(Photo by Stephen Babcock)
Johns Hopkins University (JHU) students forming startups have gained resources like space, funding and programming in recent years, and a demo event held inside Remington’s FastForward U (FFU) Homewood space on Friday night provided a look at what some of them are building, from health and virtual reality businesses to new products for the lab.
Along with exhibition tables that included demos from a dozen companies, nine startups pitched to judges. Many got support through Hopkins programs such as the Ralph S. O’Connor Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Fund.
Here’s a look at the companies we saw pitch:
VecTech — Winner of a $10,000 grant
With other team members in Brazil conducting pilot studies, cofounder Adam Goodwin pitched for a startup seeking to apply new technology to the process of monitoring for mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria. The company’s smart trap captures mosquitos and provides an image with a built-in camera, and the system counts them — tagged using GPS coordinates — and identifies the species. The data is then provided on a dashboard where an expert can review it. This speeds up the process of gathering data, and time is especially important when seeking to control an outbreak.
Ethan Agarwal, founder and CEO of New York-based Aaptiv and a Johns Hopkins alum, presented Goodwin with the big check for the VK Agarwal Innovation Award.
Anish Mokha and Paarth Sharma pitched a water purification system that’s designed to be used in developing countries. The tabletop device is manually powered, and stands out with an ability to filter out mental contaminants. The teams started work in their dorm room and now wants to manufacture with local facilities in Baltimore.
Black Scientists Matter
Michael Hopkins pointed to statistics showing STEM participation by people of color and women has remained stagnant, even as job openings have grown. To empower Black people seeking to pursue science and technology, Black Scientists Matter is launching social media and branding and working toward a multimedia platform focused on improving science education.
When it comes to distribution, CEO Byron D’mello said the bottled bubble tea brand earned traction with seven stores in the area with a focus on the university area. Now the company is looking to expand in ecommerce. The company’s product is made in Locust Point.
Femi Erinoso pitched a platform that’s aiming to shape “the future of eLearning in Africa.” The company is providing health education content for physicians and dentists. The content includes courses and accreditation opportunities, and is being used in Nigeria and Ghana.
Dmitri Tselenchuk and Joseph Varriale are looking to combat waste in the process of performing lab tasks. Their company developed a container with stackable components that’s designed to be the one vessel used for different parts of preparing a solution. The company is also looking to encourage sustainability through recycling and incentives.
The startup is looking to solve a key problem that’s associated with dialysis for patients living with kidney failure: Half of patients suffer an infection as a result of the treatment. The startup developed PeritoneX, a device which is designed to disinfect the points that could be contaminated during setup of the treatment. The company was pitched by Tejasvi Desai, Sarah Lee and Anna Bailey.
Owen Friesen and Nikhil Baddam are looking to add the sensation of touch to a virtual reality experience. The duo is developing a haptic glove that responds to changes in the environment by stiffening select joints in the hand. They believe this could be especially effective for training of people performing high-risk procedures like brain surgery or airplane assembly.
“We envision a world which combines the physical and the virtual to make learning better,” Friesen said.
Jade — Audience choice winner
The audience was also given the chance to weigh in on startups that were demoing around the room. Jade, a pop-up kitchen concept by Jesse Wu, won a $1,000 Spark grant from FFU on the night. Wu is hosting fixed-price Chinese-American dinners at events held inside college apartments.
In other student funding news …
Separate from the demo day, JHU also awarded funding to winners of the inaugural Bisciotti Foundation Prize for Student Entrepreneurship this month.
The winning teams included the following:
- Kubanda Cryotherapy received $30,000. The team of engineering students and alums is developing a device for pet cancer care, which freezes and kills cancerous masses in a single veterinary visit. The team includes Bailey Surtees, Yixin Hu, Pascal Acree, Grace Kuroki, Evelyn McChesney, Varun Kedia, Andrea Niu, Dennis Gong and Rebecca Yu.
- AssistENT received $20,000. Clayton Andrews and Patrick Byrne are building a nasal breathing aid that can be worn all day. This can be an alternative to surgery or nasal strips.
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