World’s largest startup accelerator for optics, photonics, and imaging enabled applications
Board of Advisors
Principal, Westlake Photonics
Jenifer Bunis is a native of Buffalo, New York, and in 1986, she graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a B.S. in Optical Engineering from the University of Rochester. Armed with this unique and highly specialized degree, she moved to Boston to begin her career at MIT Lincoln Laboratory, where she worked as a research associate in the Laser Radar Group, under the Star Wars defense program. After two years in this role, she decided to move away from pure research and towards a more commercial venture. She joined Questek, a manufacturer of Excimer lasers, as an Applications Engineer. Upon the sale of Questek four years later, Jenifer accepted a position as the first Sales Engineer for Synrad, then a small CO2 laser startup in a Seattle suburb. Jenifer stayed at this company for almost twenty years, growing the company and her responsibilities along the way. From a Sales Engineer to Executive Vice President, she gained valuable experience in operations, business development, sales, and supply chain management.
Her years of industry experience culminated in joining the board of Rofin-Sinar, an international laser and systems manufacturer, acquired by Coherent in 2016. She then started Westlake Photonics, a photonics consulting firm specializing in Talent Acquisition, Business Development, and M&A. Jenifer brings 25+ years of experience in management of all aspects of Laser/Photonics business including: Components, Systems, and Applications, as well as an extensive personal/business network in Photonics.
Milton Chang, PhD
Managing Partner, Incubic Management
Milton Chang is the author of Toward Entrepreneurship and managing partner of Incubic Management (www.miltonchang.com). He was president of Newport and New Focus, which he took public. And the companies he incubated resulted in six IPOs and seven acquisitions. The companies he current works with include Aurrion (acquired by Juniper Networks), MBio Diagnostics, YesVideo, and Protein Fluidics.
He is a Trustee of the California Institute of Technology and has recently served on the SEC Advisory Committee on Small and Emerging Companies. He also served on the Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology for NIST and the authoring committee of the National Academies’ Optics and Photonics: Essential Technologies for Our Nation. He writes a business and management column for Laser Focus World.
Dr. Chang earned his BS engineering degree with highest honors from the University of Illinois and PhD from the California Institute of Technology, and received Distinguished Alumni awards from both U of I and Caltech. He also attended the Harvard Owner/President Management Program (OPM) and was a member of the (YPO). He is a fellow of the IEEE, the OSA, and the Laser Institute of America, and is past president of IEEE Photonics Society and the Laser Institute of America.
Stu Elby, PhD
SVP, Data Center Business Group at Infinera
Dr. Stuart Elby is Senior Vice President of the Data Center Business Group at Infinera Corporation, where he is responsible for the P&L of their data center networking product portfolio targeted at cloud and data center operators.
Prior to Infinera, Elby served as VP and Chief Technologist of Verizon Labs and Verizon Digital Media Service. During his tenure at Verizon, he had significant influence in the architecture and development of Verizon’s networks and services platforms including the migration to packet voice, the adoption of MPLS, introduction of wavelength switching/ROADM platforms, the first live Carrier 100G long haul circuit, and automated digital media distribution services. Previously, he served as a research associate at the NSF Center for Telecommunications Research at Columbia University, lead technologist at a laser surgery start-up and staff engineer at StorageTek. He serves on several university and industry advisory boards. Elby holds a BS in Optical Engineering from the University of Rochester and an MSEE and Doctorate from Columbia University.
Stephen D. Fantone, PhD
Founder and President, Optikos Corporation
Stephen D. Fantone received his S.B. degrees in E.E. and Management from MIT, and his Ph.D. from The Institute of Optics at the University of Rochester (U of R). He has been a Senior Lecturer in the MIT M.E. Department since 1995. Dr. Fantone is the founder and president of Optikos Corporation. Established in 1982, Optikos is an engineering and instrumentation firm for clients developing medical devices and diagnostics, virtual reality and consumer products, aerospace and defense systems, and automotive sensing and imaging applications. Optikos also develops and markets metrology instruments.
