Where Innovation Grows


Now at the half-way point of cohort 4, Luminate continues to build on the region’s legacy for innovation in optics, photonics, and imaging. Two companies from our portfolio have committed to creating nearly 120 jobs in the City of Rochester — SunDensity, $1 million recipient of cohort 3; and Circle Optics, $250,000 recipient of cohort 2. 

To date, the 40 companies in the portfolio now share a net worth of $300 million, and many are establishing U.S. operations. As Managing Director, Dr. Sujatha Ramanujan, shared, “Companies are finding that Rochester provides a viable soft-landing for their businesses to establish a U.S. presence.”

SEMINAR HIGHLIGHT: Self-Compassionate Mindfulness

Techniques and Tools for Leadership and High Performance, with Sabrina Vogler

Emotional intelligence (or E.Q.) is responsible for 90% of our ability to succeed in leadership. Through mindfulness, we can cultivate E.Q. We can “rewire” old habits, feel more productive and satisfied, craft new ways to respond to stress, and lead with compassion.

Sabrina Vogler MindfulnessDuring month three of their time in the accelerator, cohort 4 startups participated in a two-part workshop on mindfulness with Sabrina Vogler, Certified Professional Coach, Executive Coach, and Grief Specialist in private practice at Heart in the Moment Mindfulness Coaching, LLC. Sabrina led teams through different exercises to deepen their awareness and access resources within themselves to help meet the demands of the moment.

“The people who are most apt to be strengthened by adversity are also the most specific about how they feel,” said Sabrina. “If we’re ever going to be able to regulate ourselves, we first need to get granular with how we’re feeling.”

Within her workshops, Sabrina broke down the neuroscience of mindfulness, explaining that there are two mutually exclusive modes of the brain. In the default mode, we are highly judgemental and apt to “time travel,” revisiting the past and anticipating the future. In the direct experience mode, we are mindful and present, observing with curiosity the causes and conditions that contribute to how we’re feeling, and asking ourselves what we need, as a supportive friend might.

Among the many mindful ‘hacks’ Sabrina shared, a moment of C.A.L.M. is particularly useful to practice when we’re transitioning from one task to another, heading into a big meeting, or wanting to shift out of an emotional state.

  • C = Center yourself. Anchor in the breath and notice the physical touchpoints, such as your feet on the floor.
  • A = Ask. “What is it like for me in this moment?”
  • L = Listen with curiosity. Pay attention to what word or words are coming up to describe how you’re feeling.
  • M = Make it easy. Talk to yourself as you would to a friend, validating when there’s a struggle that needs to be addressed.

In addition to the group workshops, cohort 4 teams have access to one-on-one coaching with Sabrina throughout their time in the accelerator.

Cohort 4 startups also attended training on:

  • Patents and IP considerations with patent agent, Lou Horvath
  • Steps to successful grant seeking, with Margit Brazda Poirier, GPC, M.S., owner and founder of Grants4Good LLC
  • Industry-focused solution selling and blitzscaling with Karen Mesolella, Business Acceleration Manager/Business Strategist at Dawnbreaker, Inc.
  • Business valuation methods with Maureen Rutecki, CPA/ABV/CFF, ASA, MBA of EFPR Group’s Business Valuation, Forensic, and Litigation Services Group
  • Employee handbooks and policies with Kristin Leonardo, HR Strategic Partner at HR Works, Inc.


Andluca Technologies: Solar Powered Smart Glass

“Over half the buildings that stand right now will still be in use in 2050. As you can imagine, it’s a lot harder to retrofit, improve, and upgrade existing buildings than it is to build an energy-efficient new one.”
Nick Davy, Cofounder and CEO

Andluca Technologies Wireless Smart GlassBuildings in the United States are responsible for more carbon emissions than most countries. Existing building stock is a huge problem in terms of our energy intensity, and available smart glass systems require major renovation.

Nick Davy, Cofounder and CEO of Andluca Technologies, shares how the Princeton University spinout developed a smart glass solution that can be installed quickly and without disruption.

Get to know Andluca Technologies.

