InnovateHER competition at Purdue gives entrepreneurs chance to help women and families

October 5, 2015  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Entrepreneurs at Purdue and from the Greater Lafayette community can have a measurable impact on the lives of women and families, fill a need in the marketplace and win cash through the InnovateHER competition.

Registration is now open for the 2016 InnovateHER Challenge, which was launched this year by the U.S. Small Business Administration to highlight innovative products and services designed to impact and empower women.

Executive summaries for the competition are due Oct. 19. To register, go to

The winner at the Purdue event will receive $3,000 and a chance to advance to Washington, D.C., in March to compete for three cash prizes totaling $70,000. The second place Purdue finisher will receive a $1,500 cash prize.

"Our workforce looks very different now than it did 50 years ago," said Purdue InnovateHER coordinator Joy Dietz, director of the Women in Management program at the Krannert School of Management. "Women now comprise nearly half of the labor force, and demands on women and their families are growing. This competition is the platform to provide the products and services that address those demands."

Participants must be at least 18 years old, U.S. citizens or permanent residents, and meet other requirements listed in the rules at A callout to help participants polish their business plans is at 5 p.m. Oct. 13 at the Anvil, 320 North St. in West Lafayette.

The top 10 finalists at Purdue will be announced on Nov. 6, with the winner from that lineup will be determined from a panel of judges on Nov. 23.

Joining Krannert in organizing the Purdue competition is the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship in Discovery Park.

The inaugural InnovateHER was piloted earlier this past year, and the final round was in May during National Small Business Week.

Winners were Bethany Edwards, LIA Diagnostics, Philadelphia, who designed a discreet, environmentally friendly pregnancy test; Lisa Crites of Melbourne, Florida, who designed a post-surgical, patented, water-resistant garment designed to prevent post-surgical mastectomy drain sites from coming into contact with water while showering; and Sophie Berman of Pittsburgh, who developed effective and attractive products aimed at eliminating pain and discomforts for the underserved U.S. market of larger-busted women.

"We have gotten so much enthusiasm about this competition. It's been a surprise to us the number of folks who picked up on it nationally," said Erin Andrew, director of the SBA's Office of Women's Business Ownership.

The 2016 competition will build on the first year's success, and it has its roots in the local competitions taking place this year. "Now is the time for entrepreneurs at Purdue to showcase the products and services that could have a national impact," Dietz said.

SBA administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet launched the InnovateHER National Business Challenge, working closely with Office of Women's Business Ownership. The SBA and Microsoft Corp. are co-sponsors of the national event. 

Writers: Phillip Fiorini, 765-496-3133,

Anna Schultz, 765-494-2083, 

Source: Joy Dietz, 765-496-6615, 

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