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Grants available to moms with innovative ideas

From staff and wire reports -   July 05, 2007

If necessity truly is the mother of invention, it's no wonder that women are to thank for many of the most widely used products in America -- windshield wipers, diapers, automatic dishwashers and more.

And moms in particular have played a significant role in giving birth to many innovative creations. Now mothers across the country can turn their ideas for inventions and businesses into reality, thanks to the Mother of Invention Grant Program, a competition that awards entrepreneurial moms with money and the tools they need to turn good ideas into viable businesses.

Inspiration can hit at just about any time for moms who run their own homes -- be it when making the beds, doing laundry, preparing dinner, running a home-based business, or churning out school and work lunches like a short order cook on an assembly line.

Indeed, according to a recent survey from the Center for Women's Business Research, approximately half a million women across the country run their own ventures, and over one third of them have children under the age of 18 living at home.

With this in mind, Whirlpool brand launched The Mother of Invention Grant Program to help educate and support these entrepreneurial thinkers. The competition will award five ingenious moms with the resources -- such as seed money, appliances and expert advice -- that are necessary to get a business up and running. The program's prizes are collectively valued at $68,500.

The call for entries is open until July 30, 2007. Moms interested in applying should visit to view program details and information on previous winners. No idea or invention is too small or too big to win, as judges are looking for ideas that offer unique solutions to unmet needs.

Of course, it helps if your idea has a "wow moment" story behind its creation.

Last year's Grand Prize Winner, Mary Anne Amato, was a mom with a particularly bright idea. Today, she is the owner of an established business marketing her innovation nationwide. Her creation, the "Quick Change Crib," puts an end to the cumbersome struggle of changing crib sheets by giving parents direct access to the crib's mattress so sheets can be changed simply by sliding the mattress out and back into the crib.

Amato was awarded a $20,000 grant for her invention and got to attend a business boot camp with expert-led workshops in such areas as product development, business strategy, legal issues, accounting and marketing.

"Moms everywhere dream of solutions to help with our everyday tasks, but turning them into actual products and businesses is another story," explained Amato. "Aside from the $20,000 grant, the business boot camp was a great learning experience which gave me access to product and marketing experts who answered questions and provided usable real world experiences."

Among those judging the 2007 entries are some entrepreneurial moms themselves. Julie Aigner-Clark, creator of Baby Einstein and co-founder of The Safe Side, a provider of programs to help children stay safe, will be joined by other guest judges, Stephanie Allen and Tina Kuna, co-founders of Dream Dinners, the originator of fix-and-freeze dinner assembly stores which offers a timesaving method of healthy meal preparation.

"Mothers around the country apply ingenuity and creativity to their daily lives, helping to make parenting and caring for the home easier. With the many roles that moms play, it can be difficult to find time and resources needed to channel that entrepreneurial spirit into a full-fledged business," said Aigner-Clark. "Each year, the Whirlpool brand Mother of Invention Grant program provides the necessary tools to women to have ingenious ideas that come from their experience as mothers."

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