Dr. Fantone is an OSA Fellow, and has served in many leadership roles and on many of its boards, including 18 years as Treasurer. Dr. Fantone received OSA’s Distinguished Service Award, which was ultimately renamed after him personally. Dr. Fantone serves on the Advisory Committees for both the U of R Hajim School Dean, and The Institute of Optics Director. He has received both the University’s Distinguished Alumnus and Distinguished Scholar Awards. Dr. Fantone serves on the board of the Hertz Foundation and as Chairman of the Pioneer Institute. Previous board membership included Zygo Corporation, Rofin-Sinar Technologies, Inc. and Benthos, Inc. (Chairman). He has been awarded over 65 patents covering a broad range of optical technologies.
Don Golini, Chair
Founder, QED Technologies
Don Golini is a successful entrepreneur with extensive experience in the development, management and commercialization of new technologies. As president and founder of QED Technologies, Don licensed a university technology and developed products that succeeded in global markets. QED was acquired in 2006 by Cabot Microelectronics and Golini stayed on as president until 2010. Previously, Golini managed the research program at the Center for Optics Manufacturing at the University of Rochester (U of R), and worked on large optics manufacturing and R&D at Itek Optical Systems in Lexington, Mass.
Don was an adjunct professor at the Simon School of Business, is on the Hajim School Dean’s Visiting Committee, and the executive committee for the U of R Technology Development Fund. He was chairman of the Rochester Angel Network, worked as an EIR at High Tech of Rochester, and continues to advise a number of companies. A former president of the OSA Rochester chapter and named on 7 U.S. patents, Golini now resides on the New Hampshire seacoast, serves as a catalyst for MIT’s Deshpande Center and is passionate about startups and entrepreneurship. He received his B.S. in Optics from the University of Rochester and M.S. in Electro-Optics from Tufts University.
President, Jenoptik Optical Systems
Jay Kumler is President of Jenoptik Optical Systems, the US optics operations of Jenoptik AG. Jenoptik AG is a globally operating integrated photonics group with nearly 3,600 employees present in more than 80 countries and with customers in the semiconductor equipment, automotive, medical, defense and aviation industries. Prior to Jenoptik, Kumler founded Coastal Optical Systems which he lead for 10 years and sold to Jenoptik. Before Coastal, Kumler designed optical systems for United Technologies and Bell Laboratories.
With over 28 years of optical design and engineering experience, Kumler is a published author, has developed patents and speaks regularly on optical solutions. He is an advisor and founding sponsor of the annual SPIE Startup Challenge pitch competition in San Francisco, an SPIE Fellow and served on the SPIE board of directors from 2010-2012. Kumler is also past president of APOMA, has earned a B.S. Physics from Miami University and a M.S. Optics from the University of Rochester.
Michael Liehr, PhD
CEO American Institute for Manufacturing of Integrated Photonics
Michael Liehr is the Chief Executive Officer of the American Institute for Manufacturing (AIM) of Integrated Photonics and the SUNY Poly Executive Vice President for Technology and Innovation. Michael focuses on the creation of new semiconductor and related industries business opportunities, and is responsible for the effective and efficient operation of the SUNY Poly industrial programs including SUNY Polytechnic Institute’s strategic 300mm advanced CMOS line, integrated photonic semiconductor and 3D packaging and the 150mm SiC power electronics. He is also SUNY Poly’s Vice President for Research.
Prior to this assignment, he led the Global 450mm Consortium through the start-up phase as the General Manager and was an IBM Distinguished Engineer.
Duncan Moore, PhD
Vice Provost for Entrepreneurship, University of Rochester
Duncan Moore has led a distinguished 40 year career in academia, research, business, engineering, and government. Since joining the University of Rochester in 1974, he has served in myriad positions, from professor to director of the Institute of Optics to dean of engineering and applied sciences to vice provost of entrepreneurship. Moore is an expert in gradient-index optics, computer-aided design, optical system manufacturing, medical optics, and optical instrumentation. He is highly regarded for promoting technical entrepreneurship and for educating researchers on how to look for market opportunities, evaluate technologies, and determine business opportunities.
