What is Luminate?

Luminate is the only international startup accelerator focused solely on next-generation optics, photonics and imaging (OPI). Located in the world capital of imaging—Rochester, New York—Luminate is bringing visionary entrepreneurs from around the globe together with OPI pioneers and qualified investors to speed innovation and time to market. It’s also providing early-stage companies with the capital necessary to further develop their technologies, including $100,000 upon program acceptance, and a chance to win up to $1 million in follow-on funding.

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. Our team will work closely with you to help make your company a success. We’ll connect you with our highly skilled mentors and partners so you can take advantage of their expertise and networks.

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.

Throughout the program, we’ll be providing 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, participants will pitch at Light Tomorrow with Today, and will compete for a portion of $2 million in follow-on funding.

Why Rochester?

Rochester has long been the country’s optics and imaging capital. The Institute of Optics at the University of Rochester was the first optical educational institute in the country and has granted nearly 50 percent of the optics degrees in the United States. Similarly, the Optical Society of America was founded in Rochester.

With an economy built upon companies like Xerox, Eastman Kodak, Corning, and Bausch and Lomb, optics and instrumentation are deeply ingrained in the region’s ecosystem. The area enjoys a strong optical workforce along with a culture of collaboration, both among industry and academia, and among 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.

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.  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 apply to Luminate?

Luminate is a highly competitive cohort-based accelerator program that runs annually. Applications are accepted over the summer, with 20 semi-finalists selected to visit the region in November for final interviews, tours, and meetings. Ten finalists are then selected to join Luminate, with the accelerator program starting in January of each year. Ready to start your application? Get started here.

Can my company stay at Luminate after the program?

The Rochester ecosystem can be very beneficial to startup companies, especially those in the optics industry. We also believe extended incubation can help your company succeed. Companies accepting follow-on funding are required to remain in Rochester following the investment. All program participants are welcome to stay at the NextCorps incubator at Sibley through the end of the calendar year as well.

What kinds of companies are a good fit for Luminate?

Luminate works with companies that are solving difficult and high impact problems with innovative technologies. We are looking for startups that have already proven their technologies at least at lab scale, and are ready to take the next step. Companies must be incorporated and must have a team of at least two members committed full time to the task of commercializing their technology. We are 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 are now accepting applications for Cohort 2! Applications close on September 24th, so get started now.

Do program participants need to be U.S. 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.

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