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SBA Names Top Winners of 2016 InnovateHER Business Competition

Release Date: 
Thursday, March 17, 2016
Release Number: 
Miguel Ayala (202) 205-6420

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Small Business Administration today announced the winners of the 2016 InnovateHER: Innovating for Women Business Challenge, its nationwide business competition to highlight innovative products and services created and launched by cutting-edge entrepreneurs.

In making the announcement, SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet said: “SBA created this challenge to empower women in the face of ongoing gender inequities in the technology and investment sectors. Women venture capital partners are stuck below 10 percent. The amount of venture capital funding that goes to women entrepreneurs is even lower — only about 4 percent.  On behalf of SBA, I congratulate all of our winners and contestants.  Their incredible talent is proof that America’s small businesses and entrepreneurs are launching and growing businesses that not only disrupt the status quo but have the power to improve countless lives.”

The second round of the InnovateHER Business Challenge began in August 2015 and drew nearly 2,000 competitors.  Today’s live pitch competition took place before a panel of expert judges that included Nely Galan, JJ Ramberg, and Lisa Price.

The following winners were selected after the live pitch competition of the 2016 InnovateHER: Innovating for Women Business Challenge and took home the top three prizes, totaling $70,000, provided by Microsoft:

1st Place - $40,000 award winner

Elizabeth Caven from UpCraft Club, Des Moines, Iowa

2nd Place - $20,000 award winner


Dawn Dickson from Flat Out of Heels, Miami Beach, Fla.

3rd Place - $10,000 award winner

Dr. Agnes Scoville from Scoville & Company (Pacidose), St. Louis, Mo.

Other finalists: 

  • Anna Daily from Ascendant DX LLC (Melody), Springdale, Ark.: Melody is a simple and highly effective diagnostic to detect early stage breast cancer by identifying specific proteins present in tears. 
  • Jennifer Shipp from Brilliant Inventors LLC (Knife Glider), Mission, Texas: The Knife Glider is a cutting shield that has been statistically proven to reduce the probability of being injured or cut when preparing food with a knife by more than 90 percent. 
  • Sascha Mayer from Mamava, Inc., Burlington, Vt.: Mamava makes freestanding lactation suites and other design solutions for nursing mothers on the go. 
  • Marissa Siebel-Siero from IntelliWheels, Inc. (Tinker), Champaign, Ill.: Tinker is the first ever 3D product configurator in the wheelchair marketplace that gives customers feedback and control.  
  • Susanne Leary Shoemaker from Undercare, Inc., Bronxsville, N.Y.: Undercare offers innovative undergarments that accommodate persons who have difficulty dressing.   
  • Cassandra Curtis from Once Upon a Farm, San Diego, Calif.: Once Upon a Farm creates quality, eco-friendly and nutritious baby food products for children. 
  • Dr. Pu Wang from Vibronix, Inc. (MarginPAT), West Lafayette, Ind.: MarginPAT is an intraoperative assessment of breast tumor margin using photo acoustic/ultrasound imaging system. 

Today’s pitch competition was followed by Women & Business: An Atlantic Exchange, a national symposium in association with The Atlantic, allowing women-owned small businesses to explore and learn about available tools and resources, to identify the keys to promoting entrepreneurship, and to make connections to other successful women entrepreneurs.  The event highlighted the skills, strategy, outlook, and connections women need to own and run profitable businesses.

Additional information on the competition challenge, including host organizations, competition rules, and video of the event will be available online at


Cosponsorship authorization No. 15-6050-169. SBA’s participation in this cosponsored activity is not an endorsement of the views, opinions, products, or services of any cosponsor or other person or entity. All SBA programs and services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Reasonable arrangements for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance.