Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is planning to launch a new entrepreneurship center, funded by a $5 million gift from the Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation, the college announced on Monday.
The Ratcliffe Center for Creative Entrepreneurship will further the college’s efforts to galvanize new businesses alongside art and design education, both within the institution and Baltimore, said MICA President Samuel Hoi.
The center builds on an existing partnership between MICA and the foundation: Since 2015, the foundation has supported the annual Up/Start Venture Competition with grant funding of $1.2 million over two gifts. Concluding with a pitch night that has become a highlight among annual local events, the competition provides student and recent alumni ventures with mentorship and funding to develop businesses.
“We came together to imagine that the center would be the next step forward,” Hoi said in an interview.
It marks the third-largest gift in MICA’s history.
“In our mind, we are taking entrepreneurial training and support to scale,” Hoi said.
Activities and programs will begin in spring 2020. By fall 2021, it will be operating in a renovated space at 81 Mosher St., a building that was acquired by MICA in 2016. The center will be co-located with MICA’s career development center and college initiatives that will serve as partners.
But it goes beyond physical space. The goal is to bring together MICA’s entrepreneurial efforts under one banner, and create a bridge across students, alumni and city residents, Hoi said.
MICA’s focus on creative entrepreneurship stems from a belief that entrepreneurship is naturally intertwined with the work of artists and designers as they build businesses around their respective expertise. Along with building a sustainable business model, the efforts are also centered on creating ventures that have a social impact.
Where the efforts that initially launched were mostly outside the classroom, a key focus will be on infusing entrepreneurial training into the curriculum of the college, Hoi said. Along with the center itself, the gift is funding a concentration in creative entrepreneurship, incorporating hands-on learning, networking, budgeting and project management into the art and design education.
In addition to collegewide, MICA is looking citywide. A focus on the efforts is to support initiatives that help new businesses started by creatives across the city. Part of the new funding will support the Baltimore Creatives Acceleration Network (BCAN), which is focused on helping local creatives and designers in the city’s wider community.
“The Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation is honored to commit $5 million to establish a comprehensive center for creative entrepreneurship at MICA,” said James D. Wright, co-trustee of the Ratcliffe Foundation, in a statement. “The College is embracing the spirit of entrepreneurship and how it can inspire students, foster innovation and build the creative economy. President Hoi is committed to building a nationally-recognized model for entrepreneurship in the field of art and design which will help artists thrive during their career at MICA and beyond.”
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