FIU’s Ratcliffe Art + Design Incubator awarded $2.5 million to develop entrepreneurial leaders in the creative sector

The Ratcliffe Art + Design Incubator

–By Millie Acebal for FIU News

FIU’s Ratcliffe Art + Design Incubator (RA+DI) has received a gift of $2.5 million from the Philip E. & Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation to develop diverse, entrepreneurial leaders in the creative sector and boost South Florida’s economy.

This gift marks the third awarded to FIU’s RA+DI by the Philip E. & Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation, which is focused on providing access to education and training for aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners to grow their ventures, create jobs, and expand economic opportunities in local communities. 

“With this gift, the Philip E. & Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation is inspiring artistic entrepreneurship at FIU and helping set RA+DI fellows on the path to success,” said Howard Lipman, chief executive officer of the FIU Foundation. “We are grateful for their partnership, which has for years helped this university advance creative innovation that will shape the South Florida community and beyond.”

Housed in the College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts (CARTA) the Ratcliffe Art + Design Incubator’s focus on art and design sets it apart from other incubators. Fellows learn about the business side of an artistic operation, including marketing, running a business, scaling and packaging. They come to understand how their practice as designers and artists translates directly to business as they design, demonstrate, pitch and sell their products, combining experiential learning, field work and professional networking.

The gift also supports micro-credentialing, co-curricular and experiential programming, and competition and entrepreneurship showcases, among other initiatives.

“Entrepreneurship education within academic art and design departments has been introduced into university curricula to prepare graduates to actively participate in the process of building creative economies in our discrete communities,” said Jacek Kolasiński, director of the RA+DI. “These initiatives have focused on a search for new strategies and prospects to empower young artists and designers to create more sustainable economic futures for themselves and foster their creative energies to re-envision our future and prepare them to solve society’s most pressing challenges.”

RA+DI trains students to become employers who will create jobs. Additionally, there is a focus on developing entrepreneurs with diverse backgrounds who design products for underrepresented communities. Fellow Latrisha Russell launched LR Beauty Co., her namesake beauty brand that offers professional makeup, skin therapy and braiding.

“I’m a thinker. I like to plan everything before taking action but participating in RA+DI has helped me to not just plan, but also how to act on my plans,” Russell said. “I feel more confident about testing my ideas and now affectionately refer to the incubator as ‘A space for doers.’”

The late Phil and Carole Ratcliffe created the foundation in 2003 with a vision to provide access to education & training for aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners to grow their ventures, create jobs, and expand economic opportunities in local communities.

“The FIU Ratcliffe Art + Design Incubator aligns closely with our foundation’s vision and we are deeply pleased to support its mission to provide students in creative fields with the tools necessary to succeed as entrepreneurs,” said Carlene Cassidy, chief executive officer of the Philip E. & Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation.
Earlier this year, the Ratcliffe Foundation provided an additional emergency grant of $10,000 for the purchase of five 3-D printers that allowed the incubator to print more than 1,000 face shields for local healthcare workers in conjunction with FIU’s Miami Beach Urban Studios and College of Engineering & Computing. It gave the RA+DI fellows a unique opportunity to learn how to produce essential personal protective equipment (PPE) and serve the community.

“This new four-year commitment from the Ratcliffe Foundation is a testament to the success of the early stages of this program and to its bright future. We are deeply grateful to the Foundation for its partnership as we continue to elevate and expand the Ratcliffe Art + Design Incubator,” said Oliver Ionita, CARTA’s senior director of development.

Located on FIU’s Biscayne Bay Campus, RA+DI was launched in 2017 with a cohort of eight fellows tasked with turning their ideas into viable products, services and businesses as part of their two-year residency. There are a total of 22 fellows currently participating in the program, which is on its fourth cohort.
For a video about the Ratcliffe Art + Design Incubator please click here.