Empire State Development Announces 10 Startups Selected to Take Part in Cohort II of Luminate NY

$10 Million Luminate NY Initiative is the World’s Largest Startup 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

November 14, 2018–Empire State Development (ESD) today announced the 10 companies selected to take part in the second cohort of New York State’s Luminate NY accelerator program in Rochester. The finalists selected include optics, photonics and imaging startups who were selected after pitching their innovative ideas to an advisory panel comprised of industry experts at the Luminate NY Lightning Awards at the Dryden Theatre at the George Eastman House. Each company will receive an initial investment of $100,000 and will be a part of the initiative’s second cohort, which will launch in January 2019 at the newly renovated Sibley Building in downtown Rochester. The 6-month program will assist the selected companies with their ideas to accelerate their commercialization. The teams will then compete on Demo Day, where they will vie for $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 Nextcorps.

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “Congratulations to the finalists who are part of Luminate NY’s second cohort and who will continue to drive entrepreneurship in the photonics industry, with ideas that will benefit the Finger Lakes region and all of New York State.”

The Luminate NY initiative supports 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.

The 10 selected startups include:

  • Augmentiqs-  Misgav, Israel
  • Circle Optics- New York, NY
  • Kura Tech- San Francisco, CA
  • Lumedica Vision- Durham, NC
  • Mango teQ LTD- Auckland, New Zealand
  • Neurescence- Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Opalux- Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • The Organic Robotics Lab- Syracuse, NY
  • Ovitz- Rochester, NY
  • VPG Medical, Inc.- Rochester, NY

The competition received interest from more than 70 applicants from around the world including companies in 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.

Luminate NY Managing Director Sujatha Ramanujan said, “The OPI market is worth $500 billion today, with analysts projecting significant growth in the coming years. With our resource-rich OPI ecosystem, the Finger Lakes region has the opportunity to become a major contributor to this growth. We’re already seeing the interest in what Luminate NY and our region has to offer, with 30% of our applicants coming from   around the world and 48 percent from U.S. states other than New York.”

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 is based in Rochester at the state-of-the-art AIM manufacturing facility located in On Semiconductor at 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.

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 the second cohort 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 startups selected for the second cohort, 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 member Harry Bronson said, “Congratulations to today’s winners of the second Luminate New York Lightning Awards. Today’s winners and their entrepreneurial spirit will create projects that will provide the future of job and economic growth for our state and nation. I know that this award will help build a brighter future for our families.”

Mayor Lovely A. Warren said, “I want to congratulate this round of Luminate NY startups and wish them luck in this next, exciting phase of their development as Rochester job creators. These companies are already winners in this unique program to support and encourage innovation in optics, photonics and imaging around the world. I remain grateful to Governor Cuomo and Empire State Development for bringing these 21st century innovators 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 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 $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.