Latest Microsoft Innovation Acceleration Awardees Announced

Three startups founded by Johns Hopkins University faculty members or students have each received $50,000 in Microsoft Innovation Acceleration Awards, which support digital technologies. The awardees are tackling wildfire detection, next-generation antibody therapeutics and noninvasive colorectal cancer screening.

Photo of Jeff Gray (left), Jeff Ruffolo (middle), and Tim Aikin (right). They are standing in a bright room and between Jeff Ruffolo and Tim Aikin is a standing banner with Nucleate written on it.

Photo of Jeff Gray (left), Jeff Ruffolo (middle), and Tim Aikin (right).

The awards are an extension of a collaboration established in 2020 between Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures (JHTV) and Microsoft to help startups launch, scale and commercialize. More than a dozen have joined the Microsoft for Startups program in the last two years and received access to technology including Azure, Microsoft 365 and GitHub enterprise programs, as well as Microsoft commercialization support. JHTV also has facilitated almost 100 office hour sessions for Johns Hopkins innovators and the team from Microsoft.

During this cycle of the Microsoft awards, JHTV received a record 26 applications from a mix of faculty members, undergraduate and graduate students, and licensed startups, according to Mark VanderZyl, associate director for startup advancement at FastForward, JHTV’s startup incubator. The digital solutions addressed a variety of areas, including drug development, medical devices and environmental science.

“This application process was a great illustration of just how many industries can be supported by innovation in the digital space, as well as the breadth of innovation occurring at Johns Hopkins,” says VanderZyl, who manages the relationship between JHTV and Microsoft. “We’re thankful to have such a great partner in Microsoft and look forward to seeing how this year’s awardees and all of the teams working with Microsoft continue to advance.”

The award recipients include INBT associate research Jeff Gray.

Ably Bio, which is building a deep-learning platform for rapid development of next-generation antibody therapeutics. The company’s software can predict antibody structure from an amino acid sequence. Ably Bio was founded by Jeffrey Gray, a professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the Whiting School of Engineering; Jeffrey Ruffolo, a molecular biophysics Ph.D. candidate who works in Gray’s laboratory; and Tim Aikin, a graduate student in Molecular Biology and Genetics.

Read the full story by JHTV and all awardees.