This spring, the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) continued to evolve its mission to help entrepreneurs and makers build and grow career paths in Baltimore and beyond via its UP/Start Venture Competition and a new partnership with the Baltimore Arts Realty Corporation (BARCO).
The UP/Start Venture Competition, now in its second year, is a pitch contest open to teams of MICA students and recent alumni. Teams vie for a total of $100,000 in seed funding. The competition provides capital and mentorship with industry partners to help nurture ideas into sustainable businesses.
Made possible through funding from the Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation, the 2017 competition attracted 30 applicants. The April 13 finale brought together UP/Start’s eight finalists, who made their final pitches to a panel of judges and a live audience.
The panel of judges, comprised of Maryland business leaders, selected five winners. Winners included Danae Inc., which manufactures customizable, 3D printed prosthetic covers; Dandelion Wine Collective, an illustration and comicsmicro-publishing company; a start-up that builds custom guitars; a publisher of bilingual children’s literature; and a manufacturer of bait and tackle for bass fishing using recyclable materials.
MICA is working with BARCO on other initiatives to foster entrepreneurship. Recently, MICA announced a strategic alliance with BARCO to establish an annual six-month entrepreneur-in-residence program at Open Works, a makerspace facility in Baltimore’s Station North neighborhood.
“This partnership will help to facilitate accessible career paths for students, and keep talented makers in Baltimore, contributing to the city’s creative and entrepreneurial economy,” said MICA President Samuel Hoi.
MICA has a commitment to build increased opportunity in Baltimore, and the entrepreneur-in-residence program is just one of its efforts designed to retain, grow, and support Baltimore’s creative entrepreneurs. The program also provides the resources and support needed to further entrepreneurs' educational, professional, and business goals.
Available to five MICA students and recent graduates, the residency includes dedicated studio space and access to Open Works’ fabrication facilities, including a metal shop, wood shop, 3D printing studio, and electronics lab. The inaugural cohort that began their residencies on June 1, includes a clothing and apparel company that makes their wares exclusively from recycled plastic bags, a developer of customized game tables, and a contractor that supports the tiny house movement, making hanging outdoor shelters.