FastForward U

Johns Hopkins students have access to a new funding source designed to ignite innovative ideas that may one day develop into the next great company founded by a university student.

In March, FastForward U will disburse its first Spark Grants, awards of between $500 and $1,000 given to full-time undergraduate and graduate students intent on building a nonprofit organization, for-profit business or novel technology.

“Student feedback indicated that even small monetary awards can have a big impact in the creation of a new venture,” says Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures Director of Student Ventures Darius Graham. “These Spark Grants will enable our student innovators to test or validate an idea, build a prototype or launch a pilot project.”

Each month during the fall and spring semesters, FastForward U representatives will accept and review applications from Johns Hopkins students. To be considered, students must attend an “Intro to Entrepreneurship: Where and How to Begin” workshop which FastForward U will host several times each semester.

The first application deadline is February 28, and eligible students will have two other opportunities to apply for funding in the spring 2018 semester. Subsequent deadlines are March 31 and April 30. FastForward U will inform applicants of its decision the month following the application submission. Students not selected to receive a Spark Grant may re-apply after implementing feedback provided by FastForward U.

The Spark Grants supplement two existing FastForward U programs, the Ralph S. O’Connor Undergraduate Fund and the Summer Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Award. These opportunities, created through the generous support of two Johns Hopkins alumni, provide funding and mentorship to a half dozen undergraduate ventures each year, but Johns Hopkins has a large and growing community of student innovators.

“The O’Connor Fund and Summer Award have proved invaluable to nearly two dozen undergraduate startups since 2014,” Graham says. “However, we currently have more than 100 student-led ventures, and many of those have graduate student leaders. These Spark Grants will enable even more Johns Hopkins’ student innovators to accelerate their entrepreneurial pursuits.”

FastForward U will have its next “Intro to Entrepreneurship” session in FastForward U East at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 28. Students can RSVP here.

The March “Intro to Entrepreneurship” session will take place in FastForward U Homewood at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 13. Students can RSVP here.

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