MICA's Ratcliffe Center for Creative Entrepreneurship Awards Over 100k at 2023 UP/Start Finale

As announced on April 10, $105,000 was awarded to eight finalists at the 2023 UP/Start Venture Competition at MICA.

UP/Start is an initiative of the Ratcliffe Center for Creative Entrepreneurship (RCCE), focused on incubating and building creative business ventures within the MICA community. Working with industry partners, UP/Start provides mentorship and capital to help nurture ideas into sustainable businesses. This year’s finalists featured an array of diverse ventures ranging from products for millennial families, multi-functional fashion, and a doll product for adult collectors. 

The competition's judges, Takia Ross, Maggie Villegas, Jim Wright, and Joseph Ferlise, reviewed business and financial plans from the eight finalists, scoring each venture based on a private pitch and Q&A, while a People’s Choice winner was awarded by the audience at the finale event. 

The RCCE is pleased to announce $105,000 in funding awarded to the following ventures:

  • $30,000 to ORA the Brand - Elana Wallach ’23 (Fiber BFA)
  • $20,000 to Baldridge Studios - Natalie Bates ’22 (Business of Art & Design, Entrepreneurship MPS), and Addison Baldridge
  • $20,000 to Chimaera - Angela McQuillan ’22 (Business of Art & Design, Entrepreneurship MPS)
  • $6,000 and $5,000 People's Choice to Oopsduck - Gabriel Chez ’22 (Interactive Arts BFA), Chloe Azcuy ’24 (Interactive Arts BFA), Matthew Grand ’24 (Graphic Design BFA), and Alex Rosales.
  • $6,000 to Darling City - Laura Akromas ’23 (Business of Art & Design, Entrepreneurship MPS)
  • $6,000 to Nocrastination - Natasha Fray ’23 (Design Leadership MA/MBA)
  • $6,000 to Endless Dolls - Kendra Bray ’23 (Business of Art & Design, Entrepreneurship MPS)
  • $6,000 to e-Sprouts, Ellis Edwards ’22 (Animation BFA)

UP/Start finalists now have the opportunity to move their venture from ideation to implementation at MICA’s new Creative Entrepreneurship Innovation Lab (CEINNOV), funded by the Ratcliffe Foundation. CEINNOV will function as a hub for MICA students and alumni to “soft launch”  their creative entrepreneurship ventures and learn how to share their creative practices while generating income through their work. CEINNOV also hopes to curb the venture competition dropoff that can happen after completing a pitch program. Students and alumni part of MICA’s Creative Entrepreneurship co-curricular programs now have the ability to move from the classroom directly into a market ready educational space located in a Baltimore based entrepreneurship ecosystem to incubate at the Baltimore Innovation Center (BIC)

The launch of the CEINNOV pilot program will be presented at the 2023 Society for Arts Entrepreneurship Education (SAEE) Conference on Friday, April 14 from 12:30-12:55 p.m.. To learn more and to register, click here

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About Phillip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation:

Phil and Carole Ratcliffe created the foundation in 2003 with a vision to provide access to education & training for aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners to grow their ventures, create jobs, and expand economic opportunities in local communities.