Governor Hochul Announces Luminate New York Alum Owl AI to Grow Operations in Monroe County

Via New York State
July 20, 2022

Autonomous Imaging Company Moving to New Location in the Town of Perinton; Commits to Creating More Than 100 New Jobs

Investment Complements “Finger Lakes Forward” – The Region’s Comprehensive Strategy to Revitalize Communities and Grow the Economy

Owl AI team photo
Owl AI, an autonomous imaging company based in Perinton, is expanding and vowing to create 105 new jobs in the area. (Photo provided by Empire State Development)

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that Luminate New York alum OWL AI will expand its operations in Monroe County in the Town of Perinton, committing to creating up to 105 high-technology jobs in the region. The project will see the autonomous imaging company move into a larger facility located at the Willowbrook Office Park, which is expected to be operational this fall.

“The expansion of OWL AI in the Finger Lakes region illustrates how our targeted investments in innovation have transformed the forward-thinking ideas of brilliant entrepreneurs into new and creative jobs that will boost our economy,” Governor Hochul said. “I look forward to seeing other innovative Luminate NY companies commit to establishing their roots in Monroe County, which will lead to tremendous growth and move the Finger Lakes economy forward.”

“New York’s economic development programs are not only getting new companies off the ground and putting New Yorkers back to work, but as we see in the case of OWL AI, helping successful companies grow,” said Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado. “As we see more and more job growth, development and opportunity, we will see more of our young people remain here in New York to work and raise their families.”

Luminate NY, which is administered by NextCorps, is the world’s largest business accelerator for emerging companies that have optics, photonics, and imaging enabled technologies. Empire State Development is providing up to $750,000 through the Excelsior Tax Credit Jobs program in exchange for the performance-based job creation commitments over the next five years.  Since its inception, Luminate NY has invested $13 million in 52 startups.

OWL AI was a round four finalist of the Luminate NY business competition, won $250,000 in follow-on funding, and recently closed a $15 million Series A financing round. Founded in 2018, Owl AI has developed a sensor modality for autonomous vehicles known as monocular 3D Thermal Ranging that dramatically improves pedestrian safety to reduce accidents and save lives. Current Automotive Driver Assist System sensors typically are comprised of mutually dependent visible-light cameras and radar. When one of these sensors becomes ineffective, so too does the entire sensor suite. This scenario happens often at night and in inclement weather.

Owl’s products are able to minimize accident risk by generating 3D perception capabilities for automobiles, trucks and buses by customizing high-definition thermal imaging and innovative artificial intelligence applications based on computer vision algorithms. These algorithms then use that data to produce ultra-dense, three-dimensional point clouds, up to 150x that of LIDAR, along with highly refined object classification for detection, identification and location of pedestrians, cyclists, and animals.

OWL AI Co-Founder and CEO Charles Gershman, said, “Owl’s roots are deeply tied to the Greater Rochester Region and to leveraging the rich resources that exist in the imaging capital of the world. Our new facility continues our commitment to growing in Monroe County. The support of Luminate NY and Empire State Development has been tremendous in helping Owl AI position itself for the growth that will come from transforming capabilities in the transportation market.”

OWL AI’s commitment to growing operations in Monroe County further supports the success of the Luminate NY OPI Competition. The companies in the portfolio have raised an additional $113 million and have a combined valuation of approximately $400 million. As, a result of the globally renowned accelerator program, many of the participating companies are establishing their U.S. operations or some aspect of research and manufacturing in the Rochester region — which continues to be the epicenter of the OPI industry in North America. This has resulted in the creation of 133 new jobs in the region, with an additional 45 positions that are currently open.

Luminate NY Managing Director Sujatha Ramanujan said, “Owl AI exemplifies an emerging company in the Finger Lakes Region that is developing revolutionary technology using optics and semiconductors. The company and its team is well positioned to shape the future of vehicular imaging.

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