Moore was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, received the Edwin H. Land Medal, is also a fellow of SPIE, OSA, the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, the IEEE, and the American Institute for Medical and Biomedical Engineering. Moore was associate director for technology in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy where he advised President Bill Clinton on U.S. technology policies. Moore is the founder and former president of the Gradient Lens Corporation, chaired the Hubble Independent Optical Review Panel, and served a one-year appointment as the science advisor to Senator John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia.
Dr. Ryne P. Raffaelle
Vice President for Research and Associate Provost at Rochester Institute of Technology
Dr. Ryne P. Raffaelle is the Vice President for Research and Associate Provost at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). He is the former Director of the National Center for Photovoltaics at the National Renewable Energy Lab of the U.S. Department of Energy. Prior to serving at NREL, he was the Academic Director for the Golisano Institute for Sustainability and Director of the NanoPower Research Laboratory at RIT. He has worked as a visiting scientist at the NASA-Glenn Research Center, NASA Kennedy Research Center, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. He is the author of over 200 refereed publications and is the Managing Editor of Progress in Photovoltaics, published by Wiley Interscience. He has a Ph.D. in Physics from University of Missouri-Rolla, and B.S and M.S. in Physics from Southern Illinois University.
Darius Sankey, PhD
N. Darius Sankey is CEO of 3Discovered, and a seasoned executive in the venture capital and technology industries. Dr. Sankey is also currently a founder and Managing Director of Innovation Acceleration Capital Partners. Darius has served as a Managing Director at Sway Ventures, and Ocean Tomo, leading their Innovation Management Practice. Before his work with Ocean Tomo, Darius served as a Senior Director of Portfolio Management at Intellectual Ventures, a Managing Director at DFJ – Zone Ventures, and has served as a board member for several companies including Unium, 3Discovered, Siimpel Corporation and Neven Vision (acquired by Google).
He has worked as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company, Inc. and held strategic planning, consulting, and R&D positions at RAND and AT&T Bell Laboratories. Darius holds a Ph.D. in Optical Engineering from the Institute of Optics, University of Rochester and a B.S. in Physics and Electrical Engineering from MIT. He is also an adjunct professor at the Rady School of Business at the University of California, at San Diego (UCSD).
James S. Senall
Jim joined NextCorps (formerly High Tech Rochester) as President in 2009, and in that capacity leads the NextCorps team towards their mission of creating entrepreneurship and innovation-based regional growth. During his tenure at NextCorps, the organization has launched several new initiatives including a software accelerator program, clean tech accelerator, and a statewide Entrepreneur-in-Residence program. Through these and its other offerings, NextCorps has served more than 800 client companies over the past 5 years.
Prior experience includes co-founding the Rochester Angel Network in 2005, which he continues to lead as its Managing Director; experience with multiple startup companies; engineering and manufacturing roles at multi-billion dollar firms; and teaching graduate level courses in tech entrepreneurship.
Jim has served in various board roles including chairman of the Business Incubator Association of New York State, board member of the New York State Economic Development Council, board member of Adarza Biosystems, Executive Committee member of the University of Rochester’s Tech Development Fund, Investment Committee member of Launch NY’s seed capital fund, and board member of Rochester Angel Network and the Rochester Angel Fund.
Jim holds a B.S. in electrical engineering from Rochester Institute of Technology, and an M.B.A. in marketing and entrepreneurship from the Simon Business School, University of Rochester.
Linda Smith, ASA
President, CERES Technology Advisors, Inc.
Linda has more than 25 years of experience in merger & acquisition advisory, product management, sales and engineering. She founded CERES in 2005 to serve photonics technology companies that were underserved by generalist investment banks and business brokerages.
