MICA Announces $600,000 Ratcliffe Foundation Grant to Support Future Creative Entrepreneurs

Pitch Competition Will Award up to $100,000 for up to Five Winning Teams in April

BALTIMORE--MICA has been awarded a three-year, $600,000 grant from the Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation to launch the development of Up/Start MICA, a college-wide entrepreneurship initiative that will capitalize on the unique talents of the college's students and recent graduates.

"We are greatly impressed with President Samuel Hoi's vision to encourage entrepreneurship among the students and alumni at one of the nation's finest arts and design schools," said James D. Wright, co-trustee of the Ratcliffe Foundation. "Our Foundation's mission is aligned with the goals and ideals of this worthy endeavor and that's why we are devoting such a significant amount of funding to MICA. We believe the school's creative thinkers are poised to develop some of the most innovative business ideas, and we look forward to a long and rewarding relationship with MICA, and its faculty, staff and students."

MICA will use the funds to establish programming and provide guidance, support, tools and investment resources-of up to $100,000 annually-to students and recent graduates who are looking to grow businesses or launch startups.

"We are extremely thankful to the Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation for funding an initiative to support the development of our artists and designers and help them incubate or scale enterprises," MICA President Samuel Hoi said. "The grant further cements MICA's commitment to position our students and alumni for achievement and impact on ever-expanding platforms, and to foster their creativity through entrepreneurship. This funding adds to the already rich services of MICA's Joseph Meyerhoff Center for Career Development and Entrepreneurship-In-Residency program. Baltimore and the world beyond can look forward to an array of innovative, successful new businesses that this gift will help germinate."

This past fall, award-winning business owner and serial entrepreneur Monyka Berrocosa joined MICA as its "Entrepreneurship Evangelist." Berrocosa's role is key to the success of this initiative, working directly with students and alumni by providing expert business guidance and advice, workshops, and cultivating resources and relationships to further the reach for these burgeoning ideas.

Berrocosa, whose forward-thinking approach to entrepreneurship has garnered media coverage and TED Talk invitations, is impressed by the ideas, talent and creativity of MICA's business-minded creatives.

"The first cohort is spectacularly promising," Berrocosa said. "From MODERNature, a business that grows sprouts for local restaurants, using sustainable materials such as coconut husks, to Pi, an app that provides users with a beautifully designed visual representation of how their days are spent, our students are proposing high-tech, disruptive concepts that have the potential to change for the better how the world works, lives and plays. The intersection of design and innovation is alive and well, and our students and their ventures prove that."

MICA's students and graduates-tomorrow's leaders-are eager to produce a positive social impact, as well as financial return, with their new ventures. "And the world needs what they can produce," Berrocosa said. "Anyone who underestimates the value of creatives in today's economy is going to be left behind."

In addition to the workshops and trainings, students and alumni participated in a "boot camp" with Berrocosa and other experts to help nurture the evolution of their ideas from concepts to viable businesses needed in Baltimore and around the world.

In February, MICA held a Pop Up & Pitch event that attracted more than 30 alumni and student applicants. The eight winners of that pitch event will compete in April for investment funding to start or grow their enterprises. Up to five winning concepts will be awarded a maximum of $20,000 each in investment capital, with support from the Ratcliffe grant.

MICA's approach to creative entrepreneurship is among the first in the field of art and design education.