Two from Johns Hopkins listed among Baltimore's top young entrepreneurs

'Baltimore Business Journal' includes Reidy, Shah among its '40 Under 40'

J.J. Reidy and Param Shah, two rising entrepreneurs with Johns Hopkins ties, have landed on the Baltimore Business Journal's"40 Under 40" list.

A composite photo of both J.J. Ready (left) and Param Shah

Image caption: J.J. Reidy (left) and Param Shah

The list recognizes local businesspeople "who have excelled quickly within their fields, engaged with the community and made a name for themselves all before the age of 40," according to the publication, which will host a Nov. 3 celebration for the honorees.

Urban Farming Innovator

Reidy launched his startup, Urban Pastoral, as he was wrapping up his MBA at JHU's Carey Business School in spring 2015. Since then, he's made a name for himself in Baltimore's urban farming movement, looking at new ways to produce fresh food locally while creating new jobs.

In a retrofitted shipping container in East Baltimore, Reidy and his team grow greens and culinary herbs to supply to local restaurants and Bon App├ętit Management Co. The goal is to relocate this greenhouse to the Baltimore Food Hub once that campus is ready, and eventually, to replicate the model.

Urban Pastoral practices what is known as "vertical growing," or hydroponics. The system—a rising trend in urban areas where space is limited—delivers nutrients to plants via water and requires no soil.

A larger goal for Reidy is to create a commercial-scale vertical farming system, which could generate mass quantities of produce. He's now on target to make that happen by 2018, on property surrounding the Green Street Academy charter school in West Baltimore.

In the meantime, Reidy has partnered with a new vegetarian/vegan eatery, Stall 11. The venture plans to open this fall as part of the new R. House food hall in the Remington neighborhood.

Med-Tech Entrepreneur

Shah, a Johns Hopkins junior studying computer science, is working to revolutionize orthotics—the billion-dollar medical industry that covers a range of corrective devices, from shoe inserts to leg and spinal braces.

With his startup Fusiform, Shah is working on a faster, cheaper alternative to the tedious hand-casting process that still dominates the industry. The team wants to automate the process, using 3-D scanning with an iPad or tablet along with a modification software that will let physicians create orthotic devices in a matter of hours.

Fusiform has won funding from Accelerate Baltimore and the Abell Foundation, among other startup accelerators.

Shah said via email that Fusiform has also recently secured "a crucial partnership with Autodesk to develop 3D design automation algorithms."

Johns Hopkins roots

Both Reidy and Shah got a boost from the Social Innovation Lab, run by Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures.

The startup incubator provides funding, mentorship, and other resources to help transform nascent concepts into viable businesses. The application period is now open until Oct. 3 for this year's cohort of startups.