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Hundreds Celebrate FastForward 1812’s Promise to Support Innovation

Hundreds Celebrate FastForward 1812’s Promise to Support Innovation

On April 26, hundreds of people came to East Baltimore for the grand opening of FastForward 1812. The event, billed as a celebration of a new physical space to support innovation, was just as much a celebration of the innovation hub’s promise to impact the future of Johns Hopkins, the city of Baltimore and people around the world by helping bring life-changing technologies to market.

“[This space is] a physical manifestation of our commitment to bringing together the necessary ingredients of innovation,” Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels said during the celebration’s opening remarks.

President Ronald J. Daniels

Daniels added that FastForward, a coordinated suite of resources designed to efficiently move technologies from startup to marketplace, acts as “a launching pad for entrepreneurs from not only Hopkins but also, in fact, from across Baltimore.”

In addition to 8,000 square feet of office, co-working and meeting space, FastForward 1812 features 15,000 square feet of dedicated and shared wet lab space, a much-needed startup resource in Baltimore. But the specs of the innovation hub don’t tell a complete story.

“We’re providing more than physical space,” said the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine’s Executive Vice President Dr. Landon King at the grand opening. “We’re providing a network of mentors and other resources to move ideas forward.”

Dr. Landon King

The myriad resources FastForward 1812 provides—including its affordable space, mentorship from experienced entrepreneurs and business leaders, legal and accounting support, funding opportunities and access to Johns Hopkins’ core facilities—are designed to help startups reach their potential, set roots in Baltimore and, eventually, help establish the city as a leading space for innovation.

For too long, Baltimore lacked the resources startups needed to develop into successful businesses. This lack of support forced them to move their promising businesses to more fertile innovation ecosystems. Now Baltimore has a number of accelerators located around the city, including three FastForward innovation hubs.

Like the leaders at Johns Hopkins, Pugh foresees a future where the startups supported within FastForward will move into their own offices and become a part of Baltimore’s economy.

(Left to right) Dr. Jennifer Elisseeff, Dr. Landon King, Pres. Ronald J. Daniels, Mayor Catherine Pugh and Christy Wyskiel

“These kinds of tech and biotech companies will create new jobs and help bring manufacturing back to Baltimore,” Pugh said. “They will start here, grow here and be part of the city’s economy.”

“When you think about the innovation and the technology and the biotech companies that can grow right here … it doesn’t get much better than that,” she said before officially opening the innovation hub by lighting a sign with the words “Start Here.”

Want to learn more about FastForward 1812? Click here!

 

News

10 Social Ventures Present Visions for a Better World,…

10 Social Ventures Present Visions for a Better World, The PAC Wins $25,000

Ten social ventures. One $25,000 award. Thousands of people benefiting from emerging social ventures.

Those numbers only begin to summarize Tuesday evening’s Impact+Innovation Forum, the Social Innovation Lab’s (SIL) culminating event for its 2016-2017 cohort of nonprofit and mission-driven businesses.

“The ventures in this cohort started out strong, having made it through a competitive selection process with 53 applicants,” says SIL Director Darius Graham. “Throughout the six-month program, these teams worked hard, learned a great deal and, in some cases, pivoted their approach.

“The forum was our way of publicly sharing their vision for a better Baltimore and world with our larger community of supporters.”

Though each of the SIL ventures has made strides in providing a measurable impact to communities in Baltimore and beyond, The Portable Alternative Crib (PAC) received a $25,000 award to accelerate its mission of lowering the occurrence of sudden infant death syndrome across Maryland. The organization’s founder, Shantell Roberts, provides families with young children information and resources, including a certified sleeping space, that keep babies safe.

“Parenthood is one of those weird spaces for which you could never truly be prepared,” Roberts said during her presentation, noting that new parents often receive well-intentioned advice. “But what if the information they gave you was unsafe? Or it didn’t work? Or led you to create an unsafe environment for your baby?”

In 2011, Roberts’ 1-year-old daughter was one of the more than 100 infant deaths that occur in Baltimore each year. Because of this tragedy, Roberts endeavored to ensure no other family had to endure the loss of a child.

Roberts, a safe sleep coordinator for Baltimore who joined SIL as a community member with no affiliation to Johns Hopkins, says the city has had six unsafe sleeping deaths of babies in the first quarter of 2017 alone. The PAC’s solution—a rectangular box only a couple of feet long—provides a certified, comfortable and safe sleeping space for babies.

For the immediate future, Roberts has set The PAC on a 100 box initiative. By selling 100 of the $150 boxes, which include maternal self-care and infant care items, she will have funding to send 100 additional boxes to organizations in Baltimore City and Baltimore County.

