Students networking at FastForward U's innovation hub.

The FastForward U Innovation & Entrepreneurship Challenge brings together a variety of award opportunities into a single event, offering students a streamlined process to access funding to work on their ventures over the coming year.

  • Fifty-two applications were received this year.
  • Twenty-one alumni reviewers gave in-depth comments and feedback.
  • Twenty-four teams were invited to interview, and 10 were selected for a total of $140,000.

All awards include:

  • Direct support for next steps with the venture
  • Co-working space at FastForward U
  • Access to mentors and advisors

These awards are made possible by the Thalheimer Foundation, the Hu Foundation, the John Avirett family, and additional generous philanthropic support from our alumni and friends.


A collaboration tool that enables software teams to work together in real-time to view, edit and share application development.

David Thomas (WSE ’25): In high school, David built a social platform for his school that has over 7 million interactions to date, as well as a wildfire prevention and monitoring system for Itron, which is used in Northern California by the electricity company PG&E to this day. He recently worked at venture-backed startups Clerk  and Authentic as a software engineer.

Ryan Brewer (former WSE ’25, now at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute): In high school, Ryan authored a Discord bot for sneaker resellers that aggregated over 300,000 installs. He also worked at a venture-backed startup called Rose AI, which is transforming the way financial institutions acquire and interact with data using artificial intelligence.

Kevin Xu (WSE ’25): Kevin co-authored Tabulo, a virtual whiteboarding application, and has also won over a dozen hackathons. Kevin is a software engineer intern at Google this summer.

Award Details:
The Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Awards enables up to two Johns Hopkins undergraduate-led startups with grant funding of $10,000. The awards enable students to focus on building a successful company. Ideal applications will validate the business’ technical and revenue approaches and demonstrate success in securing other grants or investments. Winners of previous awards have typically already been incorporated (or became so shortly after winning).


Revolutionizing insurance authorization through artificial intelligence and blockchain technology.

Siddharth Chauhan (University of California at San Diego ’23): Siddharth’s research focuses on machine learning and artificial intelligence pertaining to pangenomics. He provides expertise on the platform’s AI and blockchain components and technical development.

John Doner (University of Pennsylvania ’19): John was an intensive care unit manager and clinical nurse, and has expertise in hospital to post-acute care transitions of care and leveraging connections with hospital key stakeholders.

Alex Klotsche (Carey ’22): Alex was previously a hospital case manager, and has expertise in hospital transition to post-acute care, transitions of care and case management. Alex is currently part-time lecturer at Northeastern University, and can assist with onboarding target stakeholders and end-users.

Jordan Lapid (Our Lady of Fatima University ’11): Jordan is an ICU nurse who provides expertise in clinical pathways and interfacing with international development team and contractors.

Jarrett Rodrigues (Carey ’23): Jarrett brings more than 10 years of expertise in health care, insurance, research, innovation and product development. He was previously a senior manager at Blue Cross Blue Shield, a consultant at UnitedHealth Group, and an associate at Huron Consulting Group.

Credit: Will Kirk/JHU

An edible adhesive tape that keeps all your favorite food securely closed to reduce waste and allow for a mess-free eating experience.

Marie Eric (WSE ‘24): Marie (pictured left) is a fifth year master’s student in chemical and biomolecular engineering. She has extensive knowledge in biomaterials, a skill that helps perfect TasteeTape.

Tyler Guarino (WSE ‘24) Tyler (pictured right) is currently earning her Master of Science in Engineering Management with a focus on chemical product design. 

On a mission to reduce the carbon footprint of the construction industry by using innovative materials engineering.

Chu Ding (WSE ’22): Chu is a co-founder and on the advisory board of JJ IM for engineering and target market consulting. Chu has four years of experience at SK&A Structural Engineering Consulting. Chu brings ample experience in structural engineering and field experience to provide insight and advice for product development and administrative and regulatory approval processes to JJ IM.

Tae Jeong Kim (WSE ’24): Tae Jeong is a co-founder and manager of product quality and testing of JJ IM. Tae Jeong brings insight on chemical and biomolecular knowledge for developing innovative construction materials. His insight allows JJ IM to look at product development from the perspective of chemical and biomolecular engineering on top of materials engineering.

Taein Lee (WSE ’22): Taerin is a co-founder and CEO of JJ IM. Taein studied and came up with the idea of developing environmentally friendly innovative construction materials products. His experience in materials engineering has allowed the design and development of JJ IM’s technology. He has also funded the capital for initial research and development equipment and raw materials. Taein’s has published eight papers and has five currently in review. His expertise in controlling the structural, electrical and optical properties by altering nano- and micro-structures of organic material by engineering design and processing procedures has become the base technology of JJ IM. Taein also has experience in real estate property management, like Mark, and is therefore familiar with the construction materials industry.

Mark Wo (WSE ’16): Mark is a co-founder and head of product development and operations manager of JJ IM. Mark brings knowledge of nano- and micro-level structural engineering concepts. Mark also has more than two years of experience real estate property management, and is familiar with tax accounting, business activity and operations, and the construction materials industry.

