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New business accelerator to target health and fitness technology companies

A new startup accelerator program based at the Johns Hopkins University’s FastForward East will target companies developing health and fitness technologies.

Hopkins is teaming up with the University of Maryland, Plank Industries, Brown Advisory and the Abell Foundation to launch the 16-week program, called M-1 Ventures, in September.

“I see all these accelerators out there and they’re cool,” said Paul Singh, an angel investor who will lead the program. “But particularly when it comes from an investor’s standpoint, I think what a lot of these companies need is a vertical accelerator.”

By “vertical accelerator,” Singh means one that is focused on a particular topic area — in this case, health and fitness technology — rather than offering general business services.

“By focusing this accelerator on connected health and fitness, M-1 Ventures takes advantage of our regional strengths to provide startups in this business vertical with a clearer path to success,” Christy Wyskiel, a senior adviser to the president of the Johns Hopkins University and leader of Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures, said in a statement.

Maryland has long been known for its strengths in health and medicine, and many of the companies coming out of Hopkins and the University of Maryland are built on health or medical research.

Plank Industries is the umbrella organization for Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank’s private investments, including a venture capital fund and City Garage, a startup hub that has space dedicated to testing new design and manufacturing techniques for Under Armour.

M-1 Ventures is open to companies from anywhere in the country. Five will be selected to participate.

Accelerator leaders are looking for companies that are “beyond the idea stage,” with a product for sale and revenue, Singh said.

Participants will receive $25,000, legal and accounting services, access to experts who will be brought in from around the country, and co-working space at FastForward East, Hopkins’ startup hub in the Rangos Building.

Participants will also get individual mentoring from Singh and Tony D’Agostino, an entrepreneur and former banking executive who has been tapped to run the program with Singh.

The program will kick off Sept. 5 and conclude with a Demo Day in December, where entrepreneurs will be able to meet potential investors and partners.

sarah.gantz@baltsun.com

twitter.com/sarahgantz

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