and document verification, macro- and micro-economic data, and more.
  • CodeAlgo Academy (Triumfia Houmbie Fulks) — A 3D Computer Science gaming platform that teaches K-8 students how to code, making learning fun and tailored.

The winner will be announced at the Libations + Liftoff event at J. Rieger & Co. distillery Nov. 14. The winning companies will not only receive $50,000 in grant funding but also gain access to office space in downtown KC for a year, personalized educational programs, mentorship, and other crucial resources throughout 2024.
For a full list of finalists and more info, visit To attend the Libations + Liftoff event where the winners will be announced, register for free at

Prior to joining The Community Voice, he worked as a reporter & calendar editor with The Pitch, writing instructor with The Kansas City Public Library, and as a contributing food writer for Kansas...