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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Whirlpool's Mother of Invention Winners Announced

I posted a blog entry to announce the Mother of Invention contest sponsored by Whirlpool a couple months ago, and wanted to do a follow up to let people know who the winners were. Unfortunately it wasn't me. Maybe next year though! HOWEVER, of note is top 30 finalist Jonelle Davis of Chandler, AZ, who I've featured before on my blog for her awesome first day of school fairy product!

Here's the press release:

From Temperature-Controlled Medicine Pack to Tools for Parents and Pet Owners, Moms Thought of It
And Winners Benefit with Grant, Prizes and Education

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. – Sept. 18, 2008 – Passion, dedication and creativity are just some of the qualities that moms and inventors share. The 2008 Whirlpool brand Mother of Invention program is awarding more than $40,000 to five mompreneurs to help jump-start their businesses.

Developed four years ago, the Mother of Invention Grant program helps moms bring their innovative ideas to fruition with not only monetary resources but key business lessons. While this program was designed to help moms grow and recognize their potential, executives at Whirlpool have watched the program grow as well. With a commitment to eco-efficiency, the brand added a green category in 2008 to recognize moms who created an environmentally-friendly product/service or used natural/recycled materials to create their invention.

“This year, the number of submissions increased by more than 20 percent,” said Audrey Reed-Granger, director of public relations for Whirlpool brand. “We are very proud of the caliber of entries received and noticed an increase in the progress these inventors have achieved, with business models, prototypes and patents.”

This year’s grand prize winner is Estelle Keeter, an ordained pastor from Matteson, Ill. who developed MEDPACK, a temperature-controlled case for medicines. MEDPACK’s insulated case contains a cooling mechanism that keeps oral medications, such an insulin and antibiotics, refrigerated for up to 12 hours.

“Moms can make a difference,” said Keeter, who will receive a $20,000 business grant to help her execute plans for her invention. “With the MEDPACK, I hope to improve the lives of those who depend on medication everyday.”

As a diabetic, Keeter uses insulin to control her diabetes and often had to use bulky lunch packs to keep her medication cold. Keeter, who also is an elementary school teacher, watched as her students would struggle to put their medication in the school cafeteria refrigerator as well as putting her own medication in the teacher’s lounge refrigerator. Often, she wished she was able to have a little more privacy. As a result, Keeter created MEDPACK, which keeps her medication cold from the comfort of her briefcase or purse.

In addition to the grant, Keeter will receive choice of a Whirlpool® Duet® Steam washer and dryer pair or Whirlpool® Cabrio® washer and steam dryer, a Whirlpool® dishwasher and a $3,000 stipend for a new home office. Keeter and four additional winners will have the opportunity to attend a Whirlpool business boot camp at Whirlpool headquarters in Benton Harbor, Mich., since the program was based off Whirlpool Corporation’s innovation process. The bootcamp will include a tour of Whirlpool facilities and product labs, and a roundtable discussion with Whirlpool innovation experts and this year’s guest judges.

This year, entrepreneurial moms Julie Aigner-Clark, creator of Baby Einstein and co-founder of The Safe Side, and Lori Pope, creator of BabyPlays.com, served as guest judges for the program. Whirlpool brand also worked with its past grand prize winner of the 2006 Mother of Invention program, Mary Anne Amato, inventor of the Quick Change Crib, to serve as a judge.

“In my first year participating with this program, I was truly impressed with the progress and creativity these moms have made with their inventions,” said Pope. "This program serves as a reminder that moms are truly some of the best inventors."

Additional awards and winners include:

Traditional Category

First Prize: $7,000 grant, Whirlpool brand dishwasher and Duet Sport® laundry pair
Cameo McGraw-Horton of Bothell, Wash. created improvements to a pet leash which offers flexibility for owners and added safety for animals when walking a pet.

Second Prize: $5,000 grant, a Whirlpool brand dishwasher and Duet Sport® laundry pair
· Veletta Rouse of Riviera Beach, Fla. created a product to help those with a cleft lip and palate.

Green Category

First Prize: $7,000 grant, Whirlpool brand refrigerator with water filtration
Catherine Kay of Silver Spring, Md. created a product to help with potty training.

Second Prize: $5,000 grant and a Whirlpool brand refrigerator with water filtration
· Erika Berry of Ada, Mich. created the CleanyBeany. The product will be made of recyclable materials and is a container to fit on a dog’s leash and to hold money, refuse bags and wipes, in addition to a flashlight for safety.

Information about the 2008 Whirlpool Brand Mother of Invention Grant Program, this year’s recipients and top 30 finalists is available at www.whirlpool.com/moms.