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KANSAS CITY, MO

Innovation That Matters 2016

We are at the dawn of an extraordinary technological revolution and it is transforming every part of the U.S. economy. Innovation That Matters examines and ranks 25 cities’ readiness to capitalize on the inevitable shift to a digital economy.

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Edtech startups pave the way for innovation in Kansas City

Kansas City may be in the early stages of building its startup community, but its well-connected ecosystem is becoming its greatest asset. While the health and energy sectors score low in terms of new business development, education has seen a surprising uptick in recent years. It remains to be seen if other industries will eventually score higher on the index for startups or if established businesses will stifle startup potential.

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The Kansas City startup culture is moving in the right direction

Smart millennials repopulating old urban neighborhoods may be the first step to launching Kansas City’s startup scene. While the current domestic flux doesn’t bode well for the region, the increase of educated millennials paints a prettier picture. This could be a sign of things to come, if the startup community is able to build on this foundation.

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  1. Kansas City is in the early stages of building its startup community, but a well-connected ecosystem is becoming its greatest asset.
    The city came in 24th overall in the Index, but it performed well in the ecosystem connectivity survey (9th), suggesting that entrepreneurs perceive strong support from other actors in the community. Involvement from corporate (3rd) and institutional partners (7th), engaged citizens (4th), and loud local cheerleaders trumpeting the region’s successes (7th) are key building blocks for the city’s transformation.
  2. The local regulatory environment and quality of life emerged as strong points of the region, but a lack of openness to new ideas may be the city’s greatest cultural weakness.
    The city came in 14th and 17th on the first two indicators, but 21st on the third.
  3. Kansas City as a whole may not be a talent magnet, but the pieces exist to compete in the digital economy.
    The region performed poorly in terms of both general population inflows from outside the region (25th) and talented millennial inflows from outside the region (21st), but it performed very well in terms of tech talent (10th). To stay competitive, it will be important to nurture this growing talent pool.
  4. The city can build on its strength in construction, transportation and logistics, but first it needs to build out its startup community.
    Established business clusters in these smart city sectors (7th) suggest a potential competitive advantage in the digital economy, but this has not translated yet into a vibrant smart city startup scene (21st).
  5. Millennials repopulating old urban neighborhoods may be the first step to launching Kansas City’s startup scene.
    The city reported one of the fastest rates of increase in young people already within the region’s vicinity moving into dense, urban neighborhoods (6th). This could be a sign of things to come, if the startup community is able to build on that foundation.
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