What is Luminate?

Luminate is a startup accelerator focused on advancing next generation optics, imaging, and photonics enabled companies. We seek visionary entrepreneurs who are solving difficult problems in Augmented and Virtual Reality, Autonomous Vehicles, Machine Vision, Biophotonics, and other fields. Funded by New York State, and based in the optics and imaging capital of the world – Rochester, NY

How can Luminate help my company?

You’ve identified the market need, and have demonstrated proof-of-concept. Now you need help bringing your product to market. That’s where Luminate comes in; we help you succeed, with capital, connections, and a community of resources. Each accepted company will receive a $100,000 convertible note and is eligible for follow-on investments from us and our venture partners. Our team will work closely with you to help make your company a success. We’ll connect you with our highly skilled mentors and partner organizations so you can take advantage of their expertise and networks. You’ll also have access to our curated service providers to help with legal, accounting, marketing, sales, and other business assistance.

We’ll help you identify and get in front of customers and make introductions to the vast network of suppliers and potential partners within the Rochester, NY region. You’ll become a part of the Rochester optics and imaging community, and the entrepreneurial community at Sibley Square. Each program participant will be provided with working space as well as access to the Luminate Optical Lab, NextCorps First Prototyping Lab, and equipment and labs through local partners. We’ll also hold community and networking events, so you can grow your network, and get a better sense for the resources available to you in the community.

Throughout the program we’ll be working to provide you with the resources, knowledge, and connections you need to succeed, as well as giving you opportunities to hone your story. At the end of the program, the program participants will be given the opportunity to pitch at the Luminate Demo Day, and will have a chance to receive a portion of $2 million in follow on funding from Luminate, as well as additional investments from our corporate and venture partners.

Why Rochester?

Rochester has long been the optics and imaging capital of the United States. In 1929, the Institute of Optics was founded at the University of Rochester, as the first optical educational institute in the country. To date it has granted about half of the optics degrees in the United States. Similarly, the Optical Society of America was founded by a group of optical scientists and instrument makers in Rochester.

With an economy built upon such companies as Xerox, Eastman Kodak, Corning, and Bausch and Lomb, optics and instrumentation are deeply ingrained into the city’s ecosystem. The city enjoys a strong and vibrant optical work force as well as a culture of collaboration, both between industry and academia, and between companies working in different portions of the value chain. The local Photonics cluster has over a hundred member companies, and Rochester has perhaps the most robust optics, photonics, and imaging supply chains in the country, in addition to being a well spring of innovation for optics related IP.

The federal government recognized Rochester’s strength in photonics in 2015 when it selected Rochester to be the headquarters of the American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics, and in 2016 a memorandum of understanding was signed between the world’s two leading optical regions, Jena, Germany and Rochester, NY to facilitate increased collaboration.

We believe that Rochester provides tremendous opportunities for entrepreneurs working with optics and photonics, and our program participants will leverage these opportunities to help accelerate the development of their companies.

How does my company get involved in Luminate?

Luminate is a highly competitive cohort-based accelerator program that runs annually. Applications will be accepted over the summer, with 20 semi-finalists selected to visit the region in the Fall for final interviews, tours, and meetings. Ten finalists will then be selected to join Luminate, with the accelerator program starting in January of each year.

Can my company stay at Luminate after the program?

We believe the Rochester ecosystem can be very beneficial to startup companies in general and optics-enabled startups specifically. We believe extended incubation can help your company succeed. Those companies accepting follow-on funding are required to remain in incubation with us for 1 year following the investment. Furthermore, we welcome all program participants to apply for incubator space at the NextCorps incubator at Sibley (within which Luminate is located) to enable easy access to the Luminate network and the Rochester startup and technical ecosystem.

What sort of companies are a good fit for Luminate?

Luminate is focused on working with companies who are solving difficult and high impact problems with innovative technologies. We are looking for companies who have already proven their technologies at least at lab scale, and are ready to take the next step. The Companies must be incorporated, and they must have a team of at least two members committed full time to the task of commercializing their technology. We are primarily targeting next generation optics, imaging, and photonics enabled applications such as Augmented and Virtual Reality, Autonomous Vehicles, Machine Vision, and Biophotonic devices.

When will you be accepting applications?

We plan to start accepting applications July 2017. However, if you think your startup is a good fit for Luminate, we’d love to hear from you.

Do program participants need to be US Citizens?

No, we support teams with transformative ideas regardless of the nationality of the founders. However, you must be eligible to work in the U.S.

We’re an established company and we love what you’re doing here. How can we get involved?

Whether you are a local, national, or international firm, we are always looking for new partners to help move our startups forwards. If you can offer expertise, equipment, access to facilities, or other resources that could be valuable to our companies, please contact us, so we can figure out how you can best become involved.

I’m an entrepreneur with substantial experience in the space, how can I get involved as a mentor?

Our mentor program admits by referral only, so there is no application. However, we are always looking for outside experts in the community who may be able to assist our companies. If you feel that you can help our companies, feel free to contact us and let us know how you’d like to be of assistance. Also, feel to engage with our companies through our community events.

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