Tag: FastForward U

Student Ventures

New Microgrants to Spark Johns Hopkins’ Student Innovators

New Microgrants to Spark Johns Hopkins’ Student Innovators


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.

FFU’s Kevin Carter leading a student workshop
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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11 Startups with JHTV Ties Rank Among Baltimore’s Best

11 Startups with JHTV Ties Rank Among Baltimore’s Best

In the last six months, Personal Genome Diagnostics (PGDx) raised a $75 million series B, Harpoon Medical sold for $100 million and Sunayu acquired Fractal Technology. Which Baltimore startup is next?

According to Technical.ly, businesses associated with Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures (JHTV) are leading the next generation of Baltimore startups. Last week, the publication released the realLIST to catalogue the city’s “top companies who have already shown promise.” The top six companies ranked and 11 of the 20 mentioned have ties to JHTV.


Technical.ly selected a group of startups tackling diverse challenges related to manufacturing, education, health care, social issues and more. To determine “promise,” considerations included:

  • Boldness of idea
  • Talent levels of founders and team
  • Customer base and revenue
  • Investment capital
  • Potential impact
  • Office space



1. READY Robotics
The FastForward startup based in City Garage enables small- and medium-sized manufacturers to unlock the productivity and potential of robots. The company’s software, which it installs in pre-made manufacturing robots, allows manufacturers to change the tasks their robots perform in hours, instead of days or weeks.
2. Osmosis
A venture in the 2013-2014 Social Innovation Lab (SIL) cohort, Osmosis has created web- and mobile-based interactive learning experiences and an online community to help medical school students study. The startup co-founded by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine students recently expanded into print.
3. FactoryFour
FactoryFour is a solution that automates manufacturing processes for the production of orthotics, eyewear and footwear, reducing lead time and eliminating errors. Johns Hopkins University undergraduates Param Shah and Alex Mathews co-founded the company and used a number of JHTV resources. In addition to participating in SIL’s 2015-2016 cohort, the Mount Vernon-based startup received funding and mentorship through the Summer Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Award.
4. Intelehealth
Led by Johns Hopkins University graduate student Neha Goel, Intelehealth operates in the telemedicine space and is developing a mobile app that improves access to health care for remote and underserved communities. Intelehealth was a member of the 2016-2017 SIL cohort.
5. Proscia
Operating in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, Proscia is ushering in an era of computational pathology. Proscia CEO David West, who founded the company with other Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering undergraduates, aims to give pathologists a quantitative view of cancer, enabling them to improve patient outcomes. Proscia received funding and mentorship from JHTV’s Ralph S. O’Connor Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Fund.
6. b.Well
B.Well’s online platform puts people at the center of their health care by simplifying access to health data, insurance and on-demand health services. The startup participated in the M-1 Ventures accelerator where it grew its pipeline 300 percent and won one of two $25,000 awards.
8. B-360
B-360 is on a mission to end the cycle of poverty and build bridges in communities through a STEM education program and advocacy program centered on Baltimore’s dirt bike culture. B-360 participated in Social Innovation Lab as a member of its 2016-2017 cohort.


Sunrise Health
Co-founded in 2016 by two Johns Hopkins University students, Sunrise Health is developing a mobile app for anonymous, text-based group therapy that increases mental health support for patients and maximizes health care providers’ efficiency. Sunrise Health participated in the 2016-2017 Social Innovation Lab cohort, received support from the Ralph S. O’Connor Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Fund and the Whiting Student Initiatives Fund.
BurnAlong provides an online video fitness and wellness platform that enables users to work out with top instructors from across the country and their friends. After participating in M-1 Ventures, BurnAlong had 400 business partners and more than 3,000 members. The company also won $25,000 through M-1 Ventures.
Portable Alternative Crib
Shantell Roberts distributes safe sleep baby boxes and supplies to Baltimore families to reduce the rate of sudden infant death syndrome in the city. She was a member of the 2016-2017 SIL cohort, winning the $25,000 prize at the conclusion of the program.
A member of FastForward, PathoVax is developing a universal Human Papillomavirus vaccine. Co-founded by two Johns Hopkins University graduate students, the startup recently received two federal grants totaling $2.5 million that will help the company push its first product to clinical trials.

Click here to learn more about Johns Hopkins startups!


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