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Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures to launch health accelerator

Hopkins plans to offer health care start-ups some support.

The arm of Johns Hopkins University that seeks to turn new technology into thriving businesses plans to launch a healthcare-focused accelerator, possibly within the next nine months.

Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures has launched several efforts to push out new products and services developed by Hopkins faculty and students in recent years, but this venture aims not only to aid those in-house but others outside of the university who want to start-up or move to Baltimore to take advantage of the thriving health and medical environment.

The aim to boost the city's fortunes with new jobs, something that has taken on new urgency since the unrest last year after the death of Freddie Gray from injuries sustained in police custody, said Elizabeth Smyth, senior director of strategic initiatives at Hopkins.

The ventures office won $25,000 in funding last month from Village Capital, which trains and invests in seed-stage entrepreneurs. Hopkins also will invest an undetermined amount and other partners are being sought. The start-ups will get access to practical resources such as offices and accounting help, but also mentors and other support.

"Village Capital has discovered that many successful accelerators have a real focus," Smyth said. "Health care, digital health, we're still working out our exact focus within the healthcare space. But it's clearly a regional strength here, and we have myriad assets."

When Village Capital announced that Baltimore would get funding, it said it planned to help 16 regions often underserved by mainstream investment capital find, train and invest in startups.

"Entrepreneurs across the U.S. can solve society's greatest problems — building their communities in the process," said Ross Baird, Village Capital's executive director, in a statement. "Yet most entrepreneurs across the U.S. today don't have a shot at the resources they need to grow: 78 percent of investment capital in the U.S. goes to just three states. VilCap Communities will help close this gap."

meredith.cohn@baltsun.com

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