InnovateHER Competition Winner Announced

Winner of InnovateHer Competition with judges

A Lewiston resident submitted the winning business plan to New Ventures Maine, (NVME), host of a 2016 InnovateHER competition.  Debra Anne Matthews’ proposal for a Lymphatic Retreat Center will now be forwarded to the Small Business Administration, the competition sponsor, to compete for cash prizes at the national level.


The InnovateHER challenge taking place throughout the country, is an opportunity for entrepreneurs to contribute to addressing unique challenges facing  women and girls in positive, creative ways. Women are almost half (49%) of  Maine’s workforce and 61% of women are working; most children live in homes where one or both parents work; and as the oldest state in the nation, caregivers and seniors alike are facing new challenges in meeting the demands of work and family life.


Business proposals were judged on how well they met contest criteria and the overall quality of their business plan. To be considered, a business has to have a measurable impact on the lives of women and families; the potential for commercialization; and demonstrate that it fills a need in the marketplace.


Judges included:

  • Kristine Shuman, Business Development Manager, MidCoast Regional Redevelopment Authority
  • Lee Cheever, Operations Manager, Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development
  • Sarah Ruef-Lindquist, Chief Executive Officer, the Maine Women’s Fund
  • Wendy Estabrook, Director of Human Resources Shared Services at L.L.Bean

Ms. Matthews business  will provide a ‘bridge between traditional medicine and complementary therapies and products’ and will offer a service that adds to a woman’s knowledge of her health and help her face the stressors of daily life. As the winner  of the NVME challenge, Ms. Matthews will have the chance to win cash prizes (1st place – $40,000, 2nd place – $20,000, 3rd place– $10,000) at the InnovateHER final challenge to be held in Washington D.C. in March, 2016.


“The Lymphatice Retreat Center has a good potential for commercializing and providing a positive service and experience that can benefit women,” concluded the contest judges.


The Women’s Business Center at CEI is also hosting an InnovateHER competition, giving Maine a chance to send two contestants to compete at the national level.


For more information, contact Eloise Vitelli, Director of Program and Policy, New Ventures Maine, 621-3432 or at evitelli@maine.edu.