Women in Business

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InnovateHER FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

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 1. What is the purpose of the competition? 

  • The SBA is looking for innovative products and services that help impact and empower the lives of women and families. 
  • The 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. InnovateHER will provide that platform.  

2. What are the competition criteria? 

  • The SBA is looking for entrepreneurs to create a product or service that 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%). 

3. How does the competition work? 

  • The initial round of InnovateHER will take the form of local competitions that will be run across the country from December - June. The ND competition will be coordinated through Center for Technology & Business with the help of our SBA partner organizations.
  • Following the completion of the ND competition, one winner will be identified that will advance to the semi-final round of InnovateHER. Center for Technology & Business will then submit a nomination package containing a business plan from the selected ND winner to SBA by June 23, 2017.
  • In the semi-final round, an executive committee composed of SBA personnel will review the semi-finalist nomination packages submitted by the local competition host organizations and select no more than 10 finalists. 
  • Each finalist will be offered the opportunity to make a live marketing pitch to a panel of expert judges drawn from the private sector in September 2017 in Washington, D.C.
  • The panel of judges will select a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winner whose pitches best satisfy the competition criteria and present the greatest potential for success and rank them in descending order. 

4. Where can I find a complete list of the competition rules?

5. How will the North Dakota competition select a winner? 

  • Each application must complate the online application and submit a business plan covering the contestant’s proposed product or service and must satisfy the Competition criteria outlined by SBA above. 
  • The ND competition will be judged by a diverse panel of individuals from across the state. No individual acting as a judge at any stage of this Challenge may have personal or financial interests in, or be an employee, officer, director, or agent of any contestant or have a familial or financial relationship with a contestant.  

6. How do I enter the competition? 

  • Complete Part 1 of the InnovateHER application for the ND competition at http://trainingnd.com/women-owned-business/innovateher-application by 11:59 pm on June 3, 2017.
  • Email a business plan (Part 2) to info@trainingnd.com by 11:59 pm on June 3, 2017. The business plan should cover your proposed product or service and must satisfy the Competition criteria - measurable impact on the lives of women and families, has the potential for commercialization, and fills a need in the marketplace. Maximum length 20 pages, including attachments.
  • Contestants cannot submit entries directly to SBA.

7. Is there an entry fee for the competition? 

  • There is no entry fee. 

8. Who is eligible to participate in the competition? 

  • InnovateHER 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. 
  • 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. An individual may belong to more than one team, corporation, or nonprofit organization submitting an entry. 
  • SBA employees are not eligible, nor are Federal entities or Federal employees acting within the scope of their employment. 

9. Is the competition only open to women? 

  • No. The competition is open to both men and women who meet the eligibility criteria outlined above. 

10. Can I enter the competition as a group or a team? 

  • Yes. 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 outlined above. An individual may belong to more than one team, corporation, or nonprofit organization submitting an entry in. 

11. What does the winners of the ND InnovateHER challenge receive? 

  • The winner from the ND competition will have the opportunity to advance to the semi-final round of the competition. In the semi-final round, an executive committee from SBA will review the semi-finalist nomination packages submitted by the local competition host organizations and select no more than 10 finalists. Each of the 10 finalists will be offered the opportunity to make a live marketing pitch to a panel of expert judges drawn from the private sector in September 2017 in Washington, D.C. 

12. Will SBA retain nomination packages? 

  • All nomination packages and related materials provided to SBA in the semi-final and final rounds of InnovateHER automatically become SBA records and cannot be returned. Contestants should identify any confidential commercial information contained in their entries at the time of their submission. SBA will notify contestants of any Freedom of Information Act requests the Agency receives related to their submissions in accordance with 13 C.F.R. Part 102. 

13. How will the semi-finalists be announced? 

  • The ND winner and other semi-finalists from across the US will be announced at sba.gov/innovateHER

14. When/where will the final competition be held? 

  • September 2017 in Washington, D.C. 

15. Who will be judging the final competition? 

  • A panel of expert judges drawn from the private sector. 

16. How will intellectual property be treated under this competition? 

  • All entries submitted in response to InnovateHER will remain the sole intellectual property of the individuals or organizations that developed them. 
  • By registering and entering a submission, each contestant represents and warrants that it is the sole author and copyright owner of the submission, and that the submission is an original work of the contestant, or if the submission is a work based on an existing application, that the contestant has acquired sufficient rights to use and to authorize others to use the submission, and that the submission does not infringe upon any copyright or upon any other third party rights of which the contestant is aware. 

17. Will prize money be awarded as part of the final round of the competition? 

  • Cash prizes totaling $70,000 will be awarded to the three highest-rated contestants nationally in the final round of the 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. 

18. Will participants be compensated or provided with other consideration as part of publicity for the event? 

  • No. By registering and entering a submission, each contestant consents to SBA’s and its agents' use, in perpetuity, of its name, likeness, photograph, voice, opinions, and/or hometown and state information for promotional or informational purposes through any form of media, worldwide, without further payment or consideration. 

19. How can I learn more?