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The Science Nerds Take Top Prize in Spring Ratcliffe Foundation Shore Hatchery Competition
Pictured, from left: Dr. Christy Weer, dean of SU’s Perdue School of Business; SU President Carolyn Ringer Lepre; Lindsey MacWha; Jennifer Corron; and Dr. Laurie Couch, SU provost and senior vice president of academic affairs.

The Science Nerds Take Top Prize in Spring Ratcliffe Foundation Shore Hatchery Competition

By SU Public Relations

SALISBURY, MD---Judges in the 22nd round of Salisbury University’s Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation Shore Hatchery entrepreneurship competition took a trip back to the classroom, awarding science experiment kit makers The Science Nerds with this semester’s top funding amount: $37,000.

Science teachers Jennifer Corron ‘04 and Lindsey MacWha ‘06, of Berlin, MD, impressed the judges with their mission of inspiring and educating while making science fun. The duo makes every kit by hand and tailors scientific experiences to all learning levels. With dozens of experiment, explore, and sensory kits to choose from the budget-friendly, customizable and easy-to-follow directions wowed the judges. 

Held at the University’s Dave and Patsy Rommel Center for Entrepreneurship at SU Downtown, the competition featured 14 applicants from throughout the Mid-Atlantic vying for their share of $100,000 in prize money. Other winners included:

•    2 Betties – Bridget Greaney and Nancy Becker: A mother and daughter team from Baltimore turned business partners when they set out to create snacks that were both nutritious and delicious with less sugar. The company creates healthy mini donuts free of gluten, dairy, grains and refined sugars - $26,000

•    Sindri Materials – Christopher DiMarco, David DiMarco, Francis DiMarco and Brian Checchio: The Wilmington, DE-based company is on a mission to set the standard in graphene. The strong, light and renewable source is an asset in nanotechnology applications and can assist scientific research - $10,000

•    Korion Health – Akshaya Anand: This Pittsburgh-based health company showcased the latest advancement to telehealth accessibility. Its electronic USB stethoscope and app with intuitive guided user interface brings cardiopulmonary exams into the comfort of patient homes - $10,000

•    Mandala Pies – Caitlin and Mikey LaComb: This family-run Berlin, MD, bakery specializes in pies using organically grown and locally sourced ingredients - $5,000

•    La Marmotta Gelateria – Francesco and Carlo Brown: Based in Washington, D.C., this authentic Italian gelato shop seeks to employ those with disabilities. In addition to traditional recipes and high-quality ingredients, the company’s mission is to create a work environment in which everyone is welcomed as a unique person, with their own strengths and weaknesses, capable of positively contributing to this business and the world - $5,000

•    Iron Skillet Coffee – Jeff Smith: With a focus on the history of Ethiopian coffee and the most organic preparation of coffee throughout the ages, this Berlin-based business roasts small batches in a cast iron skillet over a steady open flame to create a bold and original flavor - $5,000

•    MaQlar Hair Care – Priscilla Tabi-Gyansah and Lawrence Tawiah: Based in Salisbury, this organic hair and beauty company specializes in natural products that promote hair growth - $2,000

In addition to funding, winners and participants also receive mentoring support from the program’s board. Mentors include business leaders such as Chris Perdue of Perdue Farms, Inc.; Mike Cottingham of the Rommel Companies; and Patricia Royak, member of SU’s Franklin P. Perdue School of Business Executive Advisory Council. 

This round’s winners join the program’s 115 previous award recipients, who have self-reported estimated profits of some $29 million, creating 1071 jobs.

“The goal of this program is to assist where we can make the most lasting impact,” said Michael Jensen, SU executive director of entrepreneurship, “We want to play a role in expanding business growth and increasing job creation in our communities.”

The Ratcliffe Foundation Shore Hatchery program was established with an initial $1 million contribution in 2013. In 2017, the Ratcliffe Foundation announced a second $1 million gift to continue the Shore Hatchery through this spring, followed by the most recent announcement of an additional $900,000 to maintain the program through at least 2026.

Administered by the Perdue School, its goal is to fund and provide guidance to entrepreneurs with active small businesses in order to achieve greater scale and market reach. 

“This program offers an important stepping stone for startups,” said Jensen. “The award removes specific obstacles to growth and enables expansion.” 

Up to $200,000 annually is available for those applying for grants through the Shore Hatchery program. Its board of directors selects recipients based on presentations. All competitors have the opportunity to meet with SU’s team at the Rommel Center for Entrepreneurship to discuss resources available to support their businesses.

For more information call 410-546-4325 or visit the Ratcliffe Shore Hatchery webpage.

Learn more about opportunities to Make Tomorrow Yours at the SU website.