The IDEA Competition has concluded its 2020-2021 season by naming and awarding one overall winner and four runners-up in the annual competition that aims to support northwest Minnesota entrepreneurs in turning their great ideas into great businesses.
The winner of the competition was Kelly Van Ert of Bemidji, whose concept for the Secure & Safe Shower Zone was awarded a $7,500 cash prize, a $5,000 in-kind award of engineering and technical writing services from LVI, and a $5,000 in-kind award with HSML Law in Minneapolis for patent and trademark legal services.
The Secure & Safe Shower Zone is a shower system consisting of two main components: magnetic gripped shower sleeves that can be placed around and adjusted to fit a variety of commonly used shower items such as, handheld shower heads, bottles of shampoo, conditioners, and body washes. The second element of this shower system includes an adjustable large magnetic board that can be attached anywhere on a shower wall. This allows users to easily place and replace shower items anywhere on their board within convenient reach.
“This year’s IDEA winner, Safe & Secure Shower Zone, has the potential to positively impact the lives of the elderly and persons with reduced mobility, to make showering safer and easier, giving them and their family peace of mind,” said Rachel Lundbohm, one of the IDEA Competition judges.
Van Ert is an occupational therapist who has worked professionally with all ages and has seen the need to better, more safely equip showers for those striving to concern energy and live as independently as possible, whether they live in their own homes, in assisted-living or skilled-nursing facilities.
Van Ert said the support she has received through the IDEA Competition and the Northwest Small Business Development Center has been invaluable in providing a timeline while supporting and encouraging her throughout the business-development process.
“They understand the idea and the meaning behind the invention and understand how it will be a useful product,” Van Ert said. “It’s fun to see those people get excited about it, to see that it makes sense. I’ve been really thankful for (the IDEA Competition). It’s been an amazing experience.”