Salisbury University’s Ratcliffe Shore Hatchery entrepreneurship competition will continue through 2024 after the school received a $1 million contribution to keep the program for another five years.
The Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation provided the $1 million gift. The foundation also provided the initial gift to start the Shore Hatchery competition.
That competition has become a prominent entrepreneurship program on the Eastern Shore. The program has twice attracted national auditions for the ABC show Shark Tank.
“The Ratcliffe Foundation was attracted to SU because of our long history of success with our student entrepreneurship programs, which date to our first Richard A. Bernstein Achievement Award for Excellence in 1987,” said Dr. Christy Weer, dean of Salisbury University’s Perdue School of Business. “With the foundation’s support, we have been able to expand funding and mentoring opportunities, long provided for students, to entrepreneurs throughout the region.”
The Shore Hatchery competition distributes $200,000 every year to business startups. Companies compete for the funds in a Shark Tank-style competition, called “Gull Cage” sessions, in front of the program’s board of directors.
Since the program began, $800,000 has been awarded to nearly 40 businesses in Maryland and Delaware.
“We are incredibly excited to continue our support to the Shore Hatchery,” said Brian Ellis, director of the Ratcliffe Foundation. “Over the last five years we have seen many of the participants pitch and then watch their companies grow, with great achievement. Our support to the Shore Hatchery is amplified greatly through the exceptional program facilitated by Salisbury University and their hard work. We look forward to what the next five years has to offer and the creative innovations we will see.”
Salisbury University will also be opening an entrepreneurship center in downtown Salisbury in 2020.