Ratcliffe Foundation invests in Arts + Design Incubator at FIU

FIU’s College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts (CARTA) has partnered with The Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation Inc., to create an incubator aimed at giving FIU art and design students the tools and support needed to turn their ideas into profitable businesses.

With funds from a recent $831,000 gift from the Ratcliffe Foundation, CARTA will open the Ratcliffe Arts + Design Incubator at FIU at the university’s Biscayne Bay Campus in North Miami. It will be among the most innovative arts entrepreneurship spaces to be housed at a public university in South Florida.

As conceived by CARTA’s Department of Art + Art History, the incubator will bring in two designers who will be led by department chair Jacek J. Kolasinski, a new-media artist and associate professor of visual arts. The designers will operate their own on-site studios, with students — Ratcliffe Fellows — shadowing them. The designers will mentor the fellows, co-design products for university and external clients, and oversee the fellows’ development of startup businesses or patents. The first cohort of 15 fellows will start working in the incubator in Fall 2017. Each fellow will receive a full scholarship covering tuition for their year in the incubator.

For art and design students, experiencing the process of getting a product out the door in a supported environment is critical preparation for producing in creative fields after graduation, said CARTA Dean Brian Schriner.

“CARTA recognizes that technological advances have profoundly altered creative practices,” Schriner said. “The Ratcliffe Arts + Design Incubator at FIU will prepare students with the technical and creative skills needed to be competitive in the 21st century’s global, creative economy.”

The Ratcliffe Foundation has funded educational programs for entrepreneurs at colleges in the past, but to Carole Ratcliffe, the incubator is a great fit at CARTA and a great addition to the entrepreneurial ecosystem that already exists at FIU.

“This project has the right momentum at the right time and is so unique in that it makes the most of the assets and resources that FIU has,” Ratcliffe said.

The Ratcliffe gift will fund the incubator for a three-year period, including $450,000 in scholarships, two designers who will teach courses in graphic and object design, a monthly lecture series, state-of-the-art technology, office space, accessible meeting space, a small business library, market research assistance, legal and accounting support, seed capital programs, and training.

via FIU News

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