Definition of Accelerators
Accelerators are intentional business support initiatives designed to increase the success of early stage firms. Typical accelerators may involve a rigorous selection process, a mentorship period of approximately three months, the capacity to make an investment in the company (generally in the form of convertible debt), and the opportunity to pitch the business to accelerator partners and potential investors.
EMKF is open to supporting a variety of accelerator types. Support for local accelerators is linked to the Foundation’s interest in helping Kansas City become America’s most entrepreneurial city, while also wanting to expand opportunities for those that have not been traditionally served by accelerators.
Our conversations with business and civic leaders in Kansas City point out various market gaps, including the need to mitigate the wide gap that currently exists between established companies and the local startup community. Accelerators have a unique capacity to bridge the gap between established companies searching for innovations to solve particular business problems and startups with innovation capacity that nonetheless require capital, mentorship, and a strategic partner to succeed.
Links to EMKF Funded Research
The Kauffman Foundation supports national research on accelerators. We hope that what we learn from this initiative will inform our understanding of the field. We are dedicated to ensuring that all research we fund is widely distributed and useful for practitioners, businesses, and academics alike. We hope that this initiative will further inform our understanding of the field. If you are interested in taking part in this work and /or receive updates on the findings, please let us know in your application.
The question of the educational functions of accelerators is also related to a longer term and more fundamental interest of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation: what do we know about the ways entrepreneurs learn? What are the experiential educational models that are most effective? How are they best delivered? And how can we ensure that best educational practices are deployed most broadly?
We are hopeful that what we learn from this initiative will inform our understanding of how entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial organizations learn.
Applicants and the Application Process
Both for-profit and nonprofit accelerators are eligible for grants as long as the purpose of the grant meets the educational and/or community outreach requirements for charitability in accordance with IRS standards. As part of the application review we will identify any issues related to charitability standards and seek clarification as needed.
Applicants can apply for educational functions grant only or for education and community outreach to underserved communities.
Applications are due by January 13, 2017. Grants will be made for one year with the potential for renewal based on the success of the program and EMKF’s assessment of local needs. After an application is received and processed, EMKF staff will make a site visit and may request additional information.
While EMKF is willing to cover a significant amount of the educational and community outreach costs of the accelerator, we assume that total EMKF contributions will represent less than 50% of the overall cost of operating the accelerator for one year.