Award Details:
The FastForward U Thalheimer Graduate Student Awards supports up to three Johns Hopkins graduate student ventures aiming to solve major challenges through entrepreneurship. This year three, $10,000 prizes were awarded. Ideal candidates are actively prototyping or close to a working MVP (Minimum Viable Product).


Intends to make eye drop application foolproof.

Ananya Tandri (SOM): Ananya has extensive biomedical device design experience, including several research implementations and one device currently being used in clinical trials. For her undergraduate degree, she majored in biomedical engineering and mathematics, equipping her with significant technical and practical knowledge.

Enabling magnetic control and activation of cell therapies to bring localized treatment to cancer, autoimmune disorders and more.

MagGenix presenting at Demo Day

The Team:
All team members have extensive experience developing synthetic biology (SynBio) projects from start to finish. Joshua Devier (WSE ’23), Sreenivas Eadara (KSAS ’23), Maya Zhang (WSE ’24), and Joshua Zhou (WSE ’25) have competed and won multiple awards in the iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine) competition, a SynBio competition where teams reprogram cells to perform specialized tasks.

With extensive programming skills, Zhang and Zhou have set a brisk developmental pace via computational design, expediting testing and saving bootstrapped funds. Eadara runs a synthetic biology program on campus, in which he organizes a team of more than 20 students to conduct group wet lab research, and he designs power and digital electronics for hobby and research.

The team led by Devier, is engaged in novel research at The Johns Hopkins Hospital and works with SynBio startups. He founded two startups at Johns Hopkins, raising capital to take these ideas from brainstorming to prototyping to in vivo trials.

Together, the team is united over a dedication to bio-inspired design and clinical synthetic biology. With extraordinary research, leadership and entrepreneurial skill sets, the team has the experience and drive to make MagGenix a force in the cellular engineering space. Additional team members include Nathaniel Sheps (WSE ’26) and Vignesh Vanchinathan (WSE ’25)

Award Details:
The Summer MedTech Awards support up to two JHU student-led startups working on medical technology to help make significant progress on their venture. This year two 10,000 prizes were awarded. The awards are coupled mentorship from experienced MedTech entrepreneurs, who can offer guidance for the next steps to market.


First Place, $30,000:
Serving as a safety net for those at risk of opioid overdose, QuikReversal is developing a disposable, non-electronic wearable that can automatically detect lethal opioid overdose and deliver the antidote, naloxone.

Asher Varon (WSE)

Second Place, $20,000:
Teaching Tools
We build online tools to scale effective, inclusive college teaching.

The Team:
Meghan McCreary (Oberlin College ’16): Before co-founding and working on Teaching Tools full time, Meghan was a professional software engineer for a large fintech company who led a multimillion-dollar acquisition integration.

Michael McCreary (KSAS ’23)

Award Details:
The Bisciotti Foundation Prizes for Student Entrepreneurship are nondilutive grants designed to help student startups scale their businesses as they graduate from our FastForward U student entrepreneurship programs on campus. They create a runway for our most promising student entrepreneurs and recent alums, providing them with valuable funding to transform their early-stage startups into high-growth companies, especially those considering staying in Baltimore. Ideal applicants will be pre-Series A, but have received significant grants, venture funding or revenue. This year, two prizes totaling $50,000 were awarded.



The Kubanda cryoablation device leverages the widespread MagGenix: of carbon dioxide in even remote areas of low-income countries to treat breast cancer. (Courtesy of Bailey Surtees)

Kubanda Cryotherapy
Kubanda’s device disrupts the veterinary surgical market as the first minimally invasive treatment for tumors in pets. Both founders have expertise in cryobiology, engineering, manufacturing, design thinking and business development.

Bailey Surtees (WES ’17): Bailey has managed Kubanda since its inception, connecting resources to accelerate Kubanda’s success as a medical device company and augmenting her team’s expertise with key advisors in business development, finance and veterinary research.

Yixin (Clarisse) Hu (WSE ’19): Clarisse was awarded an O-1 extraordinary ability visa in recognition of her unique cryotherapy expertise. She has designed, built and validated medical devices in accordance with FDA standards, and run NIH-funded clinical trials.Katie Ogg (B.S., WSE ’22, mechanical engineering): Katie is Kubanda’s most recent hire. She has experience in thermal engineering (both from her master’s and co-op work), and is excited to connect user feedback back to the lab and the team.

Part-time team:
Aydin Turkay (WSE ’23): Aydin has worked with Kubanda since his first semester at Johns Hopkins, and he continues to grow as a clinician-engineer. He’s committed to continuing to work with Kubanda part time in a gap year before medical school. In addition to his passion for this work, Aydin’s research and business acumen has made him a great contributor to both in-vitro trials and market research and strategy.

Rebecca Rosenberg, founder of ReBokeh.

A smartphone-based assistive technology for users with moderate vision impairment. By overlaying image adjustments on a live camera feed, users can create condition-specific video filters that enhance their existing vision and promote independence and dignity.

Rebecca Rosenberg (WSE ’22)

Award Details:
 This award supports up to two ventures founded and run by a Johns Hopkins alum who has graduated in the last five years (2019–2023), who currently resides in or is committed to relocating to Baltimore, and is growing their business in the local ecosystem. This year, two $15,000 prizes were awarded.