NXTSTAGE is a pilot competition open to startups around the globe.
A Wichita-based accelerator program is putting out a worldwide call for startups looking to grow.
Come to Kansas, its organizers say, and you’ll have the opportunity to pitch your products in front of real customers in the region. No equity required.
NXSTAGE is backed by a $250,000 grant from the Talent Ecosystem Fund at the Wichita Community Foundation and is designed for corporations and startups to “get the best out of each other,” said Mary Beth Jarvis, NXTUS executive director. Young startups selected for the pilot competition will present their ideas to industry partners during paid trips to Wichita, meeting face-to-face with decision makers, interacting with innovation teams inside partner organizations, and getting to know the community better.
“NXTSTAGE is designed to boost the pace of technological transformation here and convey to startups far and wide that we are a market where innovative thinkers and young companies can thrive,” Jarvis said in a release. “We want to position Wichita as the ‘Pilot Capital of the World,’ where entrepreneurs can succeed by proving out their offerings in our region.”
The competition is open to startups from around the world with deployment-ready technologies that can add immediate value to businesses and communities in three focus areas:
- Fintech: Banking and financial services, with founding backers Emprise Bank, Fidelity Bank and INTRUST Bank
- Industry 4.0: Advanced manufacturing/industrial IoT (Internet of Things)
- And community health and vibrancy, where NXTSTAGE is looking for innovations that can improve people’s health and make urban, suburban or rural communities more vibrant
“We believe this program has the opportunity to transform both our region and the startups we bring here,” said Courtney Bengtson, director of strategic initiatives at Wichita Community Foundation. She said it also addresses workforce issues and talent development “in a way our community hasn’t seen done before.”
Wichita is considered the nation’s aerospace manufacturing hub and ranked 119th on Forbes’ best places for business list. Both Koch Industries Inc. and Cargill Protein – the top two largest privately held companies in the U.S. – are headquartered there, and the city is the birthplace of household brands like Pizza Hut and Coleman. But it often competes for investment and human capital with nearby cities Kansas City, Lincoln, Omaha, Des Moines, Oklahoma City and Tulsa.
The program is fast moving, NXTUS said; NXTSTAGE is its first major effort since a January rebrand. The accelerator, formerly known as e2e, launched in 2016 to “reinvigorate the spirit of entrepreneurism” in Wichita. NXTUS also manages Accelerate Venture Partners, one of the nation’s fastest-growing angel investor syndicates for high-growth seed and early-stage tech companies.
Founders can expect to spend approximately two weeks in Wichita. Organizers say the competition will end with an innovation showcase in the spring. No equity is asked for nor expected, and there is no cost to submit an application.
The only catch? The deadline to apply is Saturday, Feb. 15.