IMET and MICA students pitch their business ideas
For the second year, students at the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology (IMET) and Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) gathered to pitch business ideas to one another as part of a “Pitch and Mix” event.
While IMET students bring a scientific perspective, and MICA students look through a lens of art and design, both have spent the last few months learning about entrepreneurship, supported in this journey by the Ratcliffe Foundation.
MICA’s UP/Start Venture Competition, now in its sixth year, is an initiative of MICApreneurship and the newly created Ratcliffe Center for Creative Entrepreneurship, and focuses on incubating and building creative business ventures within the MICA community. IMET’s Ratcliffe Environmental Entrepreneur Fellowship (REEF) program, in its seventh year, leads students through developing a business plan, market assessment, registering patents, and securing funding to support innovation development and commercialization.
On March 19, IMET’s scientists and MICA’s creatives pitched business ideas to each other and received feedback from those with different perspectives and professional backgrounds.
This year’s eight UP/Start finalists range from an independent publishing company dedicated to storytelling that centers Black and Brown experiences to a paper costume and play company to a company that brings new ideas to the funerary industry and more. Read about all eight of this year’s ventures here.
"The work our UP/Start finalists have done in these last 6 weeks is nothing short of amazing. Despite the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, our entrepreneurs have continued to pull from their creative strengths to grow their concepts preparing for our April finale," Jennine Stankiewicz, Co-Director of the Ratcliffe Center for Creative Entrepreneurship, said. "For the second year in a row, our students also were able to grow their entrepreneurial skills and practice pitching with their counterparts at IMET. This relationship, made possible by the Ratcliffe Foundation, is truly invaluable for both the MICA and IMET teams."
This year’s IMET ventures included a software add-on for more natural teleconferencing, rapid diagnostics for disease in aquaculture, and the application of phage technology to improve beer production.
Students from both programs presented ideas for a new generation of cosmetics, with two IMET students focusing on more eco-friendly formulas like reef-safe sunscreen and plastic-free glitter and a MICA student proposing a product line that appeals to people of all gender identities.
Dr. Nina Lamba, IMET’s Assistant Director and leader of the REEF program, remarked, “We are excited that this event is turning into an annual tradition. Students gain so much from practicing their pitch in a friendly environment with peers who are also early in their entrepreneurship journeys. That students with very diverse backgrounds can successfully pitch a variety of business ideas to each other, speaks to the caliber of the students and the work they have put in.”
IMET and MICA students will now prepare for their final pitch competitions in April. IMET students will present to a group of venture capitalists, scientists and a representative from the Ratcliffe Foundation. Some of these students will go on to be fellows with the REEF program, receiving funding to support their studies and business development in the next academic year.
MICA students will continue refining their business models and working closely with dedicated mentors. Finalists will compete for a portion of $100,000 in seed funding during the April 14 Finale.
This progress was made possible by the Ratcliffe Foundation, which has a mission of providing education to help aspiring entrepreneurs achieve their goals and to grow local economies.
Carlene Cassidy, CEO of the Ratcliffe Foundation who attended the pitch event, said to the students, “You all hit it out of the park with your presentations. Overall, you did a wonderful job with your financials and understanding your market. Give yourself a pat on the back and thank your coaches.” It was clear from all the positive feedback, that all of the students are well-positioned for their final pitch next month.