Searching for Kansas Rural Innovators

TOPEKA, Kansas – The Kansas Small Business Development Center Tech Innovation Center has announced Encountering Innovation: The Hunt for Opportunity Tour, which will kick off Thursday, Sept. 20, in Colby.

Ralph Lagergren, serial inventor and businessman, will represent the SBDC Tech Innovation Center and lead the charge to find rural Kansas inventors, patent holders, and business owners who have an idea with potential for commercialization.

Lagergren has developed successful products across several industries, but is probably best known for selling a grain-harvesting combine design to John Deere. In several hour-long sessions open to the public throughout the tour, Lagergren will share his own stories of moving ideas from concept to production. Topics include how to sell, manufacture, license, develop, prototype, and patent.

One-on-one sessions will be made available and provided at no cost to the innovators interested in confidential business advising. To attend the public events or to schedule business advising, innovators are encouraged to contact their local Kansas SBDC centers at

In addition to speaking with prospects about moving ideas through the innovation lifecycle, Lagergren will be promote Encountering Innovation: Delivering Innovation to the DoD and Beyond – a week-long event that starts Monday, Oct. 8, at the Kansas SBDC at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park.

This is the second year for Encountering Innovation. Innovators from across the Midwest are invited to the October event to pitch their ideas to technology scouts from the U.S. Department of Defense. Innovators are also invited to share “public BLUFs” aka “Bottom Line Up Front” with attendees during a poster board event on Tuesday. For more information, contact

On Tuesday, Oct. 9, the Encountering Innovation conference will be open to the public. Innovators, incubator managers, venture capital managers, intellectual property attorneys, SBIR applicants, and others are encouraged to attend.

Registration to the conference is open at

Supporting Data
In Kansas, small business innovators and universities build value by connecting with government contractors and securing intellectual property. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Rocky Mountain Regional Office in Denver, Colorado, serves the state of Kansas.

According to the USPTO website:

  • 4,597 utility patents have been issued to Kansans since June 2014.
  • Kansas innovators registered 1,927 trademarks in 2017.
  • The 3 biggest patent areas for Kansas are telecommunications (US patent classification 455), multiplex communications (class 370) and financial, business class data processing.

Supporting Data
At the October 2017 Encountering Innovation event:

  • U.S. Department of Defense Tech Scouts expressed interest in 44 of the 57 technologies they were introduced to during the event.
  • Twenty-seven of 57 innovators connected with a DoD contact.
  • Seventeen of 57 innovators were referred to another federal agency.
  • Five additional innovators received a referral or recommendation that could help move their product forward.

About Kansas SBDC
The Kansas SBDC is a statewide advising, consulting, and training service for small business (typically less than 500 employees) funded by federal, state and local partners. Funding allows the Kansas SBDC to provide advising and training (i.e. financial analysis, marketing, and management) to businesses across the state at low or no cost. Kansas SBDC is an accredited member of America’s SBDC, the most comprehensive small business assistance network in the United States.

To learn more, visit or call 877-625-7232.

For more information on the Kansas SBDC, contact Lisa Roberts, 785-296-6514,



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