Empire State Development Announces Deadline is Approaching for Optics, Photonics and Imaging Startups to Apply for Round III of the Luminate NY Competition

September 4, 2019

Applications to Participate in $2 Million OPI Business Accelerator in Downtown Rochester are Due by September 23

NYS Investment in Innovative OPI Competition Complements "Finger Lakes Forward"—The Region's Comprehensive Strategy to Revitalize Communities and Grow the Economy

Empire State Development (ESD) today issued a reminder that the deadline to apply to take part in Round III of  Luminate NY— the world's largest business accelerator for startup firms with optics, photonics and imaging (OPI) enabled technologies —is quickly approaching. Applications must be submitted to compete for a spot in Round III by 11:59 PM Sept. 23, 2019. Luminate NY provides significant support to startups, including an initial $100,000 convertible note, expert mentorship, access to investors, lab facilities, curriculum. Upon graduation from the program in June 2020, the companies will compete for a total of $2 million in follow-on funding provided through the Finger Lakes Forward Upstate Revitalization Initiative. Startups accepted into Round III will receive immediate investment and will be admitted to the six-month accelerator program in Rochester beginning in Jan. 2020.

Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-Designate Eric Gertler said, “Luminate NY puts emerging startups in the center of the imaging capital of the world, helping them to leverage all of the Finger Lakes Region’s vast OPI and manufacturing resources. The competition will enable these innovative entrepreneurs to bring their novel ideas to market faster, further advancing our Finger Lakes Forward vision.”

Startups applying to Luminate NY, which is administered by NextCorps, must be incorporated, have at least two people working full-time on the business, and should have proven their core technology, preferably having developed a working prototype. NextCorps will select a total of 10 companies from the applicant pool for Round III.

Dr. Sujatha Ramanujan, Managing Director, Luminate NY said, “Optics, photonics and imaging are key components of the technologies that are transforming almost every industry today. By giving OPI startups a platform for both business and technical development, we’re helping to advance the mission of these businesses, as well as the industries they serve.”

The rigorous accelerator program provides customized curriculum to guide startups through actionable business planning that is focused on commercializing and scaling their businesses. Members also benefit from working alongside peer OPI startups in the program, leveraging best practices and helping each other toward success.

Double Helix Optics was the $1 million winner of Luminate NY’s inaugural competition and Ovitz was the $1 million winner of Round II. Technologies from Cohort II include several industry firsts: individualized, vision-enhancing contact lens technology; the world's first parallax-free 360-degree camera; a seamless solution for cardiac monitoring using smart devices, artificial skin for robots that provides touch-sensitivity and feedback on limb positioning; and a diagnostic imaging solution for vision that reduces the costs of OCT units by 4 times.

Senator Joseph Robach said, “We recently completed another Luminate NY competition, which has greatly added to our region’s growing reputation as a leader in optics, imagining and advanced technology. I encourage all emerging tech businesses and startups to look at the success of past Luminate NY competitors and apply to participate in this exciting program to help hone their craft and grow their business and ideas.”

Assembly Member Harry Bronson said, “I encourage the many talented entrepreneurs in our region to apply for this next round of   Luminate New York Optics funding. This innovative program provides the funding for the entrepreneurial spirit that is needed for the future creative projects that will provide the future of job and economic growth for our state and nation. I know that this next round of funding will provide for great ideas that will help build a brighter future for our families.”

Rochester Mayor Lovely A. Warren said, "Luminate NY's ability to repeatedly attract high-quality applications from around the world demonstrates the wisdom of Governor Cuomo's decision to locate this high-tech business accelerator in Rochester and build on our reputation as an up-and-coming research and development hub, and I encourage tech startups to apply to build upon this success. Luminate NY gives business leaders a platform to bring their innovative ideas to the marketplace, which accelerates the growth of Rochester's knowledge economy. I remain grateful to Governor Cuomo and Empire State Development for bringing these 21st century job creators to Rochester through Finger Lakes Forward and helping us achieve our goals of creating more jobs, safer, more vibrant neighborhoods and better educational opportunities for our citizens."

For more information about Luminate NY, click here.

Accelerating Finger Lakes Forward 

Today’s announcement complements “Finger Lakes Forward,” the region’s comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The State has already invested more than $6.1 billion in the region since 2012 to lay the groundwork for the plan – investing in key industries including photonics, agriculture‎ and food production, and advanced manufacturing. Today, unemployment is down to the lowest levels since before the Great Recession; personal and corporate income taxes are down; and businesses are choosing places like Rochester, Batavia and Canandaigua as a destination to grow and invest in.

Now, the region is accelerating Finger Lakes Forward with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, announced by Governor Cuomo in December 2015. The State’s $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion – and the region’s plan, as submitted, projects up to 8,200 new jobs. More information is available here.

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