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Ratcliffe Foundation Announces $1 Million to Continue Shore Hatchery at SU

10/27/2017 8:21:00 AM
James Wright, SU President Janet Dudley-Eshbach and Carole Ratcliffe
From left: Ratcliffe Foundation Co-trustee Jim Wright, SU President Janet Dudley-Eshbach and Carole Ratcliffe.

SALISBURY, MD---A Salisbury University program to help create jobs throughout the mid-Atlantic will continue another five years, thanks to a new $1 million gift from the Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation.

The Ratcliffe Shore Hatchery entrepreneurship competition in SU’s Franklin P. Perdue School of Business, established with the foundation’s initial $1 million contribution in 2013, will continue through at least 2024 under the new agreement.

“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 the Perdue School. “With the foundation’s support, we have been able to expand funding and mentoring opportunities, long provided for students, to entrepreneurs throughout the region.”

“Because of the Ratcliffe Foundation’s generosity, SU’s reputation as a regional hub for entrepreneurs has ascended,” added William Burke, SU executive director for economic development. “Success begets success. With the help of the Ratcliffe Shore Hatchery, SU has quadrupled sponsorships and awards for its student business competitions, twice attracted national auditions for ABC-TV’s Shark Tank and announced a privately funded entrepreneurship center expected to open in downtown Salisbury in 2020.”

Through the Ratcliffe Shore Hatchery, SU distributes $200,000 annually to business startups with a goal of having them open within six months and potentially employing three or more within a year.

[Related Links]Selected applicants vie for that funding via “Gull Cage” elevator pitch sessions to the program’s board of directors, similar to Shark Tank. Winners receive not only money, but mentoring from board members who head some of the region’s most successful businesses, including Perdue Farms, Rommel Holdings, South Moon Under, Pohanka Automotive Group, Sherwood of Salisbury and more.

Those not selected for funding also receive the benefit of mentorship, along with exposure to those board members and others via a semi-annual public exhibition taking place in connection with the competitions.

Since 2013, SU has awarded $800,000 to nearly 40 business startups in Maryland and Delaware through the program. From high school and college students to seasoned business veterans, the winners have been as diverse as their products — which have included everything from ice cream and European stroopwafel cookies, to a social cooking platform and online boat slip rentals, to kitchen tools and high-tech exoskeleton suits.

In addition to the Shore Hatchery, the Ratcliffe Foundation recently funded a $20,000 scholarship for Anne Arundel Community College students transferring to SU who demonstrate academic achievement and a commitment to entrepreneurship.

“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.”    

For more information call 410-546-4325 or visit the Ratcliffe Shore Hatchery website at

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Ratcliffe Shore Hatchery Winners Announced

Ratcliffe Shore Hatchery Winners Announced

Dr. Memo Diriker, director of SU’s Business, Economic and Community Outreach
Network (BEACON), left, and Ratcliffe Shore Hatchery board member Mike
Cottingham, president and CEO of Rommel Holdings, right, congratulate Charles
White and Mike Boylan of PaverGuide on receiving $35,000 in funding from this
spring’s competition.

SALISBURY, MD---Members of Salisbury University’s Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation Shore Hatchery board of directors spread the wealth — literally — during the fourth round of the semiannual competition.

Eight Maryland-based startup businesses, representing more than half of this semester’s 15 competitors, received funding from the initiative, established with a $1 million gift from the Ratcliffe Foundation in 2013 to assist entrepreneurs and help them create new jobs. Winners included:

•    PaverGuide - $35,000. Producing a lightweight, low-cost pervious paving system, this company hopes to help contractors save on construction labor and materials while providing a high-quality, low-maintenance alternative to traditional brick and stone pavers. Production is planned to take place in Hurlock, MD.

•    NUVU- $25,000. Creators of this app hope it will serve as a nightlife guide and social interaction tool for young adults while providing real-time analytics and advertising opportunities for bars and clubs.

•    Kitchology - $25,000. This app will provide substitution suggestions in recipes for diners seeking to lose weight or managing dietary restrictions.

•    Oasis Marinas - $20,000. Winning $30,000 in last fall’s Ratcliffe Shore Hatchery competition, this upscale marina management company returned this semester with a new idea: a “Snag a Slip” website that will allow boaters to reserve marina slips in advance online.

•    Gold Leaf Academy - $5,000. This accredited child care program and private school would serve children ages 6 weeks to 4 years.

•    Kanga Trash and Energy Systems - $5,000. Conceptualized by University of Maryland student Cody Branchaw, this company plans to produce under-seat garbage cans for stadiums and arenas, reducing the number of hours required to clean the facilities after events and decreasing the amount of electricity needed to keep the venues illuminated during cleaning periods.

•    Operation Precision Systems, LLC - $5,000. This company is developing a cloud-based drinking water quality monitoring and management service, with an eye toward expanding into air quality, ground quality and waste management monitoring.

•    IPPS Mentoring Program - $5,000. The first non-profit organization funded by the Ratcliffe Shore Hatchery, this Salisbury-based program provides mentoring services at the Wicomico County Detention Center in hopes of keeping inmates from returning once they have served their sentence. With the funding, IPPS board members plan to expand the initiative to the Poplar Hill Pre-Release Unit this summer.

In total, the Ratcliffe Shore Hatchery distributed some $125,000 this semester for a total of $200,000 this academic year. The fifth round of the competition is scheduled next fall, with some $200,000 in seed funding available.“The judges continue to be impressed with what they’re seeing each semester,” said William Burke, SU director of entrepreneurship competitions. “They had an especially tough time this round, and the number of prizes awarded reflects that.”

Administered through SU’s Franklin P. Perdue School of Business, the goal of the Ratcliffe Shore Hatchery program is to fund entrepreneurs in the mid-Atlantic and have new businesses opening within six months, with the potential of employing five or more within a year.

In addition to funding, winners and participants also receive mentoring support from the program’s board. Members include business leaders such as Jim Perdue of Perdue Farms, Dave Rommel and Mike Cottingham of Rommel Holdings, Frank Gunion of South Moon Under, Laura Baker of Draper Holdings, Jennifer Layton of Layton’s Chance Vineyards and Winery, Bruce Rogers of Sherwood of Salisbury, Katherine Kiernan of APPI Energy and Sandy Fitzgerald-Angello of Pohanka Automotive Group, among others.

This semester’s Ratcliffe Shore Hatchery competition was part of SU’s inaugural Entrepreneurship Week, which also featured the University’s annual student Entrepreneurship Competitions and, in connection with 47 ABC, a casting call for the ABC-TV hit series Shark Tank.

The next Ratcliffe Shore Hatchery submission period is August 17-September 21. For application materials and more information visit

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