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SBDC Hosts Local Competition for InnovateHER Challenge

InnovateHER 2016 logo

The Illinois Small Business Development Center at Champaign County EDC is proud to host an initial round of the Small Business Administration’s InnovateHER Business Challenge, a $70,000 prize competition designed to unearth innovative products and services that help impact and empower the lives of women and families!

The workforce looks very different than it did 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 both parents work. 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 also grows. The InnovateHER Competition provides the platform to help realize these solutions!

About the Program

The SBA is looking for innovative products and services that help impact and empower the lives of women and families. Contestants must develop a product or service that meets the following three Challenge criteria:

  • Has a measurable impact on the lives of women and families (30%);
  • Has the potential for commercialization (40%); and
  • Fills a need in the marketplace (30%)

This Challenge is open only to: (1) citizens or permanent residents of the United States who are at least eighteen (18) years of age at the time of their submission of an entry (or teams of such individuals); and (2) private entities, such as corporations or other organizations, that are incorporated in and maintain a primary place of business in the United States. Note: Both females and males are eligible to participate as long as criteria are met.

The initial round of the challenge will take the form of local competitions. Here’s how to apply for the initial round hosted by the Illinois SBDC at Champaign County EDC:

To apply: Submit a one-page summary outlining how the business meets the Challenge criteria above and addresses the competition’s goal of improving the lives of women and girls along with a business plan of no more than 20 pages (including attachments) to:

Illinois SBDC at Champaign County EDC
1817 S. Neil St., Champaign, IL 61820
Attn: Don Elmore

Include your individual or company name, address, phone, and email address.
Electronic submissions (PDF) are encouraged! Email your submission to

Deadline for submitting an application has been extended to noon on Tuesday, November 24, 2015. Local prize money will be awarded thanks to our generous sponsors: Busey, Stephens & Stull P.C., and Serra Ventures.

A judging panel will review submissions and select finalists. Finalists and our winning nominee will be announced no later than December 2.

For more information about the competition or for assistance in developing a business plan, contact us!

First place winners from local competitions will advance to the semifinal and final rounds of the Challenge administered by the Small Business Administration. Competition semifinalists will be announced in January 2016 by the SBA, and the three leading finalists will be announced in March 2016.

Prizes for final round winners:

Cash prizes for final round competitors totaling $70,000 will be awarded to the three highest-rated contestants in the final round of the Challenge in the following amounts:

  • 1st Place – $40,000
  • 2nd Place – $20,000
  • 3rd Place – $10,000

Use the following links for more information about the program and a complete list of competition rules.

InnovateHER 2016 Challenge Summary
InnovateHER 2016 Challenge Rules
InnovateHER 2016 Challenge FAQ