Early-stage incubator founded at JHU offers funding for student entrepreneurs

Social Innovation Lab seeks proposals aimed at solving local, global problems; up to 15 projects to receive $1,000 in seed funding

Greg Rienzi / September 3, 2013 10:11:00 am Posted in University News, Health, Science+Technology, Student Life

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Altruism and ingenuity, meet your point of departure.

The Social Innovation Lab, an early-stage incubator based in Baltimore, has put out a call for applications aimed at Johns Hopkins entrepreneurs who have proposals to help their fellow man.

The SIL, founded in 2011 by Johns Hopkins students, looks to support promising companies that target innovative solutions to local and global problems. The organization provides funding, mentorship, development workshops, media exposure, and other resources and services to transform concepts into mission-driven organizations with sustainable business models.

For this current call for applications, the SIL plans to seed up to 15 projects with $1,000 per team, and provide a broad range of other resources and support. The funds are made possible through the support of the Office of the President.

Projects can be in any stage of development, and grants are available to both graduate and undergraduate teams. Kunal Parikh, executive director of The Social Innovation Lab and a graduate student in the department of biomedical engineering at the School of Medicine, says the SIL is looking for "high-potential social entrepreneurs with demonstrated ability" and "novel ideas that solve a real and significant problem."

To date, the organization has incubated 20 student-led projects across a range of sectors, from healthcare to medtech, and global health to employment re-entry. Startups include a nonprofit health clinic in East Baltimore (Charm City Clinic), a fruit delivery project (Froots & Co.), a mentorship project for teens with a desire and promise to become physicians (MERIT), and a website that allows people who have been diagnosed with curable STDs to send anonymous emails to their partners to let them know that they should get tested (So They Can Know).

The Social Innovation Lab takes a holistic approach to developing and scaling social enterprises, aiding in team recruitment, identifying mentors, providing a year-long curriculum, and hosting networking opportunities, all culminating in an annual Pitch Day designed to showcase the work of each team and rally community support.

The SIL continues to develop a network of thought-leaders, students, institutions, service providers, entrepreneurs, and "do-gooders" across disciplines in order to support the most promising social enterprises.

This year, SIL partnered with the Maryland Institute College of Art's Master of Arts in Social Design Program to provide projects with additional design expertise and leadership.

The application deadline is Sept. 21.

Additional information about the Social Innovation Lab and application forms can be found at www.thesocialinnovationlab.org. For questions, contact team@thesocialinnovationlab.org.

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