World’s largest startup accelerator for optics, photonics and imaging begins operations

The Luminate accelerator, a new $5M per year initiative recently announced by New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, has officially launched with its new name and website, and is now accepting expressions of interest from startup companies, mentors, VCs and corporate partners.  A national advisory board is being assembled and a managing director is being hired, with a goal of opening the startup application window in late July. Teams will be competing for one of ten available slots in the first cohort, guaranteeing them a minimum investment of $100,000, and potentially as much as $1M.

Rochester, NY – In January, Governor Andrew Cuomo and Empire State Development announced the creation of a new startup accelerator program for optics, photonics, and imaging (OPI) enabled companies. Today, James Senall, president of High Tech Rochester (HTR), introduced the Luminate accelerator, focused on growing the most promising OPI enabled companies in the world. Luminate seeks visionary entrepreneurs solving challenging problems including but not limited to: machine vision, inspection, biophotonics, security, surveillance, augmented & virtual reality, and autonomous vehicles.

While optical technologies are ubiquitous, the industry is highly specialized and fragmented. Consequently, most accelerator programs simply do not have the focus or domain expertise to optimally support OPI startups. Luminate will address this underserved need from its headquarters in Rochester, NY, the optics and imaging capital of the world.  Home to the University of Rochester’s Institute of Optics, the Rochester Institute of Technology, AIM Photonics, and over 100 local OPI companies, Rochester has the workforce, technology base, and support resources to optimally launch and grow OPI startups.

Luminate applicants must be incorporated, have a full-time team, should have proven their core technology, and preferably developed a working prototype. Once admitted, companies will receive assistance with capital and a community of resources.  Each member of the cohort will receive a $100,000 initial convertible note investment, with a chance to receive a portion of an additional $2M of funding that will be invested at “demo day” following the rigorous six month program. The top investment is expected to be $1M.

“High Tech Rochester has been in the business of growing startup companies for 30 years, and our programs and facilities have evolved over time to rival the top accelerator programs in the country. The timing of the launch of the Luminate accelerator couldn’t be better, as we will be opening our brand new downtown location at the Sibley building just as our first Luminate cohort kicks off.” says Senall.

Luminate is in the process of recruiting for a Managing Director as well as a nationwide Advisory Board with a passion for helping startups. For those interested in getting involved with the Luminate accelerator, either as a startup, mentor, corporate or venture partner, please visit our website


About High Tech Rochester

High Tech Rochester (HTR) is a non-profit whose mission is to help tech entrepreneurs launch successful companies, and to help established businesses increase revenues and profits.  HTR offers a suite of services that include various incubator and accelerator programs for startups as well as growth consulting services for established companies.  Learn more at: