Empire State Development Announces 101 Companies from Around the World Apply for Round III of the Luminate NY Accelerator

October 22, 2019

Luminate NY is the World's Largest Startup Accelerator for Optics, Photonics and Imaging Technologies

State Investment Complements “Finger Lakes Forward” – The Region’s Comprehensive Strategy to Revitalize Communities and Grow the Economy

Empire State Development (ESD) today announced that Luminate NY—the world's largest business accelerator for startups that have optics, photonics and imaging (OPI) enabled applications—received 101 applications to compete for a spot in Round III of the competition. 50 percent of this years’ applicants reside in countries outside of the United States, validating that Luminate NY is becoming a recognized global accelerator program. Last year, 33 percent of the startups that applied for the competition were from outside the U.S. The significant increase in international applicants demonstrates a growing desire to tap the rich OPI ecosystem that exists in the Finger Lakes region, which has long been recognized as the imaging capital of the world. 

“Luminate NY brings emerging startups to the world’s imaging capital, with all of the Finger Lakes region’s OPI and manufacturing resources, where they can develop and more quickly commercialize their cutting-edge ideas,” said Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-Designate Eric Gertler.

For Round III, applications came from 25 different countries, including:  India, Canada, Australia, Israel, Russia, Singapore, and Spain.  Fifteen companies from New York State applied, with the remaining coming from U.S. cities including Austin, Berkeley, Boston, Los Angeles and Orlando.  Funding for the $25 million accelerator is provided through the Finger Lakes Forward Upstate Revitalization Initiative and is administered by NextCorps.

“Advancements in optics, photonics and imaging technologies are transforming just about every industry today,” said Dr. Sujatha Ramanjuan, Managing Director of Luminate NY. “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.”

This month the accelerator’s management team and global advisory board will select up to 25 semi-finalists from the pool of applicants. These companies will then travel to Rochester to pitch their startups during Luminate NY’s Lightning Rounds on Nov. 7 at the Strong National Museum of Play. Ten startups will be admitted to the six-month program, which begins in January 2020 in Rochester.

The accelerator provides significant support to startups—including an initial $100,000 investment, expert mentorship, access to investors, lab facilities, and education—to guide startups through actionable business planning that’s focused on commercializing technologies and scaling their businesses.  Upon graduation in June 2020, the companies will compete for a total of $2 million in follow-on funding.

State Senator Joseph Robach said, “This is very exciting news regarding Luminate NY.  Any time we can grow jobs through technology is a win for our region.  It is important that New York State continues to do everything in its power to keep the Upstate economy vibrant by promoting economic growth and community development.”

State Assembly Member Harry Bronson said, “I am pleased to see the announcement 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 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. Luminate NY gives business leaders a platform to bring their innovative ideas to the marketplace, which accelerates the growth of Rochester's knowledge economy. Thanks to Governor Cuomo and Empire State Development we are bringing 21st century job creators to Rochester through Finger Lakes Forward and that helps 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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Shari Voorhees-Vincent | [email protected] | (585) 399-7055
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