Empire State Development Announces Application Window is Now Open for Luminate NY Accelerator and Business Competition


Via GlobeNewswire

Startups From Around the World Are Encouraged to Apply for Round Seven if Their Technology Leverages Optics, Photonics, or Imaging

OPI Accelerator Competition is Supported Through “Finger Lakes Forward” – The Region’s Comprehensive Strategy to Revitalize Communities and Grow the Economy

ROCHESTER, N.Y., Sept. 14, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Empire State Development (ESD) today announced that Luminate NY—the world’s largest business accelerator for startup companies that have optics, photonics, and imaging (OPI) enabled technologies—is now accepting applications for its seventh cohort. Each year, the accelerator brings ten visionary companies to the Finger Lakes Region to leverage a rich ecosystem of resources to speed the commercialization of emerging technologies within a range of industries, such as autonomous vehicles, quantum computing, communications, advanced manufacturing, robotics, and augmented reality.

“The 64 companies currently in Luminate NY’s portfolio are speeding the commercialization of industry-changing technologies and businesses by leveraging the rich resources that help make New York State the OPI capital of the world,” said Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight. “We encourage startups to join this diverse group of fast-growing companies—now valued at more than $650 million—by applying to the Luminate accelerator to take advantage of all that New York has to offer.”

The companies selected to take part in round seven of Luminate NY will compete for one of 10 available slots and will each receive $100,000 upon acceptance. At the completion of the program, the teams will compete for a total of $2 million in follow-on funding, including a $1 million investment to the winning team and other investments totaling an additional $1 million. Teams winning follow-on funding must commit to doing some aspect of their business operations or manufacturing in the region for at least 18 months.

Applicants for Luminate NY must be incorporated, have at least two full-time employees, and should have proven their core technology, preferably having developed a working prototype. Once admitted, companies will receive assistance, including capital, access to comprehensive lab facilities for technology development, education, and business mentoring. Applications will be accepted now through January 8, 2024.

Dr. Sujatha Ramanujan, Managing Director, Luminate NY said, “Luminate is proven to accelerate the trajectory of early-stage companies by providing founders with the mentorship, curriculum, and vetted vendors they need to de-risk both their businesses and technology development. We encourage founders located everywhere to sign up for one of our informational sessions to learn more about the many ways we can help startups tackle challenges and move forward.”

Luminate NY is funded by the transformative Finger Lakes Forward Upstate Revitalization Initiative, a comprehensive strategy to foster economic development and revitalize communities, and is administered by NextCorps. Located in Rochester, NY, the Luminate accelerator provides immediate funding paired with a six-month hybrid mentoring program to help new companies scale both their businesses and technologies. Program participation includes both virtual and in-person events.

The start of recruitment period comes just weeks before Luminate NY’s sixth cohort of companies competes for $2 million in follow-on funding during Luminate Finals 2023 on September 27, 2023. For the third year in a row, Optica is sponsoring finals, which will take place online via Zoom and in person at The Theatre at Innovation Square in Rochester, NY, at 11:30 a.m. EDT. Attendees can register for the free event here. In addition to seeing the teams compete for funding, the public will vote for their favorite startup, which will be awarded $10,000 as part of the annual New York State competition.

The Finger Lakes Region is home to an incredibly rich ecosystem for forward-thinking entrepreneurs who are looking to grow their business. Rochester offers the American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics’ Test, Assembly, and Packaging facility at Eastman Business Park, the University of Rochester’s Institute of Optics, the Rochester Institute of Technology, and more than 150 local OPI companies which employ more than 17,000 employees who are building on the region’s legacy as a global imaging leader.

State Senator Jeremy Cooney said, “Luminate NY is the future of startup companies across the Greater Rochester and Finger Lakes region. Their innovative approach to optics, photonics and imaging industries is helping to lay the foundation for new businesses to thrive in their early stages, stimulating New York’s economy for years to come. I support and encourage anyone embarking on a business venture to apply to this program and be a part of Rochester’s flourishing OPI industry.”

Assemblymember Harry Bronson said, “The Luminate NY Accelerator Program attracts the most dynamic light technology startups from across the globe; shining a spotlight on our community as a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. This year’s finalists represent another round of innovations that will advance our optics, photonics and imaging industries. Their ingenuity and creativity will continue to bring job opportunities and investments to our region. We must meet their vision and successes with equitable workforce development programs that not only support emerging and expanding industries, but also provide career pathways for all members of our community.”

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello said, “Monroe County and the Finger Lakes Region is fast becoming a national leader in the high-tech optics, photonics and imaging industries, thanks in part to the Luminate NY business competition providing critical early support for entrepreneurs. Round 7 of this competition will continue to jumpstart the businesses of tomorrow and position our community as a global leader in the light-based products and services sector. Thank you to Gov. Kathy Hochul, Finger Lakes Forward and Empire State Development for continuing these key investments that boost our local economy.”

Rochester Mayor Malik Evans said, “Rochester has some of the most innovative, inventive and generous minds focused on optics, photonics and imaging collected in one community. The wealth of wisdom and support here in Rochester offers unparalleled opportunities for early-stage companies to take their ideas to the next level.”

For additional information about Luminate NY, visit luminate.org.

To register for an informational session about Luminate NY, visit luminate.org/cohort-7-info-sessions.

For additional information about NextCorps, visit nextcorps.org.

Accelerating Finger Lakes Forward

Today’s announcement complements “Finger Lakes Forward,” the region’s comprehensive strategy to generate robust economic growth and community development. The regionally designed plan focuses on investing in key industries including photonics, agriculture‎ and food production, and advanced manufacturing. More information is available here.​

About Empire State Development

Empire State Development (ESD) is New York’s chief economic development agency (www.esd.ny.gov). The mission of ESD is to promote a vigorous and growing economy, encourage the creation of new job and economic opportunities, increase revenues to the State and its municipalities, and achieve stable and diversified local economies. Through the use of loans, grants, tax credits and other forms of financial assistance, ESD strives to enhance private business investment and growth to spur job creation and support prosperous communities across New York State. ESD is also the primary administrative agency overseeing the Regional Economic Development Councils and the marketing of ““I LOVE NY”, the State’s iconic tourism brand. For more information on Regional Councils and Empire State Development, visit regionalcouncils.ny.gov and esd.ny.gov.