InnovateHER 2017: Innovating for Women Business Challenge

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s InnovateHER Challenge is a business competition to identify, recognize, and reward excellence in entrepreneurs. The Challenge was created on the idea that our nation’s workforce looks very different from 50 years ago. Woman 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’s ages, families are increasingly caring for aging parents while balancing the needs of work and home. As the demands on woman and families from, the need for products and services that address these unique challenges increases. SBA InnovateHER provides that platform.

The goal of the Challenge is to showcase products and services that (1) have a measurable impact on the lives of woman and families; (2) Have the potential for commercialization; and (3) fill a need in the marketplace.

The 2017 InnovateHER Challenge is a national prize competition that culminates in a live pitch Final Round. The winner of the St. Charles County InnovateHER Challenge will be submitted and reviewed by the SBA for admittance into the national InnovateHER Semi-Finals.  Up to ten (10) InnovateHER Finalists, will be invited to compete for $70,000 in cash prizes provided by The Sarah Blakely Foundation.

What do winners of the St. Charles County InnovateHER competition receive?

The winner will receive a $1,000 cash prize.

SBA will review all semi-finalists nomination packages submitted by the local competition host organizations and select up to ten (10) finalists. The finalists will be invited to Washington, D.C. to participate in the national InnovateHER Challenge scheduled for September 2017, where they will make a live marketing pitch to a panel of expert judges drawn from the private sectors and compete for up to $70,000 in cash prizes.

Participation in 2017 St. Charles County InnovateHER Woman Business Challenge

Applicants will be required to submit a complete business plan to be eligible for semi-final consideration. SBA also set the following guidelines:

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 or    team of such individual; 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. Individuals submitting on behalf of corporations, nonprofits, or groups of individuals (such as an academic class or other team) must meet the eligibility requirements for individual contestants, see #1
  3. An individual may belong to more than one team submitting an entry in this Challenge.
  4. SBA employees are not eligible, nor are federal entities or Federal employees acting within the scope of their employment.
  5. Individuals or organizations that are currently suspended or disbarred by the federal government are not eligible for this Challenge.

Special Note:  Both females and males are eligible to participate as long as criteria are met.

Structure and Schedule

Sign up Deadline: Open enrollment until June 2nd, 2017.  Contestants submit a summary of why and how their business meets the 3 goals of the Challenge:

1. Showcase products and services that have a measurable impact on the lives of woman and families (30%)

2. Have the potential for commercialization (40%)

3. Fill a need in the Marketplace (30%)

Decision on Advancement to Business Plan Phase

Applicants will be immediately reviewed for competition eligibility and ability to meet the Challenge goals.  Those applicants that satisfy these criteria will be advanced to the business plan phase of the competition.


Entry and Business Plan Submission Deadline: June 2, 2017 @ 11:59pm

Evaluation Start Date: June 3, 2017 (Competition evaluators start reviewing Executive Summaries and Business Plans)

Evaluation Deadline:  June 8, 2017 (Evaluators and host organizations make final selection of Contestants who advance to the live pitch and panel interview.)

Announcement of the finalists: June 8, 2017 @ 5:00pm (Qualifying contestants informed of their advancement to final phase and  begin preparing pitch for final event.)

Final Pitch Event Date: June 12, 2017 starting at 3:00pm (Selected contestants participate in live pitch and panel interview. Contestants must address the connection between their business and the goals of InnovateHER.)

*SBTDC Business Plan Workshop: May 15th, 2017 @ 1PM. Register for workshop at EDC Business and Community Partners – 636.229.5276*