The $25,000 award she received from the Social Innovation Lab will go a long way in helping her achieve that goal.The PAC received the reward based on peer evaluations within SIL’s 2016-2017 cohort. Four times from January through April, each venture rated their peers on a four-point scale across seven categories:

Compelling spokesperson – A palpable passion, enthusiasm or commitment to their venture
Vision for impact – A reasonably ambitious vision for making an impact in a substantial way
Vision for venture – A reasonably ambitious vision for their venture’s future size, scale, impact and profile
Resilience – Acknowledgement of challenges and dedication to overcome them
Empathy – An extensive understanding of and empathy for the beneficiary of the venture
Progress – Demonstrated growth or development of the venture during the program
Generosity – Offering time, contacts or ideas to help others in the cohort

“We were inspired to create this peer review process for the award based on the work that Village Capital has done via their Peer Selected Investment Model,” Graham says. “Having such a process where the cohort provides ongoing feedback to each other and where that feedback determines the winner of the award helps us identify the team that best exemplifies what we look for in entrepreneurs.”

Though PAC received top honors at the event, the nine other nonprofits and mission-driven businesses have benefited communities in Baltimore and around the world.

Click here to watch the SIL ventures present at the Impact+Innovation Forum.

B-360

Using dirt bike culture as a platform to repair and build relationships in the community, provide a pathway to career opportunities and unite the community.

Presenter: Brittany Young, founder

Inspiration: Became an engineer despite being told she couldn’t because of her race, the community in which she grew up and the fact her parents lacked degrees
Key fact: Children as young as 5 either ride dirt bikes or want to be dirt bike riders
Quote: “Riders, regardless of where they come from, deserve a safe place.”

Beacon Tech

A mobile app for anonymous, text-based, group therapy that uses artificial intelligence.

Presenter: Ravi Shah, co-founder

Inspiration: Saw friend suffering from mental health illness, but she feared judgment in treatment
Key fact: One in five people in the United States suffer from a mental health illness
Quote: “That community and support [my friend who suffered mental illness received] was limited to just 90 minutes a week, but her depression wasn’t scheduled.” — Ravi Shah, co-founder, Beacon Tech

Bent Carrot

Empowering families to eat well by connecting them with essential kitchen tools and fostering a community brought together by a passion for improving its food environment.

Presenter: Mark Corser, founder, Bent Carrot

Inspiration: Lived in a Baltimore food desert with the nearest grocery store 20 blocks away
Key fact: 30 percent of children in Baltimore live in a food desert
Quote: “The Kitchen Kit allows families to prepare fresh, healthy foods in their own homes, on their own terms.”

Intelehealth

A mobile app that improves access to comprehensive primary health care for remote and underserved communities through telemedicine.

Presenter: Neha Goel, CEO, Intelehealth

Inspiration: From India, Goel noticed existing telemedicine solutions inadequate for rural populations as they require high bandwidth or are specific to a single illness
Key fact: 400 million people around the world lack access to basic health care services
Quote: “They have to travel long distances and spend an inordinate amount of money to get the care that you and I take for granted.”

Lacstation

Providing supplies and support to breastfeeding moms at work.

Presenter: Meg Stoltzfus, founder, Lacstation

Inspiration: Manager of breastfeeding support program had to race to provide nursing mothers missing equipment
Key fact: Four in five mothers breastfeed when a baby is born, but that rate drops to two in five after three months
Quote: “Breastfeeding is one of the most valuable preventative health measures a mom can take.”

The Listening Lab

A music education program that teaches students concentration, awareness and listening skills through a series of classroom sessions and live orchestra concerts

Presenter: Rebecca Smithorn, founder, The Listening Lab

Inspiration: Education conductor of the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra
Key fact: Intentional listening allows people to lose themselves in music as they would a great movie or book
Quote: “A lot of our students face hurdles daily that infringe on their ability to sustain awareness.”

Project Charmify

Bringing small-scale investment to Baltimore communities in the form of vacant lot revitalization and community-driven programming

Presenter: Elyse Oliver, president & co-founder

Inspiration: Grew up in Biddeford, Maine, a town that hadn’t seen investment since the heyday of its textile mills in the 1960s
Key fact: Sixty-five percent of Baltimore’s 7,500 city-owned vacant spaces have no plans for future revitalization
Quote: “I was involved in the revitalization efforts of Biddeford’s downtown during my senior year of high school. That involvement dramatically changed my perception of the city.”

Squadz

Connecting community members to play pickup sports, while generating revenue for community centers and recreation facilities.

Presenter: Nikhil Panu, founder

Inspiration: The captain of the Johns Hopkins basketball team, Panu has long had an interest in sports but struggled to find people to play with and places to do it
Key fact: In its initial launch in Baltimore, Squadz had 130 bookings of space at recreation centers over a period of weeks
Quote: “We see people from various neighborhoods coming together, and this is all through sports.”

The Whole Teacher

Increasing the health, happiness and retention of educators by streaming wellness programming into schools.

Presenter: Jenna Shaw, founder and CEO

Inspiration: Began teaching in Baltimore public schools nine years ago, and each year she saw fewer and fewer of her colleagues returning to the classroom
Key fact: At 35 percent, Baltimore’s turnover rates for teachers are twice the national average
Quote: “Schools don’t have the resources or knowledge they need to truly support our educators

Interested in learning more about SIL? Click here!

 

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