A new space designed to promote student entrepreneurship is open near Johns Hopkins University's Homewood campus as the school welcomes students back to campus this week.
The space, housed at 29th Street and Remington Avenue, was constructed as part of Johns Hopkins Tech Ventures' effort to be more proactive about encouraging student entrepreneurship — and building infrastructure to support it. Tech Ventures is the intellectual property and commercialization arm of the university.
The organization supports startup companies through funding and mentorship, and manages four FastForward incubator/accelerator spaces near Johns Hopkins' university and medical campuses.
FastForward U Homewood is a 10,000-square-foot space where students can come to learn about innovation and entrepreneurship, work on an idea for a startup or to use the tools and 3-D printers in a 2,000-square-foot onsite makerspace. It is housed about a mile from the main university campus, and will be accessible by Hopkins shuttles.
Hopkins students will have free access to FastForward U. The space will host seminars on innovation-related topics, as well as events like monthly pitch nights, where students can share their venture ideas and get feedback. It could also be used by clubs or organizations in need of meeting space.
It has a different look, feel and purpose than the three other FastForward spaces already in existence.
Brian Stansky, senior director of FastForward, said the incubators at 1812 Ashland Ave. in East Baltimore and above the R. House food hall in Remington — right across the street from the newest space — are both dedicated to the more commercial side of FastForward's operations. They house startups and other more mature ventures that are working to grow with the help of Tech Ventures.
The first FastForward U operation is housed in a 3,200-square-foot space near the Johns Hopkins schools of medicine, nursing and public health in East Baltimore. That space is much smaller than the new Remington operation and has coworking desks and offices, as it was originally designed as another commercial space.
FastForward U Homewood is designed to be "very open and very flexible," Stansky said. There are desks and tables for students to work at and a few conference rooms for meetings, but most of the space and furnishings can be altered or adapted depending on needs of students or organizations. Stansky said it has already seen a lot of interest from different student and faculty groups.
FastForward U is aiming to reach out to more Hopkins students and get them involved with entrepreneurship, he said, no matter their discipline or level of experience.
"We're here for everyone from the student who is working on their fourth startup idea, to the student who has no idea what a startup is," Stansky said.
The space will host introduction to entrepreneurship courses, as well as other venture-building seminars and events featuring experienced, proven entrepreneurs from within the Hopkins network. More programming will be built out as Tech Ventures staff as they get a better idea of what the students want and need, Stansky said.
Stansky also pointed out that though the space is starting out with a mostly black and white color scheme, he hopes it will "evolve" and that more color will be added in as the students "make the space what they want it to be."