Cohort 7 Could Be Your Lucky Break


The year may be winding down, but we’re gearing up for our next cohort. And while we’ve been lucky to meet and work with every founder and team within the Luminate portfolio — more than 60 companies now! — there’s just something auspicious about the round we’re coming up on. If you have a startup with a solution that’s enabled by optics, photonics, or imaging, apply to be part of cohort 7! Applications are due January 8, 2024. 

Not sure how Luminate can help your company or if you’re a fit? Ask a graduate! Our next info session on December 6 features four founders who were part of cohort 6, including our $1M follow-on funding recipient, Oculi. Sign up soon!

Luminate graduate panel

Or speak with Luminate’s Director of Technology Integration, Dr. Damon Diehl. He’s hosting this year’s final info session and will share tips for a strong application on Thursday, January 4, 2024.

15 Luminate Companies to Attend Photonics West

Are you headed to SPIE Photonics West 2024? Stop by booth 260 (located in the NY Corridor) to meet with members of the Luminate team and connect with companies in our portfolio. 

Tabling with us at Photonics West:

Portfolio Wins

Two Luminate portfolio companies are 2024 SPIE Prism Award finalists! Congratulations to Qunnect and PlanOpSim, finalists in the Quantum Tech and Software categories respectively. We’ll be rooting for you on January 30 at Photonics West!

Owl Autonomous Imaging was featured in a Forbes article on the tragic rise of pedestrian deaths and reforms needed to address the problem. Thermal imaging is one important part of the solution, and Owl’s Thermal Ranger sensor system produces especially high-resolution images at a lower cost compared to other thermal imaging companies.

Intelon Optics was one of eight companies honored with an Eddie Award (formerly New England Innovation Award) earlier this month, winning the Medical Devices category. The Massachusetts Innovation Network’s award ceremony was the culmination of an 8-month innovation-fueling program with nearly 100 startup teams.

PreAct Technologies’ Mojave flash LiDAR sensor is now available through Arrow Electronics, a global provider of technology products, services, and solutions. Congratulations on the new partnership, PreAct!

Case Study: Circle Optics Realizes Faster Market Traction with Luminate

Creating and building a startup around a novel idea can be complicated, expensive, and nearly impossible to do single-handedly. When Circle Optics founder and CEO Zak Niazi came up with the idea for his technology, he didn’t realize at the time how important an ecosystem would be to his startup’s progress.

“In college, I was fascinated by how Google was mapping the planet with cameras on cars, and I wondered why people couldn’t do something similar by wearing a headset and streaming images of places they were exploring,” said Niazi. “I quickly found that the roadblock to this opportunity was stitching.”

Circle Optics HydraThis discovery led Niazi to create what may be the holy grail in the virtual reality (VR) sector—a one-click, 360-degree camera that produces clear, crisp images that don’t need stitching. “Circle Optics’ first product, Hydra, is a fundamental revolution in the way people design cameras,” said Niazi.

With his innovation prototype in hand, Niazi was set to roll the Hydra out to the film industry. But he needed investment dollars to scale both the technology and the business. Instead of bootstrapping or going the standard VC investment route, he applied to Luminate, a competitive accelerator and investment mechanism designed specifically for startups working on technologies that are enabled by optics, photonics, and imaging. The strategy paid off. Not only did Circle Optics earn a spot among the 10 companies in Luminate’s second cohort, the support and mentorship changed the focus and the trajectory of the company.

Read the full case study in Electro Optics.

See You Next Month!