Wednesday night’s introduction to a new cohort of Johns Hopkins Social Innovation Lab startups was a reminder that tech and innovation tools are as much about who they are targeted at as it is what they do.
Several projects had the hallmarks of lots of tech tools, but they are being targeted at audiences and spaces that don’t always benefit.
The team behind one venture said their platform gathers and processes data like TurboTax, but it’s designed for rural health workers. Another allows temporary booking, which may sound like another startup until you get to the fact that it’s for pickup games at rec and community centers.
The approaches are driven by diverse founders. Director Darius Graham pointed out that 90 percent of the ventures are led by women or people of color. The ideas also come from beyond campus, as four of the 10 projects are from community members who are not directly affiliated with the university.
The six-month program offers $1,000, and access to mentors and programming leading up to a pitch event in April.
Here’s a full rundown of the projects:
1. Touching Young Lives
- Shantell Roberts is developing tools and education programs to reduce the occurrence of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in Maryland.
- JHU engineering alum Nikhil Panu is developing a platform where people can book rec and community centers to play pickup games.
3. Project Charmify
- Three Hopkins undergrads are addressing the city’s preponderance of vacant lots through small-scale investments. The team includes Elyse Oliver, Darius Irani and Jack Alpert.
- The team described this project as “TurboTax, but for rural health workers.” Neha Goel, Amal Afroz Alam and Emily Eggert are creating a telemedicine platform that gathers data to assist those workers in delivering primary care.
5. Listening Lab
- Rebecca Smithorn and AnnMarie Stockmeyer are creating a music listening education program for fourth- and fifth-graders.
- Meg Stoltzfus, a Johns Hopkins staff member, is developing technology to provide breast pumping technology through vending machines.
- A team of Johns Hopkins engineering students and alums are developing a mobile app for text-based group therapy. The team includes Shrenik Jain, Ravi Shah and Satya Bommaraju.
8. Bent Carrot
- Mark Corser is developing a program to reduce food insecurity in the city.
9. The Whole Teacher
- JHU alum Jenna Shaw is looking to reduce burnout among teachers by providing health and wellness services.
10. B360/BCCC STEM Scholars
- Brittany Young is looking to expose more students to STEM in Baltimore, and connect them to opportunities for GEDs or attending community college.
Well done to include @WholeTeacher, a sincere value prop with impending impact.
— Frank Bonsal III (@FrankBonsal) October 27, 2016
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