MICA's Ratcliffe Center for Creative Entrepreneurship Launches Innovation Lab at the Baltimore Innovation Center

The Creative Entrepreneurship Innovation Lab (CEINNOV) Will Act as Hub for Students and Alumni to “Soft Launch” Ventures

The Ratcliffe Center for Creative Entrepreneurship (RCCE) at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) announces its Creative Entrepreneurship Innovation Lab (CEINNOV) at the  Baltimore Innovation Center (BIC).

MICA RCCE Interim Director Stacy Stube was inspired to build a runway beyond the venture competition that moves the early stage creative entrepreneur from idea to implementation to iteration to innovation. Having been involved in venture and accelerator programs herself, Stube is fully aware that impact driven entrepreneurship takes mindful planning and practice to test and rebuild systems on a continuous basis. She notes that, “so often ideas are left on the shelf and fear steps in where opportunity was not given a moment to begin,” for creative entrepreneurs, and CEINNOV was developed to bolster these necessary opportunities.

The initiative is funded through the Ratcliffe Foundation grant, a $5 million grant gifted to MICA to support students and alumni in the ever evolving creative economy. This grant provides programing and operational support to grow and expand creative entrepreneurship resources for the College's academic community.

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 who are 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 at BIC.

Christopher Regan, commercial real estate developer and owner of Baltimore Innovation Center, writes: “The BIC is located at 1100 Wicomico Street in the heart of an area that was one of Baltimore’s 19th century hubs of industry and innovation. Immigrant turned entrepreneur Jacob Epstein built the eight-story structure with more than 11 acres of concrete floor space to house the 1914 expansion of his wholesale goods business. At the time, the building was the largest construction contract in Maryland, built to the highest construction and fireproofing standards of the day and even had direct in-building spurs off of the renowned B&O Railroad. Today, the building is being reimagined and modernized as a hub of its own to support burgeoning local ecosystems of entrepreneurs, start-ups, and artisans as well as some long-established garment businesses. Accordingly, the BIC is thrilled to welcome the RCCE to the community and believes it will both benefit from and enhance the diverse community of entrepreneurs.”

BIC currently houses several innovative companies including Galen Robotics, Harbor Designs, and Early Charm Ventures, a venture studio that converts science to business and specializes in turning brilliant scientific discoveries into companies focused on growth. Ken Malone, Executive Officer of Early Charm Ventures, understands the importance of entrepreneurial growth and states: “Every day MICA students are
taught how to express their passion in a way that connects with others. That skill in an entrepreneur motivates investors, inspires customers, builds trust with partners and creates a shared vision and culture within the organization.”

Angela McQuillan, creator of Chimaera and one of the 2023 MICA UP/Start finalists, is eager to continue her entrepreneurship journey using the CEINNOV Lab for a pop-up art exhibition saying, “the CEINNOV Lab is the perfect space to show some art as well as to host a reception, a lecture or a workshop. I am planning to do all of the above!” Angela McQuillan’s online art gallery centers artists whose work explores the intersections of biology, art and tech. McQuillan toured the CEINNOV Lab and is excited about the Baltimore Innovation Center’s entire building. “I love the building that it is housed in — so many startups and entrepreneurs on every floor — the creative energy is exciting,” McQuillan tells Strategic Program Manager Ayo Figueroa.

Figueroa, who was appointed to the strategic program manager position in the Ratcliffe Center for Creative Entrepreneurship in March, will be working closely with McQuillan and other co-curricular program fellows from the UP/Start and JUST/Start programs at MICA to support their venture launches at CEINNOV. With several years experience as an event manager producing and implementing events and programs of all types and sizes, Figueroa sees the vision of a true post-venture competition space designed specifically with the creative entrepreneur in mind. She is also inspired by her hometown of Baltimore City that she knows and loves as being a rich and thriving cultural hub for creatives of all kinds, including herself.

“The Creative Entrepreneurship Innovation Lab is a new initiative at MICA, graciously funded by the Ratcliffe Foundation, and I’m passionate about leading and inspiring these fellows to support building their ventures and carving out a path to full-time entrepreneurship. It will be an amazing experience for MICA students to
journey off campus and immerse themselves amongst other community change agents, artists, tech leaders, movers and shakers, and gain first hand experience in a growing entrepreneurial ecosystem,” Figueroa shares.

Mcquillan also sees the endless opportunities CEINNOV will bring to the MICA community and beyond, remarking, “the CEINNOV Lab is a great opportunity to allow creative entrepreneurs to experiment with having a presence in a brick and mortar space without committing to a rental agreement. It’s a great starting off point for entrepreneurs to be exposed to an amazing innovation community and to form new connections that will help propel them to a new level in their business development.”

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.

The Ratcliffe Center for Creative Entrepreneurship serves as a creative hub for MICA students and alumni to engage with programs that connect resources and training to grow creative ideas into viable businesses.

Founded in 1826, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is the oldest continuously degree-granting college of art and design in the nation. The College enrolls over 3,000 undergraduate, graduate and continuing studies students from 49 states and 65 countries in fine arts, design, electronic media, art education, liberal arts, and professional studies degree and non-credit programs. With art and design programs ranked in the top ten by U.S. News and World Report, MICA is pioneering interdisciplinary approaches to innovation, research, and community and social engagement. Alumni and programming reach around the globe, even as MICA remains a cultural cornerstone in the Baltimore/Washington region, hosting hundreds of exhibitions and events annually by students, faculty and other established artists.