Jump to Main Content
USA flagAn Official Website of the United States Government

Office of Women's Business Ownership

InnovateHER: 2015 Innovating for Women Business Challenge

InnovateHER: Innovating for Women Business Challenge

Launched in 2015, InnovateHER is a cross-cutting women's business challenge to unearth innovative products and services that help impact and empower the lives of women and families.

Did you know...?  57% of working age women participate in the labor force.  74% of employed women work full-time.  70% of working women have children under 18 years old. -2013 US Dept of Labor StatisticsWe know that our workforce looks very different from 50 years ago. Women now make up nearly half of the labor force and play a critical role in our nation’s economic prosperity. Most children live in households where all parents work. And as our population ages, families are increasingly caring for aging parents while balancing the needs of work and home. As demands on women and families grow, the need for products and services that address unique challenges increases. This Challenge provides that platform.  Stay tuned for details on SBA's 2016 InnovateHER Challenge.

Congratulations to the 2015 InnovateHER Winners!

On May 8, 2015, Administrator Contreras-Sweet and the SBA’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership announced the Top Three Winners of the SBA's inaugural InnovateHER Challenge. An executive committee of SBA officials reviewed nearly 75 semi-finalists’ nomination packages and selected 15 finalists whose products and services best met the competition criteria and presented the greatest potential for success.  Those 15 finalists were invited to travel to Washington, D.C. for a live pitch competition on May 8, 2015 before a panel of expert judges, where they competed for the Top Three spots and prize money totaling $30,000 provided by InnovateHER sponsor Microsoft. 

1st place Bethany Edwards, Pregnancy Test, Philadelphia, Pa.

LIA Diagnostics has designed a pregnancy test to provide a better experience for women at a stressful moment in their lives.  The LIA test is discreet, easy to use and is environmentally friendly.  Unlike current tests, LIA is flushable, ergonomically designed for women to hold and use, and displays a result that is easy to understand.

2nd place – Lisa Crites, The Shower Shirt, Cocoa Beach, Fla.

The SHOWER SHIRT™ is a post-surgical, patented, water-resistant garment designed to prevent post-surgical mastectomy drain sites from coming into contact with water while showering.  With the creation of The SHOWER SHIRT, women now have the option to shower safely, while also reducing their risk of post-surgical infections.

3rd place Sophia Berman, Trusst Lingerie, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Trusst Lingerie has developed effective and attractive products aimed at eliminating the pain and discomforts experienced by the underserved U.S. market of larger busted woman with cup size DDD+.  Current bra technology supports larger breasts from the shoulder straps.  Trusst’s cantilevered system places the majority of the support from underneath the bust, encompassing up to 80 percent of breast weight.

Challenge Criteria

  Website listing approved childcare providers in your zip code.  Fresh, healthy ingredients mailed to your door.InnovateHER provides an opportunity for entrepreneurs to showcase products and services that have a measurable impact on the lives of women and families (30%), have the potential for commercialization (40%), and fill a need in the marketplace (30%).

Participants must be at least 18 years of age, U.S. citizens or permanent residents, and meet other requirements as defined in the Competition Rules

How It Works

Initial Round - Local Competitions: During the initial round of InnovateHER, host organizations such as SBA Resource Partners, universities, accelerators, incubators, scale-up communities, other economic development organizations, and Microsoft stores run local business competitions across the country. Each competition applies the eligibility criteria as defined by SBA, and the competition must be identified as part of the national Challenge.  It is up to each host to determine the type of local competition that will best identify the most innovative and entrepreneurial business ideas, including the type of application that individuals need to prepare in order to compete.  

During the first year of InnovateHER, we held over 100 local competitions reaching over 1,000 entrepreneurs across the U.S.  Host organizations included SBA Resource Partners, universities, incubators, accelerators, economic development organizations, and Microsoft stores. 

View a map of the 2015 InnovateHER host organizations 

Semi-Finalist Round: Each host organization will select one local winner and submit a nomination package containing a cover sheet, support statement, and business plan from each semi-finalist to SBA.  An Executive Committee at SBA will then narrow down the semi-finalists to approximately 10 national finalists.
Final National Pitch Competition: The national finalists are provided the opportunity to conduct a live marketing pitch to a team of expert judges drawn from the private sector. The national finalists are responsible for covering their own travel costs for the national competition.


More Questions?


Cosponsorship authorization No. 15-6050-91.  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.  Contact: Jessica Wager, SBA, womenBusiness@sba.gov