There’s a world of difference between a good idea and a business that actually turns a profit. In order to get their companies off the ground, would-be entrepreneurs need office space, equipment, talent, and plenty of good advice — things that can be difficult (or expensive!) to come by in those crucial early stages. Enter Johns Hopkins’ new “business accelerator,” FastForward, which will help transform “the best ideas born on campus into moneymaking ventures.”

FastForward, which makes its home in the historic Stieff Silver building on the eastern edge of the Homewood campus, already houses four fledgling companies; over the next six months, they’ll be joined by four more. These start-ups get rent-deferred office space, access to a shared lab with state-of-the-art equipment, and a machine shop for constructing prototypes.  Hopkins-affiliated business experts will help transform good ideas into actual business plans.

FastForward’s first entrepreneurial offerings include a cancer testing kit, a computerized probe to help ultrasound-guided biopsies, and new technology for detecting single strands of DNA. FastForward’s goals include not only sponsoring cutting-edge tech companies, but making sure they stay in the city — thus bolstering the local economy. “Given the interest we’re already seeing, we’re really on to something here,” said FastForward’s director, John Fini. “It’s already growing very, very fast. And that says something about of Johns Hopkins’ entrepreneurial spirit.”