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InnovateHer Challenge Competition


The U.S. Small Business Administration is looking for innovative products and services that help impact and empower the lives of women and families. The U.S. 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 the demands on women and families grow, the need for products and services that address these unique challenges increases.

This Challenge will provide a platform to fulfill that need. 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%).


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. An individual may belong to more than one team submitting an entry in this Challenge. SBA employees are not eligible, nor are Federal entities or Federal employees acting within the scope of their employment. Individuals or organizations that are currently suspended or disbarred by the federal government are not eligible for this Challenge.

Selection process:

The initial round of the Challenge will take the form of local competitions that will be run across the country ending no later than June 3, 2017, by host organizations such as universities, accelerators, clusters, scale-up communities, SBA Resource Partners. While these local competitions will be identified as part of the national InnovateHER Challenge and will be conducted in a manner that is consistent with these Challenge Rules, they will be administered solely by the local host organizations and will be judged by individuals selected by each host in their sole discretion. At a minimum, however, each application must contain a business plan covering the contestant’s proposed product or service and must satisfy the Challenge criteria identified by SBA (above).

Prize for Winners:

Drexel will nominate one competitor to the national Challenge but will not be providing any prize awards itself. Cash prizes totaling $70,000 will be awarded by the SBA to the three highest-rated contestants in the final round of the national Challenge in the following amounts:

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

For winning entries submitted by teams of competitors, prize money will be awarded to the self-identified project leader for distribution to the rest of the team at their discretion and independently from SBA.

Drexel initial round selection process:

  • Open to any current Drexel student, recent graduate (two years) or faculty member. Applicant can be any gender.
  • Applicants must provide a concise, two-sentence description of the product or service and provide a business plan (maximum length: 20 pages, including attachments); plans should be emailed to
  • Drexel will provide a free six-month subscription to LivePlan that can be used to develop a business plan and will provide plan review services. Contact more details.
  • The business plan must satisfy the Challenge criteria identified by SBA
  • Business plan submission deadline: May 25 at midnight
  • Business plan presentation, judging and selection: June 1 (time TBD)

Full challenge details are available here.