Announcing the Photonics Venture Challenge

James Senall, president of High Tech Rochester, released the following statement in response to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State Address proposal:

I want to express my deepest gratitude to Governor Andrew Cuomo for his support of the Photonics Venture Challenge.

The Finger Lakes region of New York State is the nation’s preeminent industrial center in the field of optics, photonics, and imaging. The Photonics Venture Challenge will leverage the region’s assets – including AIM Photonics, Eastman Business Park, the Rochester Downtown Innovation Zone, top research universities, and an established industry cluster – to establish Rochester as a global hub for innovation and growth in a field of technology that has transformative implications for energy, manufacturing, health care, telecommunication, environmental monitoring, consumer electronics, homeland security, and aerospace industries.

The Photonics Venture Challenge – which has been identified as a priority project by the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council – will consist of a large-scale annual start-up competition based at High Tech Rochester’s Business Accelerator in the Sibley Building that will attract high-growth potential companies to the region and foster the growth of companies and technologies developed here in the Finger Lakes.

Start-up companies from across the globe will compete for 10 to 15 slots. Once selected, companies will receive an initial investment and will participate in an intensive 4-6 month business accelerator program. At the end of each session, three of the most promising companies in the program will compete for “best in class” investments ranging from $500,000 to $1 million. The Photonics Venture Challenge will be the largest startup accelerator and competition in the world that focuses on growth in this emerging field of technology.

Again, we are grateful for Governor’s Cuomo’s support for this program and look forward to working with New York State and the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council to launch this important initiative.

High Tech Rochester is an affiliate of the University of Rochester and is the region’s only state- and federally-designated incubator that provides the comprehensive array of support services, resources, and space necessary to foster the growth of high tech start-up companies.  

For media inquiries, contact James Senall at

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