Empire State Development Announces Official Launch for Round Two of Luminate NY Accelerator Competition in Downtown Rochester

$10 Million Initiative is the World's Largest Startup Accelerator Program for Optics, Photonics and Imaging Technologies

January 7, 2019

OPI Innovation is a Key Part of “Finger Lakes Forward” – the Region’s Comprehensive Strategy to Revitalize Communities and Grow the Economy

Empire State Development (ESD) today officially welcomed the 10 companies selected to take part in the second cohort of the Luminate NY accelerator competition at the Sibley Building located in Rochester’s Downtown Innovation Zone.  Luminate NY is the world’s largest accelerator for startups focused on optics, photonics and imaging. The chosen companies are working to bring industry-changing technologies to life that have the potential for solving existing challenges for businesses and for society. The startups were selected after pitching their innovative ideas to an advisory panel comprised of industry experts at the Luminate NY Lighting Awards, held at the George Eastman House in November 2018. 

The companies and technologies now under development at the Rochester-based accelerator include:

  • Augmentiqs is transforming microscopes into smart, connected devices that can deliver augmented reality experiences to pathologists to enhance medical research and discovery
  • Circle Optics has developed the world’s first parallax-free 360-degree camera to solve the problem of stitching
  • Kura Tech is building revolutionary augmented reality glasses with a customized optical and display system
  • Lumedica Vision is creating affordable light-based scientific and medical instruments that deliver more accurate diagnostic results
  • Mango TeQ LTD is transforming helmets into smart devices so that motorcyclists can keep their eyes on the road and we can decrease the growing number of cycle fatalities
  • Neurescence is providing the first-ever way of capturing images of the Central Nervous Systemto aid in brain surgery and in the creation of treatments for neurological disorders
  • Opalux is embedding a person's portrait and data into a color-shifting generic hologram to eliminate counterfeit identities
  • Organic Robotics Corporation is enhancing virtual reality by providing technology that allows realistic tactile interactions with virtual objects
  • Ovitz is creating a custom contact lens that significantly enhances vision quality for patients
  • VPG Medical, Inc. is developing CardioGuard, a platform technology that leverages cameras embedded in smart devices to monitor the cardiac activities of their users

Each company is receiving an initial investment of $100,000 and will work with industry experts, businesses and universities in the accelerator for six months to speed the commercialization of their innovations. The companies will then compete on Demo Day in late June for $2 million in follow-on funding. Funding for the $10 million program is being provided through the Finger Lakes Forward Upstate Revitalization Initiative award and is being administered by Nextcorps..

 Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, "The Luminate NY accelerator’s second cohort of companies will continue the transformation of the Finger Lakes as a global hub for optics, photonics and imaging innovation by giving forward-thinking startups the resources and entrepreneurial environment they need to thrive."

Luminate NY Managing Director Sujatha Ramanujan said, “These companies have the potential to bring new capabilities to a variety of industries and to impact our lives in ways we never imagined. In providing focused mentorship and instruction, we can help to ensure these technologies are commercialized to positively impact industry, our region and our world.”

Luminate NY builds on the region’s strong history and established supply chain in the optics, photonics and imaging industry, and compliments the New York State investment of $250 million used to establish the AIM Photonics TAP facility. First announced by Governor Cuomo and Vice President Joe Biden in July 2015 , the innovative research and packaging facility is located at ON Semiconductor at Eastman Business Park in Rochester.

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 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. ​


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