Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing accepting proposals for products


The Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing is accepting proposals from competitors across the nation for products and services for an innovation challenge that seeks to empower the lives of women and families.

The local portion of the InnovateHER Competition is sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration and offers West Virginia entrepreneurs the opportunity to compete nationally with their ideas.

“Entrepreneurs and innovators in West Virginia consistently demonstrate their abilities to think outside the box, using inventive ideas that improve the lives of ordinary citizens,” said Charlotte Weber, RCBI director and CEO. “The InnovateHER Competition is a unique opportunity to recognize these contributions, reward innovators financially and assist them in bringing commercially viable ideas to market.”

Mike Friel, public information specialist at RCBI, applied through the SBA to host the competition earlier in the year, making it one of three locations in the state participating.

“The purpose is to identify products or services that have a measurable impact on the lives of women and families,” Friel said. “We are now accepting applications or challengers who have come up with some kind of innovative idea.”

Applicants must submit a brief proposal and written business plan to RCBI by Nov. 13. Five submissions will then be selected to present their ideas to the judging panel.

One local winner will then advance to a semifinal round where SBA will select the national finalist.

“Here in West Virginia, we work with businesses, inventors, entrepreneurs of all types all the time and we see all of these good ideas and commercial viable ideas, so we wanted to get involved because we saw this as a good opportunity to identify innovation,” Friel said.

This year, the top award is $40,000, second place will receive $20,000 and third place will receive $10,000.

Last fall, Trusst Lingerie won the local portion of the InnovateHER competition by creating a more comfortable bra for women with large breasts.

The InnovateHer competition is open to all individuals over the age of 18, as well as companies, non-profits or other agencies wishing to participate.

The local winner will advance to the national competition March 16 and 17 in Washington, D.C.

Kelsie Lively can be contacted at [email protected].