Empire State Development Announces 70 Innovative Companies from Around the World Apply for Round Two of Luminate NY Competition in Rochester

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

Finger Lakes Forward Investment Advances the Region’s Successful Strategic Plan to Grow the Economy and Create New Opportunities

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 70 applications to compete for a spot in cohort II of the innovative program. With 30 percent of the applicants residing in countries outside of the United States, it’s clear that Luminate NY and the region is attracting global attention and building on its OPI heritage and reputation.

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said,“Luminate NY’s second round reaffirms Rochester as the global leader in the photonics industry, supporting promising next-gen OPI companies that will help to drive innovation and regional economic growth.”

Companies submitting applications come from Sweden, India, Canada, Australia, Russia, Israel, Portugal, China, Netherlands and New Zealand. Sixteen companies from New York State applied, with the remaining coming from U.S. cities including, Boston, San Francisco, Orlando, San Jose, Indianapolis, New Orleans, Fort Collins, Santa Clara, St. Louis, Durham, Columbus, Chicago, Providence, and Philadelphia. Funding for the $10 million accelerator is being provided through the Finger Lakes Forward Upstate Revitalization Initiative and is being administered by NextCorps.

The quality of the applicants for cohort II is very impressive and will surely result in a highly competitive Lightning Award event,” said Dr. Sujatha Ramanujan, Managing Director of Luminate NY. “We encourage people interested in what the program will bring to our region to attend this event.”

In October, the program’s management team and global advisory board will select 20 semi-finalists from the pool of applicants. Semi-finalists will then travel to Rochester to pitch their startups during Luminate NY’s Lightning Rounds, held on November 13th and 14th. Ten startups will then receive Lightning Awards during a ceremony at the Dryden Theatre at the George Eastman Museum. The winning startups will become a participant in Cohort II of Luminate NY, and will receive an initial investment of $100,000.

Luminate NY’s cohort II will begin January 2019 at the newly renovated Sibley Building in Downtown Rochester.  The six-month program will help accelerate the commercialization of the most promising optics, photonics and imaging applications, using a rich ecosystem which includes the University of Rochester’s Institute of Optics, the Rochester Institute of Technology, AIM Photonics, and more than 100 area OPI companies. In June, the teams will compete for $2 million in follow-on funding.

Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chairs Monroe Community College President Anne Kress and Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce President Bob Duffy said, “The council remains laser focused on supporting the growth of optics, photonics and imaging industries in the region. Cohort two of the innovative Luminate NY accelerator program will continue to support the high-growth potential of OPI start-ups and continue to move Finger Lakes Forward.”

In addition to funding and support, startups participating in Luminate NY receive industry attention.  In September, two companies from Luminate NY’s first cohort won GREAT Awards (Greater Rochester Excellence and Achievements in Technology). Intelon Optics won this year’s Emerging Tech Company, while Positive Science won in the “Tech for Good” category.

Luminate NY builds on the federal Department of Defense led American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics, which is supported by a $250 million commitment from New York State. The state-of-the-art manufacturing facility is located in Rochester at the Eastman Business Park, and 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 the nation’s leadership in emerging technology research, development, and manufacturing.

Assembly Majority Leader Joseph D. Morelle said, “Luminate New York continues to invest in the limitless potential and promise of OPI entrepreneurs who will further strengthen and propel our region’s growing economy.  These investments will yield the continued creation of secure, good paying jobs in every corner of our region, will further strengthen families, and place our community on more stable economic footing.”

 Senator Joe Robach said, “Luminate NY is an exciting opportunity and with 70 applicants from across the world for Round Two, companies continue to understand that Rochester is on the forefront of the development of innovative technology in the fields of optics, photonics and imaging, with 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 while developing the next generation of innovation.”

 Mayor Lovely Warren said, “Luminate NY’s ability to attract 70 high-quality applications from around the world for its second round of competition demonstrates the wisdom of Governor Cuomo’s decision to locate this high-tech 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 21st century 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.”

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.