Increased funding and support for entrepreneurs drive MTC’s innovation plans

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Funding and support are on the way for emerging companies in the Show-Me State over the next few years, the Missouri Technology Corporation (MTC) announced this week.

MTC, a public-private partnership with the state created to promote entrepreneurship and the growth of high-tech businesses in Missouri, released a plan Thursday to increase the state’s technology and business footprint. The plans are based on funding, growth, culture, inspiration and connection.

The steps detailed in the plan would pursue the goals outlined in a report commissioned by MTC and released earlier this year. “Catalyzing Innovation: Strategies for Missouri to Drive Innovation and Entrepreneurship,” the report produced for MTC by TEConomy Partners, LLC, compiled data from entrepreneurs and start-ups from 2010 to 2020 and contributions from 500 stakeholders across the state.

The report proposed several measures, including funding and education opportunities, which MTC has adapted in its implementation plan for the next few years.

“The development of the Catalyzing Innovation Report was a significant milestone for the state,” MTC Chairman Dr. Dedric Carter said in a statement. “Translating the wisdom of this report into an action plan positions us to unlock increased entrepreneurial opportunities for all of Missouri.”

The group plans to invest additional capital in businesses through its management of the federal State Small Business Credit Initiative program on behalf of the state. The program, intended to support small businesses and provide access to capital for start-ups, will distribute approximately $95 million to Missouri over the next decade, with its first allocation slated for fiscal year 2023. It also plans to help the state encourage angel investments, with which individuals provide capital to start-ups.

The group will also explore the creation of Missouri Rural Vitality Funds to provide guarantees for rural business loans. MTC plans to assess the feasibility of the proposal and seek potential partners in fiscal year 2023, with a proof-of-concept program expected to be piloted in the following fiscal year.

Education efforts include the development of a statewide entrepreneurship pathway program, which would provide entrepreneurs with access to additional resources and opportunities. It is expected to launch in fiscal year 2025 after a third-party vendor is selected to create an online portal for the effort.

The group also plans to develop competitive grant programs that are expected to be piloted in fiscal year 2023, as well as efforts to connect companies and institutional partners with startups with a pilot expected in 2025 or later.

Another goal would be to reinvigorate the Research Alliance of Missouri (RAM), which acts as an advisory group to the MTC board. MTC plans to bring together members from research universities across the state to host an initial RAM meeting in the next fiscal year, with MTC managing it as an advisory board thereafter.

RAM and MTC would then leverage the federal Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program, which offers seven-week experimental training sessions for scientists and engineers to bring their focus and expertise to the tech sector. MTC hopes to implement best practices for the program and its new ramifications around fiscal year 2024.

The group also hopes to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs through new programs at the college, high school and higher education levels, funding new internship programs, leveraging regional partnerships for educational opportunities and new efforts. communications and branding to build awareness.

Finally, the plan outlines several strategies designed to improve connections between businesses across the state. It seeks to pilot peer-to-peer working groups to connect stakeholders and spread economic vitality beyond individual regions. The plan was intended to support broadband infrastructure throughout the state and educate the state about the opportunities MTC has to offer.

The plan was unveiled at this week’s Governor’s Economic Development Conference in Springfield, which included panel discussions, networking opportunities and presentations from Governor Mike Parson and the MTC.

“We commend Missouri Technology Corporation for taking this bold step to support high-tech entrepreneurship, innovation and growth,” Parson said. “As made clear at this week’s conference, we are committed to the continued economic success of our state. MTC’s strategies will go a long way in shaping a prosperous future for Missouri businesses.”

MTC is a collaboration with the Missouri Department of Economic Development. It has invested more than $75 million since 2014, driving an economic impact of more than $6 billion, according to MTC data.

The group is also accepting applications this month for the Missouri Entrepreneurial Capacity (MOBEC) grant program, which is available to innovation centers and business support organizations.

Read the full implementation plan and original report at missouritechnology.com/statewide-initiative.

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