JHU early-stage incubator to support 10 business, technology ventures

Social Innovation Lab announces 2015-16 cohort

Ten promising business and tech ventures have been chosen to receive seed funding and support as part of the 2015-16 cohort of Johns Hopkins University's Social Innovation Lab, the group announced Thursday evening.

The Social Innovation Lab, part of Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures, is an early-stage incubator that supports companies and organizations that develop innovative solutions to local and global problems. The group provides funding, mentorship, and resources to build mission-driven organizations with sustainable business models.

The Social Innovation Lab launched its first social enterprise initiative at JHU in 2011 and has since worked with more than 20 organizations spanning a wide range of industries. This year, it accepted applications from organizations without JHU affiliations for the first time. The SIL Advisory Board independently reviewed and scored proposals, choosing the final cohort from a group of 61 applications.

Among the 10 groups in the 2015-16 cohort is a team of JHU students that wants to develop alternative energy solutions for Tanzania and a Baltimore community member who aims to distribute unused school supplies to teachers, schools, and education programs in need of them. Some ideas involve cutting-edge technology, such as the group of engineering students rethinking orthotics. Other ideas involve low-tech, service-driven ideas, like the group of medical, legal, and business professionals creating community outreach programs to improve health in the greater Baltimore area.

The members of the new cohort will work with the Social Innovation Lab through April. The groups selected are:


A loyalty and rewards app that encourages users to support local businesses

Team members: Justin Kwong, JHU alumnus; Adam Eckstein, senior International Studies major


Working to recreate how orthotic devices are made in order to revolutionize the orthopedics industry and positively impact the community

Team members: Param Shah, sophomore Neuroscience major; Alex Mathews, senior biomedical engineering major; Thomas Keady, sophomore Electrical Engineering major; Andrew Colombo, sophomore Mechanical Engineering major; Jenny Park, senior Economics major; Thomas Brazelton, sophomore Mathematics major; and assistant research engineer Yunus Sevimli

Baltimore Teacher Supply Swap

Collects donations of educational materials that are no longer being used and distributes them to teachers, schools, and educational programs who need them

Team member: Melissa Badeker

Hero Lab

Using an original curriculum in resilience training and the science of human flourishing (positive psychology) to nurture gritty school and community change-makers amongst at-risk youth in Baltimore low-income public schools and neighborhoods

Team members: pre-med graduate student Siddhi Sundar and graduate business student Adil Qureshi

Greater Baltimore Health Improvement Initiative

Developing and implementing culturally adapted, health outcome-focused educational and social engagement programs for targeted areas in the greater Baltimore region

Team members: Brian Sims; Sharone Brinkley-Parker, Ed.D.; Ashanti Woods, M.D.; Stephanie Maddin, J.D.; Angela Wells-Sims; Tammitha McIntyre, and Edward Walters

Bright Energy Africa

Bringing sustainable, cost-efficient fuel solutions to Tanzania while providing local citizens with employment, training, and entrepreneurial opportunities

Team members: Miguel Dias, junior Biomedical Engineering major; Yu (Samantha) Wang, junior Electrical Engineering major; Yadel Okorie, junior Mechanical Engineering major; and graduate Mechanical Engineering student Ryan Johnston

Baltimore Tax Credit Project

Preserving homeownership and introducing millions of dollars into the Baltimore economy by taking a data-driven approach to increasing adoption of the Maryland Homeowner's Tax Credit Program

Team members: School of Medicine graduate student Ryan J. Smith

Baltimore Healthy Teaching Kitchen

Engaging the community in lifelong healthy eating habits through hands-on cooking lessons on preparing meals that are nutritious, accessible, and practical

Team members: School of Medicine MD student Helen Knight; MD/PhD student Shannon Wongvibulsin; and JHU research fellow Paul Akre


An online platform that digitally empowers students in Baltimore to showcase and fund their academic needs, interests, and passions

Team members: School of Education alumnus Bobby Moore and community members Laurel Nilon and Derek Durivage


Providing free public astronomy nights for Baltimore's many neighborhoods to promote community-building through science outreach in public spaces

Team members: School of Public Health alumna Audrey Buckland; Rachel Fabi, graduate student at the Bioethics Institute; School of Public Health staff member Isaac Lief; visiting scholar to the Department of Civil Engineering Viva Dadwal; Peabody alumnus Julien Xuereb; and community members Ariel Hicks, Seth Franz, and Joseph Long