Cohort 4 Announcement Coming Soon!


Last week, 27 semi-finalists pitched virtually to our advisory board members for a place in cohort 4. Startup teams from around the world shared their innovations in augmented/virtual reality, medical devices and imaging, displays and light sources, precision manufacturing and measurement, materials science, spectroscopy, and sensors. They fielded questions about their tech, team, business models, and what they hoped to accomplish as part of Luminate. 

Our advisory board now faces the tough task of selecting 10 finalists from this impressive group. Who will make the cut? Stay tuned! We’ll be unveiling cohort 4 soon.

Not a subscriber yet? Sign up for updates, including program announcements and monthly editions of The Lens.

From Our Advisory Board

Don Golini, Chairman of the Luminate Advisory Board and Founder of SANICA Ventures, shares his words of wisdom for startups in 2021:

Don Golini“Doing a startup in any environment is really hard, and a pandemic can be devastating despite an entrepreneur’s best efforts. Having said that, many entrepreneurs operating in the ’new normal’ continue to find a path forward. In some cases, potential customers have more time on their hands and make themselves available for more robust customer discovery and exploration of new technologies.

The fundamentals still apply as the key criteria for a successful startup: strong team, compelling value proposition, competitive advantage, and sufficiently large market opportunity.”

Don’s go-to business books:

“My favorites are Moore’s Crossing the Chasm and Christensen’s The Innovator’s Dilemma

I also learned a lot from Thull’s Mastering the Complex Sale, and Lencioni’s The Five Dysfunctions of a Team nails the common ‘people’ challenges.”


Exciting news from Arovia. Meet Splay! Watch a video on the next evolution of the all-in-one portable display below, launching this year. Or get all the details here.

Way to go, Bounce Imaging! This cohort 1 startup was featured in Forbes for its throwable 360-degree camera that’s helping protect first responders and special operations personnel.

Organic Robotics Corporation Light LaceCongratulations to Organic Robotics Corporation! They took home $50,000 as the winner of the NFL’s 1st and Future pitch competition in the Innovations category. This Luminate cohort 2 startup’s Light Lace™ wearable tech is designed to use light to measure muscle fatigue and respiration. Their win scored them extra media coverage, including an interview with SportTechie.

Look out for SunDensity. Our $1M winner of cohort 3 was named an energy startup to watch in 2021 by Daniel Goldman, Clean Energy Ventures’ co-founder and managing director. Goldman said of SunDensity’s photonic smart coatings for utility solar power producers:

The thing we really love about this company is that it’s a very simple approach to radically increasing efficiency. Going from 20% efficiency to like 23-to-25%, people are looking for a quarter- to half-point increase in efficiency to drive costs down… [Such an improvement would be a] game-changer in disrupting that space.”

Read the full interview in pv magazine USA.


Mergers & Acquisitions with Jay Kumler

President of global technology group Jenoptik Optical Systems and Luminate advisory board member, Jay Kumler, speaks with our Managing Director, Dr. Sujatha Ramanujan, about his transition from a startup founder to doing business internationally as part of a publicly traded company. Watch the video interview to get Jay’s insights from both the buy- and sell-sides of M&A, or listen on Spotify or iTunes.

Sujatha Ramanujan on LDV Capital Presents: Women Leading Visual Tech

LDV Capital’s Women Leading Visual Tech series showcases the leading women whose work in visual tech is reshaping business and society. Abigail Hunter-Syed spoke with Luminate’s Managing Director, Dr. Sujatha Ramanujan, about managing a crisis, fear of boredom, and a mission to revitalize the Rochester area.

Every invention is limited by the question you ask. Your invention starts with a question.”

Read the shortened text version of the interview here. (Full video interview available at the bottom of the article.)


Leverage Your Connections, and Other Sales Tips from Our Director of Operations

Andy SimonIf you’ve ever applied or reached out to Luminate, you know Andy Simon. But did you know that he led two Swedish music software companies, founded a dog toy startup, and wrote a #1 hit for a Japanese boy band? He’s helped multiple international brands expand to the U.S. and driven record sales. (And he’s crazy enough to enjoy skiing faster than 50 mph.) More about Andy Simon.


Neurescence, a Luminate cohort 2 startup, is emphasizing product features in a clever way. Take a look at comic strips from a recent newsletter. 

Neurescence comic strip mice Neurescence comic strip brain

Have you seen creativity from an optics, photonics, or imaging startup that deserves a shoutout? Let us know!

See You Next Month!