Networking in the Optics Capital of the World


Cohort 5 kicked off their time at Luminate by pitching organizations in the region. In May, we turned the tables by hosting our third annual trade show (in person for the first time ever) to give regional organizations the chance to share what they do. The matchmaking meetings that followed helped our founders identify potential partnerships that could help them grow.

Third annual Luminate regional tradeshow


Thank you to all of our presenters for showcasing the many ways our region is collaborating to drive innovation:

During their time back in Rochester, cohort 5 startups also met with leaders from two companies that received follow-on funding as part of Luminate’s inaugural cohort. Niaz Karim, former CEO of Intelon Optics, video conferenced in to talk about the company and technology. Leslie Kimerling, co-founder and CEO of Double Helix Optics (Luminate’s first $1M recipient), discussed hiring practices for startups in the current job market, sharing how she’s focused on her current team’s psyche to ensure new hires are a good fit.

Cohort 5 talks with Niaz and Leslie

This past month of training also included instruction on:

  • Interviewing for results with Mark DeRycke, Director of HR Strategic Services at HR Works.
  • Business plans that capture investor attention with Jack Derby, Head Coach and President, and George Simmons, Senior Partner at Boston-based management consulting firm, Derby Management.
  • Business valuations with Maureen Ruteki, a member of EFPR Group’s Business Valuation, Forensic and Litigation Services practice.
  • Building awareness and leads through public relations with Holly Barrett, NextCorps’ Marketing Director, and Shannon Wojcik, Founder of RKG Communications.
  • Mindfulness with Sabrina Vogler, Certified Professional Coach, Executive Coach, and Grief Specialist in private practice at Heart in the Moment Mindfulness Coaching, LLC.
  • Industry-focused solution selling and blitzscaling with Karen Mesolella, Business Acceleration Manager/Business Strategist at Dawnbreaker, Inc.

Portfolio Updates

Scaling up production. Bounce Imaging closed on $4.2M in venture capital, a Series A prime round that will help them increase production from hundreds of 360° cameras a month to thousands, and complete customer-requested technology upgrades.

More funding for carbon neutral greenhouses. Infrascreen secured $1.5M in funding for its nanotech-enabled ‘smart material’ that can be used to control climatic conditions in greenhouses.

Solidifying the foundation of Quantum Internet. Qunnect was awarded two SBIR awards from the US Department of Energy totaling $1.85M — awards that will further the development and commercialization of the company’s Quantum Repeater product suite.

Introducing VIOMERSE. Simulated Inanimate Models recently announced two milestones: the completion of a corporate rebranding initiative, renaming the company VIOMERSE; and the launch of a fifth spinal surgery training platform.

Snagging a coveted spot. SCOUT, Inc. is among eight startups selected for the third cohort of the NGA Accelerator for cutting-edge innovations in the geospatial market.

Job Opportunities at Luminate Portfolio Companies

Damon Diehl and Melanie DellaPietra at Forge Buffalo's 716 Career FairEven after their time in the accelerator, Luminate startups have our support as they advance their businesses and expand their teams. Technology Program Manager, Dr. Damon Diehl, joined NextCorps’ Melanie DellaPietra at Forge Buffalo’s 716 Career Fair last month to connect with potential applicants for our portfolio companies.

Interested in working with an innovative startup company? Luminate companies are looking for talent, from engineer and research positions to business development, sales, and marketing. Check out the full list of opportunities.

Recognition for Luminate Leadership

Dr. Sujatha Ramanujan, Managing Director of Luminate, was selected for the Rochester Business Journal’s inaugural Power 50 Technology list alongside Jim Senall, President of NextCorps, the nonprofit that created Luminate and other entrepreneurial accelerators and programs. This new list features individuals working to build up Rochester’s reputation as a hotbed of innovation and technology. 

A shout out also goes to the many friends of Luminate who also earned a spot on Power 50, including New York Photonics’ Tom Battley and MCC/AmeriCOM’s Dr. Alexis Vogt. 

In case you missed it: Read the interview with Dr. Vogt and AmeriCOM’s Josanne DeNatale on efforts to address the skilled labor shortage in optics.

PODCAST: Exploring Innovation

Exploring Innovation RIT podcastRIT students in Jennifer Sertl’s Exploring Innovation class are challenged to develop an innovative mindset. Their studies of the innovation process and factors affecting the success or failure of an innovation include interviewing tech business leaders, like those at Luminate portfolio companies.

In episode 9, Gillian Doolittle and Ian Gauger of Circle Optics discuss new technology and the importance of storytelling in innovation. Episode 10 features Alexander Wesley of Arovia, Inc. — makers of the Splay pop-up display — who talks about the long-view of a startup idea, how much time it actually takes to get a workable product model, and what keeps him motivated.

Upcoming Quantum & Photonics Events

June is a busy month for aspiring and early-stage entrepreneurs in quantum and photonics:

  • Luminate is a sponsor of Photonics for Quantum, held at RIT on June 6-9. Come hear invited talks and research on quantum topics, brought to you by SPIE and RIT. Access the full agenda.
  • The Founder Institute has a lineup of free online events for startups, including a fundraising workshop on June 7. Learn more and see the full list of events

See You Next Month!