Category: News


5 Startups on Fast Track Courtesy of Baltimore’s Big…

5 Startups on Fast Track to Grow Their Businesses Courtesy of Baltimore’s Big Names in Fitness and Health Care


M-1 Ventures’ accelerator program providing emerging businesses funding and mentorship from experts at Johns Hopkins, Plank Industries and the University of Maryland

M-1 VenturesToday, M-1 Ventures announced the five startups selected to participate in an intense 16-week program in Baltimore designed to set emerging businesses in the connected health and fitness industry on a fast track to success. This accelerator program operates with the support of Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures, Plank Industries, the University of Maryland (through UM Ventures), Brown Advisory and the Abell Foundation.

Each member of M-1 Ventures’ cohort has an innovative technology that ultimately empowers people to get healthy, stay healthy and achieve wellness goals or one that improves patient and financial outcomes and the efficiency of health care providers.

“The startups in M-1 Ventures’ first-ever cohort each have an ambitious and innovative solution to a health and wellness issue, the talent and passion to accelerate their development, and the capability to leverage the resources that our accelerator provides,” says Tony D’Agostino, a co-director of M-1 Ventures along with Paul Singh. “We believe support from M-1 Ventures will help startups build on the traction they have already established and reach their potential.”

M-1 Ventures—which is receiving additional support from the Maryland Department of Commerce and Village Capital Communities—kicked off on September 5 and features the following startups:

  • BurnAlong – Online video fitness and wellness platform that enables people to work out with top instructors across the country and their friends
  • b.Well – Online platform that puts consumers at the center of their health care by simplifying access to health data, insurance and on-demand health services
  • EduMD – MileMarker™ is an on-the-job, real-time assessment software for surgical training
  • MotionVibe – App designed to maximize fitness outcomes by connecting users with a community of fitness consumers and professionals
  • RoundTrip – Online platform that connects hospitals and patients with on-demand, non-emergency medical transportation

“We are excited to join such a prestigious group of experienced entrepreneurs, investors and health care organizations,” says Angela Damiano, the corporate administrator of RoundTrip, a startup based in Philadelphia. “The Baltimore area has incredible voices in health innovation, and we at RoundTrip can’t wait to be a part of it. With M-1 Ventures’ help, we know RoundTrip can improve access to transportation for patients and care coordinators in Baltimore and beyond.”

By focusing solely on the connected health and fitness space, M-1 Ventures provides an opportunity to leverage Maryland’s anchor organizations—including prestigious research institutions and one of the world’s most successful athletic performance companies—as well as its proximity to government institutions like the National Institutes of Health, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Food and Drug Administration.

The accelerator provides one-on-one mentorship from experts at Johns Hopkins, Plank Industries and the University of Maryland. The mentors have been hand-selected to ensure each startup receives industry insights and guidance particular to their business.

“We’re honored to be selected to participate in M-1 Ventures, and are excited for the opportunity to learn from Paul Singh, Tony D’Agostino and other Baltimore ecosystem experts,” says Daniel Freedman, the co-founder and co-CEO of BurnAlong. “As we prepare to scale BurnAlong nationally, M-1 Ventures will prove invaluable as it provides guidance from those who have done it before and those who can help us navigate exciting, new opportunities and markets.”

In addition to mentorship, M-1 startups receive $25,000 in investment funding and the opportunity to earn one of two additional investments based on ratings from their peers in the program. This peer-review model for awarding startup investments was introduced by venture capital firm Village Capital.

Toward the end of the program in December, M-1 Ventures will hold a Demo Day where each startup will pitch top investors in the connected health and fitness sector and from the Mid-Atlantic region as well as engage potential collaborators and customers.

“Maryland’s vast pool of talented, creative and visionary entrepreneurs are part of what makes us one of the most innovative states in the country,” said Maryland Commerce Secretary Mike Gill. “Our department is proud to support this program, which we believe will propel these emerging businesses to the top of the health and fitness industry so they can help people lead healthier lives.”

Click here for more information about M-1.


About Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures

Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures (JHTV) is The Johns Hopkins University’s intellectual property administration center, serving Johns Hopkins researchers and inventors as a licensing, patent and technology commercialization office and acting as an active liaison to parties interested in leveraging university research or materials for academic or corporate endeavors. JHTV helps develop new discoveries and inventions into products and services that benefit society and transform the world. In 2016, JHTV secured more than $58 million in licensing revenue, possessed more than 2,454 active issued patents and created 22 new startup companies. For more information about Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures, opportunities to collaborate, start a technology venture or license a technology, visit its website.

About Plank Industries

Plank Industries is a privately-held company with diversified holdings in commercial real estate, hospitality, food and beverage, venture capital and thoroughbred horseracing, all under the Sagamore group of brands. The company is based in Baltimore, MD, USA. Under the leadership of Tom Geddes, ClEO, Plank Industries serves as the family office and investment arm of Kevin A. Plank, founder, Chairman and CEO of Under Armour, Inc.

About UM Ventures

UM Ventures is a joint initiative of the MPowering the State Program, bringing the University of Maryland, Baltimore and University of Maryland, College Park together to commercialize discoveries, and create economic impact by engaging partners in industry and social ventures. By encouraging students and faculty, providing expert advice and business services, more discoveries will reach the market. By engaging directly with external partners, UM Ventures brings new investment, expanded markets and more startup ventures.

About Brown Advisory

Brown Advisory is an independent investment firm committed to providing its clients with a combination of first-class investment performance, strategic advice, and the highest level of service. Founded in 1993 as an affiliate of Alex, Brown & Sons, a leading U.S. investment bank, Brown Advisory became independent in 1998. Today the firm serves private clients and institutions in 34 countries from eight offices globally. The firm’s colleague equity ownership, experienced investment professionals, collaborative investment process, and client-first culture help to make a material difference in the lives of its clients.

