Startups

These Johns Hopkins student-created startups earned $170,000 from FastForward U

A baker's dozen's worth of Johns Hopkins student-created ventures received a total of $170,000 at the second iteration of the annual Innovation & Entrepreneurship Challenge.

Exterior of the FastForward U building in Baltimore's Remington neighborhood.

(Photo via Facebook)

13 companies founded by Johns Hopkins University (JHU) pupils received close to $170,000 in total award money during FastForward U’s second annual Innovation & Entrepreneurship Challenge.

The contest featured companies in fields ranging from medtech to social networking. More than 50 student startups applied for five awards that each offered cash prizes worth as much as $30,000.

The grand Bisciotti Foundation Prize for Student Entrepreneurship, which offers $30,000 for first place and $20,000 for second, recognizes promising companies that plan to stay in Baltimore and already earned some amount of money before applying. First place went to Eyedea Medical, a medtech startup that works to ease the burden of corneal blindness and has already started human trials. Sequoia Neurovitality, which uses acoustic stimulation with a smart headband to tackle older adults’ cognitive decline by improving deep sleep, took second place.

The Summer MedTech Award offered $10,000 to each of these three medtech startups:

The Summer Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Award also gave $10,000 to three companies.

  • DioTeX, which is developing an internal diagnostic tool to quickly detect hemorrhaging
  • Paths, a career-focused social networking app where users post audio snippets about professional journeys, advice and mentorship
  • StetPulse, which is creating a unique UVC lightbox to disinfect medical equipment

The $20,000 Alumni Venture Award went to Common Treat, which is creating mushroom powders and capsules that stave off cognitive decline and support mental health.

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Lastly, the Thalheimer Graduate Student Award gave $10,000 to four companies that are tackling major societal challenges through entrepreneurship:

  • Class Equity created an online platform for K-12 students to build financial literacy and goals.
  • Leaders of Africa is designing upskilling experiences and edtech tools to shift narratives about Africa’s impact on global innovation.
  • OvuBrush developed a smart toothbrush that tracks the menstrual cycle in real-time.
  • Sia Precision Education is improving educational programs for incarcerated students through AI.

A statement listing the various winners noted that this year’s funding pool, bolstered by gifts from such JHU alumni as Warby Parker cofounder Jeff Raider, and nearly doubled last year’s awards tally.


Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation. -30-
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