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Empire State Development Announces 10 Finalists Selected for Round Six of Luminate NY

Competition Continues to Bring the Best Startups with Optics, Photonics, and Imaging Technologies to the Finger Lakes, Assisting Innovators With Tapping Into the Region’s  World Class OPI Ecosystem

Luminate NY is Supported by “Finger Lakes Forward” – The Region’s Comprehensive Strategy to Revitalize Communities and Grow the Economy

Empire State Development (ESD) today announced the 10 companies selected to take part in round six of the Luminate NY accelerator program, investment fund, and competition. A total of 120 applications were received for consideration to participate in the world’s largest accelerator for startups working on industry-first solutions that are enabled by optics, photonics, and imaging (OPI). One third of the applications came from countries outside of the U.S. with the remaining two-thirds from U.S. states. Round six kicks-off an additional four-year commitment by New York State to continue the successful, globally renowned Luminate NY program.

Empire State Development President, CEO, and Commissioner, Hope Knight said, “Congratulations to the 10 entrepreneurial companies selected to take part in Luminate NY’s sixth cohort. The cutting-edge ideas from these optics, photonics and imaging startups will help to drive innovation, creating opportunities in the Finger Lakes Region and throughout New York State.”

The companies were selected after pitching their innovative ideas and being scored by an advisory panel comprised of industry experts. Each finalist will receive an initial investment of $100,000 and will have the chance to compete for up to $2 million in follow-on funding upon completion of the accelerator program. The cohort will begin on April 17, 2023. The six-month program will help the companies speed the commercialization of their technologies and businesses. Funding for the $45 million program, which was created and is run by NextCorps, is provided through the Finger Lakes Forward Upstate Revitalization Initiative—the region’s comprehensive strategy to revitalize communities and foster economic growth.

Luminate NY supports innovators as they further develop their technologies with help from industry experts, local universities, and the vast OPI resources that are offered by businesses throughout the Finger Lakes Region. Cohort 6 is solving challenges within a number of industries, including, but not limited to: agtech, augmented/virtual reality, communications, healthcare, material science, unmanned vehicles, and quantum.

The 10 selected startups and their solutions include:

  • AquaRealTime is protecting waterways with a scalable, early warning and monitoring system that detects harmful algae blooms and water contaminants
  • Digiteyez is providing eyecare on demand with 24/7 access to fast, accurate eye testing, regular vision checks, and connections with eye doctors—from any digital device
  • NanoPattern Technologies, Inc. is commercializing a patented chemistry and ink that enables display manufacturers to make high-resolution screens that are more sustainable for smartphones, wearables, and AR/VR applications
  • Norcon is creating advanced optical polymer and lensing technology for making 3D depth imagers faster, more accurate, and less expensive
  • Oculi is making computer vision faster and more efficient by embedding intelligence in the sensor, starting at the pixel—the true edge
  • Photonect Interconnect Solutions is developing a laser adhesion technique to attach optical fibers to photonic chips that is 10X faster, less expensive, and more efficient than conventional glue methods
  • PlanOpSim is helping R&D teams solve complicated design and integration problems by providing a single workflow design software for planar and meta-optics
  • QART Medical is providing novel information to clinicians selecting sperm cells to use in IVF procedures, allowing evidence-based decisions centered on empirical data
  • Quantune is bringing the first chip-sized laser spectrometer for the mid-infrared spectral range—the "molecular fingerprint region"—to market to allow continuous, non-invasive monitoring of molecular biomarkers such as glucose on the wrist (with lab-grade quality)
  • Swave Photonics is addressing current AR/VR limitations by developing the world’s first spatial light modulator for true digital holography

Under a recently formed partnership with Silicon Catalyst (SI)—the world’s only

incubator focused on accelerating semiconductor solutions—Oculi and Swave will participate in Luminate’s and SI’s programming concurrently. Two additional companies, Archangel Imaging and Labby, will take part in Luminate out of the finalist structure to gain access to regional resources. Archangel, the 2022 Grand Prize winner of the Genius NY competition, deploys smart machines alongside people to protect valuable remote assets and at-risk staff. Labby, a $250,000 winner at the 2022 Grow NY competition, provides dairy farms with rapid, accurate, and affordable solutions that leverage AI-enabled optical sensing for raw milk testing in less than a minute.

