Research Foundation News

May 11, 2017

Finalists named in area entrepreneurial competition of startups designed to assist women, families

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Seven entrepreneurs with ideas to assist women and families have a chance to compete for $70,000 in national prizes as local finalists in Purdue’s 2017 InnovateHER Challenge.

Organizers announced the finalists Tuesday (May 9) after reviewing executive summaries and 20-page business plans for the competing entrepreneurs.

“We had an overwhelming amount of quality submissions,” said Juliana Casavan, entrepreneurial programs manager for Purdue Foundry and co-director of the InnovateHER Challenge by WomenIN. “As a result, we decided to choose seven finalists instead of five.”

The Purdue competition is organized through the WomenIN initiative hosted by Purdue Foundry, a Purdue-based entrepreneurship and commercialization accelerator. The InnovateHER Challenge was launched nationwide in 2015 by the U.S. Small Business Administration to highlight innovative products and services designed to assist women and families.

Local entries were judged on their measurable impact on the lives of women and families, potential for commercialization, and ability to fill a need in the marketplace.

Finalists will pitch their ideas to a panel of judges May 23 at the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship. The local winner will receive $5,000 and that entry will be submitted to the national competition to compete for $70,000 in prizes. National winners will be announced July 31.

The seven finalists are:

  • Advanced Vascular Therapies – a startup assisting people with circulatory problems to increase their quality of life while allowing them to remain at home.
  • BlueBox Alert – a startup developing a smart device app to protect women from being victimized by violent crimes.
  • CoLab – a co-working space designed to help women eliminate the choice between career and kids by offering on-site child care.
  • Explore Interactive – a startup commercializing an interactive platform to foster STEM education in elementary school students.
  • Hydro Grow – a startup commercializing refrigerator-sized vegetable growing pods consumers can place in their homes.
  • Lactor – an interactive web-based breastfeeding monitoring system.
  • Phytoption – a startup transforming high-value, insoluble ingredients into soluble solutions for food, supplement, cosmetic and pharmaceutical uses.

Purdue’s 2016 winner Pu Wang, a Purdue graduate and current postdoctoral research assistant in the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, was named a national finalist for MarginPAT, a breast cancer assessment tool that can differentiate between healthy and unhealthy tissue during surgery to help minimize secondary surgical procedures.

Wang is co-founder and CTO of Vibronix Inc., the company commercializing the technology.

The InnovateHER Challenge by WomenIN is sponsored by the Krannert School of Management’s Jane Brock-Wilson Women in Management Center and the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship. For more information, go to

About the 2017 InnovateHER Challenge

The InnovateHER Challenge provides an opportunity for entrepreneurs throughout the U.S. to display products and services that have a measureable impact on women and families. Created by the U.S. Small Business Administration, the challenge offers local competitions held by universities, business accelerators, SBA resource partners and others. Each chooses a single winner to advance to the national competition. National competitors travel to Washington, D.C., to compete for a combined $70,000 in prizes.

About Purdue Foundry

The Purdue Foundry is an entrepreneurship and commercialization accelerator in Discovery Park's Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship whose professionals help Purdue innovators create startups. Managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, the Purdue Foundry was named a top recipient at the 2016 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Designation and Awards Program by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities for its work in entrepreneurship. For more information about funding and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at

Writer: Curt Slyder, 765-588-3342,

Sources: Juliana Casavan, 765-588-5253,

Brittany Collins, 765-588-5252,

Research Foundation News

Purdue University, 610 Purdue Mall, West Lafayette, IN 47907, (765) 494-4600

© 2015-17 Purdue University | An equal access/equal opportunity university | Copyright Complaints | Maintained by Office of Strategic Communications

Trouble with this page? Disability-related accessibility issue? Please contact News Service at