400+ Inventions, Millions In Revenues Touted By Hopkins Start-Ups
Unlike other industries, the biotech sector hardly slowed during the coronavirus pandemic. The latest annual report from Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures (JHTV) touted local growth in a bounce-back year. The write-up, released earlier this month, pointed to major acquisitions, research partnerships, and hundreds of inventions.
“Fiscal Year 2021 was an extraordinary one for Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures despite the challenges of the pandemic,” Executive Director Christy Wyskiel told BioBuzz in an email. “We took full advantage of the momentum from the last few years.”
The innovation group painted Baltimore as a booming technology hub, mentioning that 99% of the city’s life sciences real estate is occupied. These companies are growing.
This January, Exact Sciences finalized its $2.2 billion purchase of Thrive Earlier Detection, a company-sponsored by Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures. Wyskiel called it “the largest acquisition of a JHU company to date.” Thrive Earlier Detection drew attention last summer after raising $257 million to fund a liquid biopsy test that checks for cancer.
Hopkins also announced an extension of its research partnership with Bayer AG, a German pharmaceutical business. The duo renewed the deal in May, and it lasts through 2024. The alliance will fund potential treatments from the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute.
Though Hopkins made splashes with large contracts, the team additionally developed budding ideas into tangible products.
Hopkins’ remote-controlled ventilators enjoyed a spotlight on NBC Nightly News. ClearMask sold 12.5 million transparent face coverings. And emocha Health created a mobile application to help employees safely return to work.
“JHTV helped emocha get off the ground in 2014 and continues to be one of our biggest champions as we grow,” emocha CEO Sebastian Seiguer told BioBuzz in a separate email, noting that his team made strides in asthma, cardiac, diabetes, and tuberculosis treatments. “This year’s annual report once again demonstrates JHTV’s impact on innovation and entrepreneurship at Johns Hopkins and in Baltimore and beyond.”
Breakthroughs also included work from Hopkins students. The Baltimore university runs an entrepreneurial student hub called FastForward U. Nearly $30 million of fundraising supported 123 student initiatives during the last fiscal year, which ran from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021.
One of these projects hopes to make fashion more sustainable. The start-up, Mo. Na. Gems, wants to replace plastic accessories with biodegradable jewelry. That idea won the top prize at this April’s Fuel Demo Day, a competition where student-run companies compete for investments.
Altogether, 40 students served as fellows for the Commercialization Academy at Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures. These fellows scored jobs at AstraZeneca, Bloomberg, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
“JHTV provided the exposure and experiences I needed to make informed decisions about the direction to take my studies and career,” stated fellow Samiksha Ramesh, who is now a biomedical engineering technical advisor for Ropes & Gray LLP.
The Social Innovation Lab at Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures produced similar success. The lab ran a five-month accelerator for 10 mission-driven teams.
Winifred A. Winston of Dyslexia Advocation Inc. won the lab’s $25,000 Cohort Prize. Her nonprofit educates and empowers locals with dyslexia and their families.
Another $10,000 went to Sridevi V. Sarma, an associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. Sarma earned the money at the Pitch It On! competition for female inventors in the AccelHERator effort. She pitched EZTrack, a brain heat map that helps doctors spot the source of seizures in drug-resistant epilepsy patients.
Innovations like these helped Hopkins land 144 licensing agreements worth a combined $38.9 million in fiscal year 2021. That’s not counting the $768 million in venture funding from 30 start-ups or the $496 million in public equity offerings.
Altogether, the JHTV team generated 444 inventions and 166 new U.S. patents.
“Baltimore continues to be a great place to start and grow a scalable, tech-centered business,” added Wyskiel, who is also the senior adviser to the president of Johns Hopkins University for innovation and entrepreneurship. “We are honored to help our student and faculty innovators bring their ideas to market.”
Click here to read the full fiscal year 2021 annual report from Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures.
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