$10 Million Luminate NY Initiative is the World’s Largest Start-up Accelerator Program for Optics, Photonics and Imaging Technologies

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

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the first 10 companies selected to take part in New York State’s first-ever Luminate NY accelerator competition. The inaugural class of finalists include optics, photonics and imaging start-ups, which were selected after pitching ideas to an advisory panel comprised of industry experts at the Luminate NY Lighting Awards in Rochester on Wednesday, November 8.

“New York is proud to invest in and support the growth of these new advanced technology companies,” Governor Cuomo said. “Our strategic investments have already positioned Rochester as a global leader in the optics, photonics and imaging industries, and through the Luminate NY competition, we will continue to put the spotlight on all that this region has to offer, while attracting 21st century companies to continue moving the Finger Lakes forward.”

“Under the leadership of Governor Cuomo, Rochester is at the vanguard of photonics and imaging once again, building on a rich optics legacy,” said Lieutenant Governor Hochul, who attended the competition. “The Luminate NY competition is evidence of the economic growth taking place. The region is quickly becoming a world hub in this arena due to a rich supply of workforce talent and potential, moving the “Finger Lakes Forward” with great momentum.”

The competition received interest from more than 100 applicants from around the world during this first round, including teams from Canada, Switzerland, Ireland, Germany, Scotland, India, China, Russia, Qatar, Lebanon, Israel and the United States.

The 10 selected finalists include:

In the fields of Photonic Devices, Lasers, Materials and Display:

  • Arovia, Inc. – Houston, TX
  • Lumotune – Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
  • Molecular Glasses, Inc. – Rochester, NY

In the fields of Spectroscopy and Medical Devices:

  • LighTopTech Corp.  Rochester, NY 
  • Intelon Optics, Inc. – Boston, MA

In Augmented and Virtual Reality, Sensors, Instrumentation, Image Recognition: 

  • Bounce Imaging – Boston, MA
  • Double Helix LLC – Boulder, CO
  • Think Biosolution – Dublin, Ireland
  • Positive Science – Rochester, NY
  • Tarsier Optics, Inc. – Baltimore, MD 

Each company will receive an initial investment of $100,000 and will be a part of the initiative’s first cohort, which will launch in January 2018 at the newly renovated Sibley Building in downtown Rochester. The 6-month program will assist these teams with their ideas to accelerate their commercialization. At the end of the program, the teams will compete on Demo Day, where they will vie for over $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 High Tech Rochester.

The Luminate NY initiative will support the selected innovators as they grow their ideas in Rochester with help from industry experts, businesses and local universities. The program aims to assist entrepreneurs who are interested in solving challenging industry problems, including, but not limited to: machine vision, inspection, biophotonics, security, surveillance, augmented and virtual reality, and autonomous vehicles.

Luminate NY is building on the U.S. Department of Defense-led American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics, which is supported by a $250 million commitment from New York State and will be based in Rochester at the state-of-the-art AIM manufacturing facility located in Eastman Business Park. The facility will be used to test, assemble and package chips that use photons in place of electrons for increased performance of semiconductor circuits. First announced by Governor Cuomo and Vice President Joe Biden in July 2015, AIM Photonics will help secure the Finger Lakes region and nation’s leadership position in emerging technology research, development, and manufacturing.

Luminate NY Managing Director Sujatha Ramanujan said, “We are so pleased to be able to work with 10 such promising companies. With the creativity, energy, and capabilities of these start-ups and the guidance and support of the optics industry headquartered in Rochester, NY, we expect great success from the Luminate NY cohort. From innovation comes growth and promise.”

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “Congratulations to the entrepreneurial teams selected to take part in this new competition. The Finger Lakes region is transforming into a world-wide hub for optics, photonics and imaging innovation. The Luminate NY accelerator will further support our efforts to focus entrepreneurial resources on the photonics industry, creating an environment that will enable these start-ups, and the region, to thrive.”

Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chairs, Monroe Community College President Anne Kress and Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bob Duffy said, “Congratulations to these innovative teams on their selection to take part in round one of the groundbreaking Luminate NY accelerator program in Rochester. This unique competition will help the region further establish itself as a global leader in the burgeoning light-based products and services industry, helping to move the Finger Lakes forward for years to come.

State Senator Joe Robach said, “Luminate NY is an exciting opportunity and with these 10 finalists selected, companies understand that Rochester is once again on the forefront of the development of innovative technology that has the potential to revolutionize how we live our lives. The results of this program will create opportunities and grow jobs right here in our community.”

Assembly Majority Leader Joseph D. Morelle said, “Luminate NY offers an incredible opportunity to these exciting start-up companies by equipping them with the critical tools and resources they will need to grow and thrive right here in our community. Furthermore, the 10 finalists selected will be playing a pivotal role in the continued reshaping and resurgence of region’s economy. I thank Governor Cuomo for continuing to invest in the potential of the many hardworking innovators who are helping to build a stronger New York.”

Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo said, “This innovative competition builds on our community’s historic strength in optics and has the potential to attract jobs and investment here now and in the future. I congratulate the Illuminate NY finalists and thank them for helping to light the way towards a future with more jobs and a stronger economy right here in Monroe County.”

Mayor Lovely A. Warren said, “I am thrilled that so many companies are interested in bringing high tech jobs and opportunity. The Luminate NY project is a natural fit for Rochester and builds on our tradition of being a worldwide leader in optics, photonics and imaging. These ten finalists are best positioned to lead our local economy into the next generation thanks to Governor Cuomo and the State’s continued investments in our city.”

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 $5.2 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.

To view the press release on the Governor’s website, click here.

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