President has announced a second and expanded version of InnovateHER
Building on the success of the SBA’s inaugural 2015 InnovateHER Business Challenge, which we piloted in early 2015, Administrator Contreras-Sweet and the Office of Women’s Business Ownership are pleased to announce the launch of the SBA’s InnovateHER 2016: Innovating for Women Business Challenge in partnership with Microsoft. The InnovateHER Challenge is a national prize competition aimed at unearthing products and services that impact and empower the lives of women and families through local business competitions that culminate in a live pitch Final Round. Through this Challenge, the SBA is looking for entrepreneurs to create a product or service that (1) has a measurable impact on the lives of women and families, (2) has the potential for commercialization, and (3) fills a need in the marketplace.
Background: The first InnovateHER Challenge ran on a short timeline, from February through May, 2015, with the InnovateHER Finals held in Washington, D.C. on May 8, 2015. Despite the compressed schedule, we successfully engaged over 100 local host organizations and reached over 1,000 entrepreneurs across the nation during year one, awarding $30,000 in prize money provided by Microsoft to the Top Three Winners. We heard from participants and stakeholders that with more lead time, we could engage even more local organizations and entrepreneurs and spur greater conversation, collaboration, and cooperation at all levels to support women, families, and entrepreneurs.
By launching much earlier this year, we’re giving host organizations a full four months (vs. one month) to host local InnovateHER competitions. We’re also excited to announce that this year’s Challenge more than doubles the prize money -- offering up to $70,000 in cash prizes provided by Microsoft-- and will combine the national Finals with a larger Women’s Summit to be held in the Washington, D.C. metro area on March 16-17, 2016.