FastForward U—the university's student entrepreneurship initiative within Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures—recently announced the five student startups that will receive funding this year through the Ralph S. O'Connor Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Fund.
This year, the program received 31 student applications, a group that was narrowed to 12 finalists before the final cohort was selected. Team members from the selected startups gathered last week for a welcome dinner and orientation at FastForward R. House in North Baltimore.
"I'm really excited about the five teams we selected for the O'Connor Fund," said Darius Graham, director of student ventures at JHTV. "They represent a broad range of novel ideas—from creating a more affordable, accessible pediatric hearing screening device for developing countries to building a new machine that combines the capabilities of a 3D printer, laser cutter, and other tools. Our efforts over the next five months will be to help these teams build upon these ideas and the work they've already done to bring them to life, in order to help them become viable ventures."
Founded by Johns Hopkins alum Ralph O'Connor and his wife, Becky, the O'Connor Fund program provides each cohort member a $5,000 grant with an opportunity to earn $5,000 more by reaching certain milestones. FastForward U, the steward of the O'Connor Fund, provides a range of services, programming, mentorship, and funding opportunities to student innovators and entrepreneurs to help them develop the solutions of tomorrow, today.
The 2018 cohort includes:
Weel Social Inc.: A decentralized social network that aims to bring the social experience of retail shopping to an increasingly eCommerce-based world (Team lead: Eyan Goldman, Class of 2020)
Treyetech: A business-to-business venture that facilitates corneal transplants with a new device and workflow that improves patients' vision beyond the current standard of care (Team lead: Eric Chiang, Class of 2018)
VersaMaker: A maker device with modular tool heads that allow users to change its functionality from 3D printing to CNC routing to laser engraving to liquid printing and more—all from a single, versatile machine (Team lead: Travis Chan, Class of 2020)
OtoGlobal Health: An affordable, smartphone-based otoacoustic emissions device designed to establish the standard of care for pediatric hearing screening in developing countries (Team lead: Aseem Jain, Class of 2018)
Atana: A blockchain-based, collaborative research and development model for patients, researchers, and industry leaders to achieve innovation at scale (Team lead: David Shi, Class of 2018)
Correction: The incorrect team lead for the Treyetech project was listed in an earlier version of this article The Hub regrets the error.