Luminate NY Managing Director Sujatha Ramanujan said, “Each year, the diversity and quality of companies applying to Luminate continues to improve, demonstrating that the need for this type of programming and financial support transcends technology type and industry category. With the integration of optics, photonics, and imaging into so many applications, Luminate NY is able to help founders in a variety of industries strengthen their businesses and commercialization trajectories.”

Since its inception, Luminate has invested $15 million in 53 startups. The companies in the portfolio have raised an additional $194.7 million and now share a net worth of $645.7 million. Many of the companies are establishing U.S. operations or some aspect of research and manufacturing in the Rochester region—which continues to be the epicenter of the OPI industry in North America. This has resulted in the creation of 160 new jobs in the region.

State Senator Jeremy Cooney said, “Congratulations to the 10 innovators joining the sixth cohort of Luminate New York. Rochester is continuing its legacy as a home to innovation by hosting entrepreneurs developing technologies with the potential to make a global impact on some of the most pressing challenges of our time. Thank you Nextcorps for hosting this program in the heart of downtown, and to Empire State Development & Finger Lakes Forward for their continued support and investment in developers in Rochester and across New York.”

Assembly Member Harry Bronson said, “Congratulations to the 10 teams selected to take part in round six of Luminate NY! I know that these teams and their entrepreneurial spirit will create projects that will provide the future of job and economic growth for our state and nation. As Chair of the Economic Development Committee, I know these award winners will build a brighter future for our families.”

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello said, “Congratulations to all of the companies advancing in this round of the Luminate NY accelerator program, which continues to advance Monroe County’s next generation optics, photonics, and imaging industries. We are grateful to Governor Hochul and Empire State Development for continuing investments that help cement our community’s reputation as a leader in the OPI sector and provide economic opportunity for our residents.”

City of Rochester Mayor Malik Evans said, “I want to congratulate all the sixth-round finalists in the Luminate NY accelerator competition and wish them good luck in this next, exciting phase of their development as Rochester job creators. These companies are already winners in this unique program to support and encourage innovation in optics, photonics, and imaging around the world. I remain grateful to Governor Kathy Hochul and Empire State Development for bringing these 21st century innovators to Rochester through Finger Lakes Forward and helping us create a safe, equitable and prosperous Rochester.”

Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chairs, Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bob Duffy and SUNY Geneseo President Denise Battles said, “We would like to offer our congratulations to the innovative teams selected to take part in the sixth round of the groundbreaking Luminate NY accelerator program. These forward-thinking entrepreneurs are helping to further bolster the optics, photonics, and imaging industry throughout the region. We can’t wait to learn all about their next-generation ideas.”

For additional information about the Luminate NY accelerator, click here.

Accelerating Finger Lakes Forward 

Today’s announcement complements “Finger Lakes Forward,” the region’s comprehensive strategy to generate robust economic growth and community development. The regionally designed plan focuses on investing in key industries including photonics, agriculture‎ and food production, and advanced manufacturing. More information is available here.

About Empire State Development

Empire State Development (ESD) is New York’s chief economic development agency (www.esd.ny.gov). The mission of ESD is to promote a vigorous and growing economy, encourage the creation of new job and economic opportunities, increase revenues to the State and its municipalities, and achieve stable and diversified local economies. Through the use of loans, grants, tax credits and other forms of financial assistance, ESD strives to enhance private business investment and growth to spur job creation and support prosperous communities across New York State. ESD is also the primary administrative agency overseeing the Regional Economic Development Councils and the marketing of “I LOVE NEW YORK,” the State’s iconic tourism brand. For more information on Regional Councils and Empire State Development, visit www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov and www.esd.ny.gov.


Shari Voorhees-Vincent | [email protected] | (585) 399-7055

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