Now Recruiting Cohort 4


2020 brought unprecedented changes to our accelerator program and the companies we support — and we adapted as innovators do. As we move into a new year and recruit our fourth cohort, we’ll continue to stay flexible and offer the funding, programming, resources, and opportunities that will help our startups succeed.

Apply to Be Part of Cohort 4

Ready to make 2021 your startup’s year? Apply to be considered for Luminate’s next cohort by January 7. Finalists will receive an initial investment up to $100,000 and comprehensive support to speed the commercialization of your technology, plus the chance to compete for additional funding at the end of the cohort.

Questions about the process or whether you’re a fit?
Get in touch with our Director of Operations, Andy Simon.

Congratulations, Sujatha!

Dr. Sujatha RamanujanDr. Sujatha Ramanujan, Luminate’s Managing Director, was elected to The Optical Society’s Fellow Class of 2021 for outstanding leadership in the formation of optics and photonics industry clusters. OSA Fellows are members who have served with distinction in the advancement of optics and photonics and are selected based on contributions to industry education, research, engineering, business, and community.

Congrats, Sujatha, on this recognition, and thank you for your unwavering dedication to the optics and photonics industry!

In Case You Missed It at FiO+LS and Quantum 2.0

FiO+LS and Quantum 2.0 ConferenceThe Optical Society debuted its Quantum 2.0 Conference as part of this year’s Frontiers in Optics and Laser Science APS/DLS (FiO+LS) Conference. Luminate Technology Program Manager, Dr. Damon Diehl, streamed as many virtual talks and presentations as his WiFi would allow and provided a recap of four technical papers on industry research findings.

Check out Damon’s synopsis of these conference samplings that reflect how optics and quantum research are major drivers on the frontiers across a range of disciplines. 

Luminate’s First Virtual Job Fair

Earlier this month, we hosted a virtual job fair to help a number of our portfolio companies fill openings from part-time internships to full-time positions. More than 50 students and new grads registered to attend this first job fair, and our participating companies logged off Zoom with connections to promising potential new hires.

Do you want to work with a startup in the optics, photonics, or imaging space? There are still opportunities available. Check out our job page to apply.

Rick Plympton on “What’s the End Game?”

Through our connections in the regional OPI ecosystem, we’re able to offer seminars to our cohort companies on a variety of subjects that are important to all parts of the startup journey — including the end. Last month, Rick Plympton, CEO of Optimax, a world leader in high-precision optics manufacturing, shared his insights on succession planning and how to leave a legacy to be proud of.

Rick Plympton Optimax
Rick Plympton, CEO of Optimax

While succession planning may be far in the future for many of the companies in our portfolio, Rick stressed the importance of thinking about it early on to attract and retain talent who are interested in long-term tenures. Optimax’s corporate culture of teamwork and innovation is shaped not solely by the objectives of its leaders but by its people, resulting in a dynamic, inclusive work environment. At Optimax, every team member is invested in the future of the company.

7 Succession Planning Tips 

  1. Envision what you want your legacy to be. You can sell your business for a lot of money. More meaningful still, you can make an impact on the community by creating more jobs and contributing to a stronger local economy. Strengthening the community is a positive byproduct of wise succession planning.
  2. Avoid a rigid organizational structure. When you replace top-down management with something more organic, all team members can buy-in to the vision and make sure it works for everyone.
  3. Find out what is important to your team. And figure out what combination of options regarding succession planning will feel like a fit for them.
  4. Create jobs on an ongoing basis. Make sure you’re always looking to add new ideas and new blood to your team.
  5. Seek out opportunities to engage students. Get high school and even younger students excited about STEM. They are the future, and the earlier you involve them, the more invested they will become in your company.
  6. Give your team the ability to create value for your customers. Empower and nurture them in an environment where ordinary people can be rockstars.
  7. Think about how to give employees a piece of the pie. Inviting them to the table will help them feel invested in your shared success, today and tomorrow.


Double Helix Optics on Deck for SPIE CEO Interview Series

SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, boasts over 250,000 members representing almost 200 countries. In addition to the educational programs SPIE conducts each year, they recently added a CEO Interview Series during which key leaders from OPI companies discuss how their organizations are managing through the challenging times COVID-19 has created.

Leslie Kimerling Double Helix OpticsThis month’s interview (Wednesday, October 28 at 3 PM EDT) will feature Leslie Kimerling, CEO and Co-Founder of Double Helix Optics, the $1 million winner of Luminate’s first cohort. Double Helix Optics’ technology allows for the visualization, tracking, and study of cell structures down to the single molecule level in 3D. Leslie will be interviewed by Evan Nisselson, General Partner and Founder at LDV Capital, about her path, her philanthropy, and what she thinks about the future.

Register for the SPIE Webinar

Double Helix is also hosting a webinar next month (Tuesday, November 17 at 12 noon EDT) with Principal Investigator and Research Director, Dr. Valentina Emiliani of the Vision Institute in Paris. Dr. Emiliani will present work using holography with engineered phase masks for deep study of the brain and its circuitry.

Register for the Double Helix Webinar

SunDensity Secures $2.5 Million in Funding

Congratulations to Dr. Nish Sonwalkar and the SunDensity team for closing a $2.5 million investment round led by Clean Energy Ventures. SunDensity’s Photonic Smart Coating (PSC) can enhance the energy output of solar panels by 20%. Part of SunDensity’s raise includes $1 million from Luminate, awarded at Luminate Finals 2020.



Kilo Medical Solutions

Luminate Director of Operations, Andy Simon, spoke with Kilo Medical Solutions’ Founder and CEO, Joshna Seelam, about how her team’s medical device technology is modernizing the NICU. Watch the video interview with this cohort 3 startup that took home the Audience Choice Award at Luminate Finals 2020 (a $10,000 investment).


Dr. Damon Diehl, Technology Program Manager at Luminate, talked with Dr. Edgar Janunts, CEO and Founder of AkknaTek, one of two Honorable Achievement winners at Luminate Finals 2020 (a $250,000 investment). Watch the video interview focused on how AkknaTek’s Lens Reviewer is helping ophthalmologists improve patient satisfaction following cataract surgery.

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