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Office of Women's Business Ownership

2016 InnovateHER: Innovating for Women Business Summit and Challenge

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  News Release



Release Date: January 21, 2016


Release Number: 16-02

Internet Address: http://www.sba.gov/news

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SBA Names Finalists for InnovateHER Business Challenge

10 Game Changing Entrepreneurs Selected to Pitch Their Innovative Products and Services During Women’s History Month

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) today announced the finalists of the 2016 InnovateHER: Innovating for Women Business Challenge, a 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: “From precision medicine to agriculture to science, technology, engineering and mathematics, America’s entrepreneurs are transforming society and creating businesses that promise to be game changers. The incredible talent and ability of these 10 finalists is boundless and their creativity sends a message that is loud and clear: American entrepreneurs are launching and growing businesses across all fields of endeavor that will disrupt the status quo and improve lives around the world. Finding and rewarding these visionaries is the message of InnovateHER. Entrepreneurship makes anything possible.”

An executive committee of SBA officials reviewed more than 180 semi-finalist nominations and selected 10 finalists whose products and services best met the competition criteria and presented the greatest potential for success.

“I am honored to announce the finalists of the second round of the SBA’s InnovateHER Business Challenge, building on the success of our 2015 challenge where we engaged over 100 organizations and reached over 1,000 entrepreneurs across the nation,” added Contreras-Sweet.

The SBA congratulates the following finalists, who will have the opportunity to compete for the top three awards totaling $70,000 in prize money provided by Microsoft:

  • Dr. Agnes Scoville from Scoville & Company (Pacidose), St. Louis, Mo.: Pacidose allows mothers and caregivers to accurately dose and deliver medicine to babies through a soft pacifier nipple.
  • 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.
  • Susan 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.
  • Dawn Dickson from Flat Out of Heels, Miami Beach, Fla.: Flat Out of Heels are a convenient way for women to relieve stiletto sore feet on the go.
  • Elizabeth Caven from UpCraft Club, Des Moines, Iowa: UpCraft Club is changing the way digital goods are found and sold using a patent-pending process allowing brick and mortar retailers to receive revenue from the sale of a digital good.

These 10 finalists are invited to the National InnovateHER: Innovating for Women Business Challenge during Women’s History Month in Washington, D.C., where they will pitch their products and ideas to a panel of expert judges.

The 2016 InnovateHER: Innovating for Women Business Challenge was launched in August 2015 with over 200 local competitions across the country hosted by universities, accelerators, clusters, scale-up communities, SBA’s resource partners and other local community organizations. The SBA sought to unearth products or services that will fill a need in the marketplace and have the greatest potential for commercialization.

For details on the competition, visit www.sba.gov/innovateHER. This site will be updated as more information regarding the event is made available.


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.

Women are in the workforce now more than ever, a number that is close to surpassing that of men. Gender equality is not simply about getting a woman a spot at the metaphorical table. Women have made great strides in education, the workforce, and their role in the economy, but there are still not enough women in leadership positions.
SBA recognizes that over the past two decades, women entrepreneurs have been critical to growing businesses and creating jobs, whether it’s in in cutting-edge fields like precision medicine or cybersecurity or through advances in agriculture or manufacturing.  Consider this: the number of women venture capital partners has dropped to 6 percent in 2014, down from 10 percent in 1999. This directly correlated with women’s access to capital; only about 7 percent of venture capital funding in the United States goes to women. A Harvard Business School study asked potential investors to rate a series of pitches, some of which were narrated by women and some by men. Even when the scripts were exactly the same, only 32 percent of people said they’d fund the woman, compared to 68 percent who said they would fund the man.
SBA’s InnovateHER: Innovating for Women Business Summit on March 17, 2016 in Washington, D.C. will bring together creative ideas to support women’s efforts to push the limits, break the glass ceiling and create long-term, positive changes in gender equality.  We hope that you will be able to join us to help lift women entrepreneurs as they generate innovative solutions to some of the key challenges of the 21st century.

More Questions? 

Contact us at womenbusiness@sba.gov (link sends email)

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.