About Abell Foundation

The Abell Foundation is a private foundation dedicated to the enhancement of the quality of life in Maryland, with a particular focus on Baltimore City. The Foundation places a strong emphasis on opening the doors of opportunity to the disenfranchised, believing that no community can thrive if those who live on the margins of it are not included. Consistent with its mission, the Foundation has allocated a portion of its investment portfolio to early-stage companies that offer significant social and economic benefits to the people of Baltimore City.



3 Hopkins Faculty Members Awarded $270,000 in Thalheimer Funding

3 Hopkins Faculty Members Awarded $270,000 in Thalheimer Funding


Louis B. Thalheimer

In July, three Johns Hopkins faculty members received awards totaling more than a quarter million dollars from the Louis B. Thalheimer Fund for Translational Research.

The $270,000 in seed funding distributed by Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures (JHTV) will support the recipients as they produce the proof-of-concept, prototype and commercial feasibility studies that will enable them to move their discoveries and innovations out of the laboratory and into the marketplace.

In addition to funding, each of the Thalheimer Award recipients receives a mentor. These mentors help the innovators determine available opportunities in the marketplace and develop industry and investor connections. Each mentor is part of FastForward’s network of mentors-in-residence.

Dr. David Efron

Dr. David Efron received $100,000 in Thalheimer funding to facilitate the development of Depictation, an interactive surgical depiction for the electronic medical record.

Due to the digitization of medical records, surgeons have lost the opportunity to sketch and store anatomical changes from complex surgeries. Depictation has the potential to enable surgeons to add the visual nuances that stem from surgery into these records with its drag-and-drop, 3-D visualization tool. Dr. Efron’s technology is a collaboration that spans the Johns Hopkins’ Department of Surgery, Carey Business School and Art as Applied to Medicine program.

Dr. Justin Sacks

Dr. Justin Sacks received $100,000 in Thalheimer funding to support the development of the Mercury Patch, a technology based on a collaboration with Center for Bioengineering Innovation and Design students that could solve the common patient issue of pressure ulcers, also known as bedsores.

Because bedridden patients develop pressure ulcers in as little as two hours, caretakers continuously reposition patients and apply breathable foam and gauze bandages to vulnerable areas. The Mercury Patch would add pressure sensors and Bluetooth technology to these bandages, enabling them to wirelessly transmit pressure information to nursing stations, smartphones and other devices. This data would provide insights into when to move patients and whether the repositioning relieves pressure.

Dr. Ralph Etienne-Cummings

The funding received by Dr. Ralph Etienne-Cummings marks the first time a Thalheimer award has been provided for a pure engineering project. Dr. Etienne-Cummings received $70,000 for the development of a pixel-wise reconfigurable exposure image sensor for automotive advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and consumer cameras.

Dr. Etienne-Cummings’ technology aims to improve upon existing camera sensors by providing a more accurate depiction of a device’s surroundings. This innovation could improve the performance of driverless cars, military drones and cell phone cameras.

Increasing interest

Now in its third year, the Louis B. Thalheimer Fund for Translational Research has seen a significant uptick in interest from Johns Hopkins faculty members. During fiscal year 2016, JHTV received six applications. That number increased to eight the following year and reached 20 this year.

A $5.4 million gift from Louis Thalheimer, a school of medicine trustee, created the fund that bears his name. Each year, researchers receiving a Thalheimer award will receive funding from $25,000 to $100,000. The funds are distributed as the researchers reach milestones over a period of nine to 12 months.

“Thalheimer funding provides Johns Hopkins faculty with a critical resource that enables them to more quickly commercialize innovation and bring its benefits to the world,” says Nina Urban, associate director of FastForward. “We are extremely grateful for Mr. Thalheimer’s gift and are thrilled that more and more of our faculty are looking to take advantage of the opportunity he has provided.”

Since its inception, the fund has supported Johns Hopkins faculty members with $670,000, including the $270,000 awarded this year. The first Thalheimer awards were distributed in January 2016 to Hai-Quan Mao, Ahmet Hoke and Francoise Marvel. The second Thalheimer cohort of John Laterra and Krishnaj Gourab received funding in July 2016.

2016 awards

Ahmet Hoke, professor of neurology and neuroscience, received $59,991 to study potential drugs—some novel—that could prevent chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN), a disease affecting almost 8 percent of the U.S. population and a common side effect of many chemotherapeutic drugs.

Francoise Marvel, an internal medicine resident at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, received $44,000 to develop the Johns Hopkins HEALTH-E App to accompany patient prescriptions.

Hai-Quan Mao, Whiting School Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, received $100,000 for the development of a soft tissue alternative to benefit cancer and trauma patients and others cosmetically.

2017 awards

Dr. Krishnaj Gourab, an assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation, received $95,549 for ReHAP, a software that aims to triage patients for therapy.

Dr. John Laterra—a professor of neurology, oncology and neuroscience and a co-director of the Brain Cancer Program at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center—received $100,000 for the development of a therapeutic for the treatment of primary and metastatic cancer.

Eligibility for Thalheimer funding is restricted to Johns Hopkins faculty members who have formally disclosed a technology to JHTV and have been assigned a case number. Additionally, the applicant’s invention must not be subject to any pre-existing exclusive licenses, non-exclusive licenses or options.

Application information and scoring criteria is available here. Email applications to Hannah Jannarone ( The next application period will open in March 2018, and a request for application (RFA) will be distributed in early January 2018.

Click here to see the 2018 Thalheimer Fund request for applications. Deadline is March 15, 2018!


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