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The Digital Sandbox

Where innovators come to play.

Digital Sandbox KC, an unprecedented partnership among private companies, universities, entrepreneurial support organizations and government agencies across the Kansas City region, today announced key details of the effort to spur development of local IT-related start-up businesses.

The project, led by the Innovation Center at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, has named a veteran technology entrepreneur as its director: Jeff Shackelford, the co-founder and founder, respectively, of two companies: Birch Telecom, and Tech Guys, Inc.

Maria Meyers, director of the UMKC Innovation Center and one of the leaders driving the Sandbox concept, announced the 15-member Advisory Board to Digital Sandbox KC. The full list is below.

Gov. Jay Nixon, Mayor Sly James and U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II joined top executives from Kansas City corporate icons Hallmark, Sprint, UMB Bank, Cerner, VML, RareWire and more at the announcement event at Union Station, where Digital Sandbox KC will be housed. At the Sandbox, technology innovators and entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to brainstorm and problem-solve with top people from the private sector corporate partners to find marketable applications for new discoveries, as well as “orphan technologies” from both corporate- and university-based development labs. The corporate partners will also bring their technological hurdles to the Sandbox, and brainstorm with peers and experts to develop solutions.

Digital Sandbox KC is unique among economic development and entrepreneurship efforts in that it is supported by a wide array of private sector partners as well as economic development agencies, non-profit groups and universities. Corporate partners will provide boots-on-the-ground mentoring and advising from top executives. Digital Sandbox KC is a key initiative in the effort to brand Kansas City as “America’s Most Entrepreneurial City.”

UMKC Chancellor Leo Morton said the involvement of private sector corporate partners in Digital Sandbox KC will be a key element in its success – and a sign of those partners’ commitment to civic leadership.