At CERES, Linda sources and leads buy and sell side M & A advisory engagements with clients spanning a full spectrum of photonics enabled markets — from multi-billion-dollar corporations and private equity firms to entrepreneur-operated privately held companies.
Linda is an Accredited Senior Appraiser (ASA), specializing in the valuation of businesses with core photonics technology.
Linda’s market experience, prior to CERES, crosses optical components and lasers, clinical and analytical instrumentation, medical devices, telecommunications, and semiconductor equipment. She held senior marketing and sales management positions at market leaders, Thermo Fisher Scientific/Newport/Spectra Physics, and QIOPTIQ/LINOS/Excelitas. She also held executive product marketing positions at venture capital funded companies commercializing integrated optics and MEMS technologies.
Linda is a member of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneurial Winning WomenTM. She is a recognized leader in the photonics community. As Fellow of SPIE, the International Society of Optics and Photonics, she serves on its Financial Advisory Committee, chaired technical conferences in biophotonics and is frequent lecturer in technology entrepreneurship. She holds a B.S. in Optics from University of Rochester and M.B.A. from Babson College.
Sujatha Ramanujan, PhD
Managing Director, Luminate
Sujatha Ramanujan is serial entrepreneur and seasoned executive with 25 years of experience in Clinical Devices and in Consumer Electronics. Sujatha has started, built and grown three startup businesses in cardiac surgical equipment, optical communications and nano materials. In addition, as CTO and Product Line Manager of Mammography CAD and Pediatric Businesses within Kodak and Carestream, her team developed and launched clinical equipment and Clinical IT on every continent. Sujatha has held scientific, technical leadership, and laboratory head positions in Chrysler Corporation, GE, Kodak, Carestream, and Intrinsiq Materials. She holds 28 issued US patents. As a corporate investor for Kodak, then later working with regional investment councils she provides guidance to start-ups, M&A strategies for growing businesses and vetting of technologies to investors. She has served on investment advisories in US, Canada, and Israel.
Dr. Ramanujan holds a PhD in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan and is an Executive Board Member of the National Women’s Hall of Fame.
As Marketing Director, Holly focuses on inbound and outbound marketing for Luminate as well as branding and marketing activities for NextCorps. She is a senior-level marketing and PR professional who has worked at small and large agencies, including Brand Cool, Brand Integrity, Text 100, and Young & Rubicam. Holly has been a branding and marketing instructor at The Entrepreneurs Network for the last four years and she teaches executive communication at St. John Fisher through the Center for Community Engagement. She is excited to be a part of Rochester’s vibrant entrepreneurial community.
Director of Operations
As Director of Operations, Andy oversees recruitment and programming for Luminate NY.
Prior to joining NextCorps, Andy has an extensive background in startups and the digital space, including: founder of Dogways Inc., a venture-backed mobile app startup; President of Toontrack Music USA, launching the Swedish music software firm in the U.S. and leading it to #1 in the world in sales; XLN Audio of Sweden, leading them to 15x sales growth; Brixy Inc., a 150+ baby store store association, launching their digital platform; Brannland Cider of Sweden, launching the brand in the U.S. in 2017, and Andrea Arden, celebrity pet trainer, on numerous digital and and business projects. Andy is also an accomplished musician, having written and produced songs for major label artists worldwide, including a #1 single in 2013 for Hey! Say! JUMP of Japan.
Optical Metrology Technician
Optical Metrology Technician
As the Optical Metrology Technician, Gary helps all Luminate teams with their optical metrology needs and maintains the Luminate lab. Gary graduated from the Optical Technology program at Monroe Community College, and spent much of his career at Kodak. At Kodak, he worked on the development of a cinema digital laser projector. IMAX bought the rights to that technology, and Gary worked at IMAX in support of commercializing the projectors prior to coming to NextCorps. He also is the co-inventor of 9 granted patents.
Technology Program Manager
Damon Diehl, PhD
Technology Program Manager