Research Foundation News

April 11, 2017

InnovateHER competition at Purdue gives entrepreneurs a chance to help women, families

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue and Greater Lafayette entrepreneurs can use their business ideas to make a significant impact on the lives of women and families and potentially compete for $70,000 in prizes through the 2017 InnovateHER Challenge.

Registration is now open for the competition at Purdue 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. The competition is sponsored locally by the Krannert School of Management’s Jane Brock-Wilson Women in Management Center and the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship.

Purdue alumni, students, faculty and staff; greater Lafayette community members; and members of the WomenIN initiative are welcome to apply. Participants have until April 30 to submit a two-page executive summary and 20-page business plan for their ideas to Entries will be judged based on their measurable impact on the lives of women and families, potential for commercialization, and filling a need in the marketplace. The Purdue finalist will win $5,000 and a chance to advance to the national InnovateHER Challenge to compete for cash prizes totaling $70,000.

Purdue Foundry’s WomenIN program offers resources and a support network to empower aspiring women in technology and scalable entrepreneurship throughout Indiana.

“Statistics show that more than 50 percent of all women in the United States are working and that they now actually outnumber men in the civilian, non-institutional workforce,” said Juliana Casavan, entrepreneurial programs manager for Purdue Foundry and InnovateHER Challenge by WomenIN co-director. “Additionally, about 70 percent of women with children under 18 participate in the workforce. The demands placed on women and their families have never been greater. This competition presents an opportunity to address those demands through innovative products and services.”

Five local finalists will be announced May 9. They will pitch their ideas to a panel of judges May 23 at Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship. The winner will receive $5,000 and will be submitted to the national competition to compete for $70,000 in prizes. National winners will be announced July 31.

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.

Visit for more information about the challenge.

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, local competitions held by universities, business accelerators, SBA resource partners and others each choose 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,

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