Dynocardia: A New Way to Measure Blood Pressure

“Everyone is used to hearing less than 120/80 as ‘normal’ blood pressure. But if you understood where your BP was throughout the day and night, it would be a much better predictor of your risks than this one number.”
Mohan Thanikachalam, MD, Founder and CEO

Dynocardia's ViTrack wearable

Occlusive arm-cuff devices have been the standard of care for measuring blood pressure (BP) for more than a century, despite well-known critical issues. Cuffs provide inaccurate BP readings up to 50% of the time, and they can only offer a single measurement, a snapshot of a number that ranges widely over the course of the day.

Dr. Mohan Thanikachalam, Founder and CEO of Dynocardia, shares how his team came up with a fundamentally new way to measure BP, working to address the need for more actionable data that can drive predictive monitoring and preventative care.

Get to know Dynocardia.

Infrascreen: Filters for Greener Greenhouses

“With our filters, growers can increase profitability by up to 40%, which is a very compelling value proposition — especially because they’re buying something that they would already be buying.”
Henri de Lalande, CEO

InfrascreenWe all want the fruits and vegetables we eat to be healthy for us and healthy for the planet. But even organic growers use pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides, plus a huge amount of water to sustain their crops. While greenhouse growers are working to reduce water waste, the use of chemicals, and CO2 emissions, they still have a ways to go to improve energy efficiency.

Henri de Lalande, CEO of Switzerland-based Infrascreen, describes how his company designed the next generation of greenhouse screens that enable productivity gains and drastic improvements in climate control.

Get to know Infrascreen.


Approaching first customers can be intimidating and uncomfortable for early-stage startups. Solution Selling with Karen Mesolella deconstructed the process of selling solutions into a direct and results-oriented approach that’s fully focused on closing. You only get one shot with a potential customer and you have to get it right the first time. We now know we can walk into that meeting with confidence, ready to close because we’re prepared with the tools we’ve learned.”

Stephanie Bourdon Momentum Optics COO

Stephanie Bourdon, COO, Momentum Optics

Chad Husko Iris Light Technologies

Chad Husko, PhD, Founder and CEO, Iris Light Technologies

Thank you for the introduction. That was fantastic!”

Chad, on a recent connection to a service provider


Teaming up with AFRL. The Air Force Research Laboratory recently approved a cooperative R&D agreement between its Nanoelectronic Materials Branch and Iris Light Technologies to work together on hybrid “printable” silicon lasers.

More limelight for Light Lace. Organic Robotics Corporation’s stretchable Light Lace sensors snagged coverage in Engineering and Technology (E&T)’s lineup of tech for athlete monitoring.

A win for 3D thermal ranging. Owl Autonomous Imaging took second place in the Deep Tech track at the 2021 SPIE Startup Challenge. (Watch their winning pitch here.)

Envisioning the future of chronic disease prevention. Think Biosolution was the overall winner of the C-Voucher Prize for Circular Business Cases. The C-Voucher project will increase the product life of Think Bio’s QuasaR device from two to four years, among other benefits.


Growing a Family at Sydor Optics

Sydor Optics carved out a niche in ultra precision flat optics and grew from a father-son operation to employing nearly 90 people. Program Manager, Matt Sydor, shares how happiness is a core value at Sydor, and his vision for the future of his family’s business. Hear his thoughts on Rochester, NY — “the Mecca of optics” — and the cutting-edge technology emerging from it, plus his advice for those considering careers in optics. Watch the video interview, or listen on Spotify or iTunes.

Five Things You Need to Create a Highly Successful Startup

Luminate’s Managing Director, Dr. Sujatha Ramanujan, was interviewed for Authority Magazine’s series on what it takes to find startup success. Sujatha speaks to the qualities that are instrumental for successful leaders, where she gets her drive, the questions she would ask a young founder looking to fundraise, and the most common mistakes she sees from startups.

“Arrogance sinks ships. Arrogant leaders cannot surround themselves with confident and competent people, nor can they take advice. A successful business demands they do both.”

Read the full interview for Sujatha’s advice.


See You at SPIE Optics + Photonics

The first in-person event of the year for the optics and photonics community is coming up in San Diego, and Luminate will be there. Visit us at booth #110! Register and plan your week here.

But first… SPIE Photonics for Quantum

Noel Goddard, founder of cohort 4 startup, Qunnect, is speaking on kick-off day, July 12. Register for the virtual conference here.

Save the Date for Luminate Finals 2021

We’ll be celebrating cohort 4 and awarding follow-on investments on Thursday, September 30 from 10:30 AM to 12:00 PM EST. Registration details to come.

See You Next Month!