FastForward This!

July 9, 2013

The Whiting School of Engineering announces FastForward, a new strategic initiative designed to help Johns Hopkins faculty and students turn the innovations discovered in their labs into products that benefit society.

FastForward includes an early-stage tech accelerator, comprehensive educational and mentoring programs, and a system for evaluating the commercial viability of potential Hopkins-based startups. In addition to helping Johns Hopkins researchers turn fledgling companies into commercial successes, FastForward is also designed to foster the university’s entrepreneurial culture and spur economic development through investment and growth in Hopkins-launched technology companies.

The tech accelerator, housed in the historic Stieff Silver building near the Homewood campus, already is home to four startups and another four companies are expected to move in over the next few months. “Given the interest we’re already seeing, we’re really on to something here,” said FastForward Director John Fini, who also oversees the Homewood Office of Intellectual Property and Technology Commercialization. “It’s already growing very, very fast. And that says something about of Johns Hopkins’ entrepreneurial spirit.”

FastForward equips start-ups with rent-deferred office space in the Stieff Silver building where they have access to a shared laboratory with top-of-the-line equipment and a machine shop to construct prototypes. Even more critically, the accelerator’s team of business experts helps academics, perhaps more comfortable in a lab, navigate the intricacies of launching a business. The start-ups will receive coaching with everything from writing a business plan to applying for patents to finding potential investors.

Starting this fall, Johns Hopkins will also offer a series of classes to help students understand the fundamentals of business – whether they are considering launching a start-up or merely want preparation for the business world. The Center for Leadership Education in the Whiting School of Engineering is developing the courses.

Inventions being refined through FastFoward include technology for detecting single strands of DNA, cancer testing kits, and a computerized probe that greatly simplifies ultrasound-guided biopsies.

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