Innovative Competition Aims to Bring Visionary Optics, Photonics and Imaging Companies and Latest Industry Technologies to the Finger Lakes Region

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

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the world’s largest business accelerator for startup firms in the optics, photonics and imaging industries, Luminate NY, is now accepting applications for Round II of the innovative competition. The Luminate NY accelerator, located in Rochester, helps promising optics and photonics companies advance their technologies and businesses through a community of resources, including financial support. Funding for the $10 million Luminate NY program is being provided through the transformative Finger Lakes Forward Upstate Revitalization Initiative.

“The Luminate NY accelerator extends the region’s reputation as an imaging and optics epicenter and complements New York’s strategic investments in photonics and advanced manufacturing to support commercialization capabilities,” Governor Cuomo said. “These investments are fostering new business growth, enhancing the region’s talent, job opportunities and economy as we continue to move the Finger Lakes forward.”

The recruitment for new OPI enabled technologies comes just days before Luminate’s first cohort of companies competes for $2 million in follow-on funding. The free Light Tomorrow with Today Demo Day event will be held on June 28, 2018 at the Big Tent at the Rochester International Jazz Festival. One company will be awarded $1 million, with three other companies splitting the additional $1 million.

“Luminate NY is helping companies and advancing technologies in the Finger Lakes region,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “Round 2 of the competition will continue to support businesses and grow the high-tech industry, creating jobs and boosting the economy in the area. Our investments in innovative photonics companies are continuing to move the Finger Lakes Forward.”

The Luminate NY initiative—which is administered by NextCorps— is looking for entrepreneurs from around the globe who are interested in solving challenges in optics, photonics and imaging, including but not limited to: machine vision, inspection, biophotonics, security, surveillance, augmented and virtual reality, and autonomous vehicles. Teams will be competing for one of ten available slots in the second cohort, guaranteeing them a minimum investment of $100,000 and major investments of up to $1 million.

Dr. Sujatha Ramanujan, Managing Director, Luminate NY said, “Luminate NY gives entrepreneurs unparalleled support, such as access to a global network of OPI leaders, mentors who are matched to their particular business needs, and structured curriculum that allows for the time to transfer knowledge into actionable business plans.”

Applicants for Luminate NY must be incorporated, have a full-time team and should have proven their core technology, preferably having developed a working prototype. Once admitted, companies will receive assistance with capital, technology development and business mentoring. Each member will receive a $100,000 initial convertible note investment, with a chance for follow-on funding at the end of the rigorous six-month entrepreneurship training program. Applications will be accepted through September 24 on a rolling acceptance basis. For more information on Luminate NY, go to www.luminate.org.

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “With Round II of Luminate NY, we’ll continue to attract companies from around the world to New York State to invigorate and grow the optics, photonics and imaging industry in the Finger Lakes region, adding to the more than 100 companies who were drawn to this unique, economy-boosting business accelerator competition in Round I.”

Luminate NY is building on the region’s historically strong OPI sector, including the new 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.

State Senator Joseph Robach said, “Luminate NY is an exciting opportunity and as we enter Round II, with applicants from across the world, growing companies and entrepreneurs 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 Luminate NY will create opportunity and grow jobs right here in our community.”

Assembly Majority Leader Joseph D. Morelle said, “Luminate New York is investing in the limitless potential and promise of high-tech entrepreneurs who will further strengthen and propel our region’s growing economy.  Most importantly, these investments will yield the continued creation of secure, good paying jobs in every corner of our community.”

Mayor Lovely A. Warren said, “The incredible progress underway at Luminate NY clearly demonstrates the wisdom of Governor Cuomo’s decision to locate this business incubator in Rochester and help position our region as the photonics and optics capital of the world. 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 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.”

About Finger Lakes Forward

Under the Finger Lakes Forward initiative, the State is 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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