At the same time a Bend sex toy creator applauded the reinstatement of an award it received at an annual gadget show, it announced the receipt of $2 million in seed money.

The Consumer Technology Association said in a statement Wednesday that it reinstated Lora DiCarlo’s CES 2019 Innovation Award in the robotics and drone category for its Osé vibrator and that it is committed to making the event more welcoming and inclusive.

An independent panel of judges had selected the gadget for the award, but organizers banned it from exhibiting at the show and disqualified it from the award because the organization had stated it prohibits products that are “immoral, obscene, indecent, profane.”

“CTA did not handle this award properly,” Jean Foster, CTA senior vice president of marketing and communications, said in a statement. “This prompted some important conversations internally and with external advisors and we look forward to taking these learnings to continue to improve the show.”

The product, developed with help from Oregon State University engineers, is a hands-free device for women.

“We appreciate this gesture from the CTA, (which has) taken an important step in the right direction to remove the stigma and embarrassment around female sexuality,” said Osé’s creator Lora Haddock. “This is a win for our engineering team, who deserve recognition for the robotic technology they developed in the making of Osé.”

Haddock had criticized the disqualification, alleging gender bias.

In addition to getting the news of the award, Haddock said the company has received seed money from new and existing investors that makes use of the Oregon Opportunity Zone Limited Partnership. Opportunity zones are areas where a state wants to encourage business investment and tax incentives are offered in return.

The seed money will enable the company to commercialize Osé. The company previously was awarded a $100,000 grant from Business Oregon and $1.1 million from the Bend-based investing fund Oregon Opportunity Zone Limited Partnership.

The company has carefully chosen to locate in opportunity zones in Corvallis and Bend to spur economic development and job creation, Haddock said in a prepared statement. The company has created 14 new full-time positions within these zones in the past year. The research and development lab for the firm is located near Oregon State University’s College of Engineering in an opportunity zone in downtown Corvallis, while its headquarters are in an opportunity zone in Bend.

“The Lora DiCarlo team is committed to pushing the technology industry forward and to embrace female, diverse, and LGBTQ innovators,” Haddock said. “We hope we can continue to be a catalyst for meaningful changes that make CES and the consumer tech industry inclusive for all.”

— Reporter: 541-633-2117, sroig@bendbulletin.com

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