$25 Million Luminate NY Initiative Continues to Bring the Best Startups with Optics, Photonics, and Imaging Technologies to the Finger Lakes Region to Tap World Class Resources and Grow the Economy
The Competition is Supported by “Finger Lakes Forward” – The Region’s Comprehensive Strategy to Revitalize Communities and Grow the Economy
ROCHESTER, N.Y., March 23, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Empire State Development (ESD) today announced the 10 companies selected to take part in the fifth round of the Luminate NY accelerator program, investment fund, and competition. A total of 130 applications were received for consideration to participate in the world’s largest accelerator for startups working on emerging solutions that are enabled by optics, photonics, and imaging (OPI). Fifty percent of the applications came from 24 countries with the remaining 50 percent from U.S. states. Earlier this month, Governor Kathy Hochul announced a proposed, four-year, $20 million commitment to continue the successful, globally renowned competition as part of her $216 billion, FY2023 budget proposal currently awaiting approval by the New York state legislature.
The companies were selected after pitching their innovative ideas to an advisory panel comprised of industry experts. Each finalist will receive an initial investment of $100,000 and will have the chance to compete for up to $2 million in follow-on funding upon completion of the accelerator program. Cohort 5 will begin on April 11, 2022. The six-month program will help the companies speed the commercialization of their technologies and businesses. Funding for the $25 million program, which was created and run by NextCorps, is provided through the Finger Lakes Forward Upstate Revitalization Initiative — the region’s comprehensive strategy to revitalize communities and foster economic growth.
Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-designate Hope Knight said, “I want to offer my congratulations to the 10 entrepreneurial companies selected as finalists for Luminate NY’s fifth cohort. The cutting-edge ideas from these optics, photonics and imaging startups will help to drive innovation and opportunity in the Finger Lakes Region and throughout New York State.”
Luminate NY supports innovators as they further develop their technologies in Rochester with help from industry experts, local universities, and the vast OPI resources that are offered by businesses throughout the Finger Lakes region. Cohort 5 is solving challenges within a number of industries, including, but not limited to: quantum computing and technology, healthcare, clean energy, agtech, advanced imaging, artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicles.
The 10 selected startups include:
- Alertgy — patented wearable wristband platform with the first application providing affordable, effective, and noninvasive continuous glucose monitoring for existing and pre diabetics, and health-conscious people
- Axion Technologies — patented technique for scrambling light to provide quantum random numbers, which can be used in computing applications to protect data and expand the usefulness of data simulations, enabling more secure networking
- Custom Surgical — optical systems and software that digitize medical microscopes or slit-lamps, allowing for the seamless capture, storage, and broadcasting of high-quality medical imaging, without blocking the binoculars
- LIDROTEC — patent pending wafer dicing laser machines for the semiconductor industry that enable thinner cuts with a 0 percent damage rate
- LightSpeedAI Labs — optoelectronic interconnects and lego-like processors that will address the need for increased, real-time processing of data bandwidth-intensive applications like video streaming, AI, cybersecurity, and smartNIC at low-power
- MEETOPTICS — A specialized photonics search hub that enables researchers and engineers to find and compare products and technologies from trusted suppliers in minutes instead of weeks
- QD Solar — low-cost, lightweight, flexible, high-power density solar sheet that offers efficiency well beyond that of silicon solar
- Quantopticon — automation software tools supporting the rapid cost-effective development of high-quality, peak-performing quantum photonic devices, which are key to the emerging quantum technology industry
- SCOUT — on-orbit imaging systems and autonomy software for automated detection, tracking, and characterization of space objects and orbital debris
- Stratio — AI-assisted visible and infrared imaging solutions for Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS), medical imaging, precision farming, forensic, and food/plastic sorting
One additional company, EmGenisys—which won $250,000 in the 2021 Grow-NY competition—will take part in Luminate NY out of the finalist structure to gain access to regional resources. Opto Biolabs and SynchroPET will be auditing the program to help prepare and advance their businesses for applying to accelerator programs in the future.
Luminate NY Managing Director Sujatha Ramanujan said, “Earning a spot in Luminate NY is becoming more competitive each year as the caliber of the teams and the originality of their inventions increases. With access to our renowned regional resources, mentors, and investor network, Luminate NY help these industry-changing technologies enter the market much faster to bring new capabilities and possibilities to multiple industries.”
Since its inception, Luminate has invested $12 million in 43 startups. The companies in the portfolio have raised an additional $80.8 million and have a combined valuation of approximately $360 million. Many of the companies are establishing U.S. operations or some aspect of research and manufacturing in the Rochester region—which continues to be the epicenter of the OPI industry in North America. This has resulted in the creation of 103 new jobs in the region.
State Senator Jeremy Cooney said, “I am pleased to congratulate the ten finalists selected for Round 5 of Luminate NY. Their work, ranging from health to cybersecurity to environmental conservation, will benefit our community in essential ways. I look forward to the development of all companies involved with the Luminate NY accelerator program and appreciate your contribution to our economic growth. Thank you to Empire State Development for supporting the mission of Finger Lakes Forward by making these opportunities possible.”
Assembly Member Harry Bronson said, “The Luminate NY Accelerator Program attracts the most creative and dynamic light technology startups from across the globe. This year’s finalists represent another round of entrepreneurs that will advance our optics, photonics and imaging industries. Their ingenuity and inventiveness will continue to bring job opportunities and investment to our region. We must meet their vision and successes with equitable workforce development programs that not only support our emerging and expanding industries but also provide career pathways for all members of our community.”
Monroe County Executive Adam Bello said, “Congratulations to all the teams advancing in the Luminate NY accelerator program which are leading our region’s photonics and imaging industry. No matter who ultimately wins, you should all be proud that you’re continuing the legacy of innovation and entrepreneurship that our region is known for.”
City of Rochester Mayor Malik Evans said, “Luminate NY’s ability to attract 130 high-quality applications from 25 countries is a testament to the growing prominence of Rochester’s knowledge economy and our recognition as the imaging, optics and photonics capital of the world, I am pleased to welcome these incredible innovators to our city and wish them luck in this exciting accelerator program. I also want to thank Governor Hochul and Empire State Development for bringing these 21st-century companies to Rochester through Finger Lakes Forward and helping us deliver economic empowerment and a prosperous future to our residents.”
Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chairs, Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bob Duffy and SUNY Geneseo President Denise Battles said, “We would like to offer our congratulations to the innovative teams selected to take part in the fifth round of the groundbreaking Luminate NY accelerator program. These forward-thinking entrepreneurs are helping to further bolster the optics, photonics, and imaging industry throughout the region as it continues to establish itself as the global leader in the light-based products and services industry. We are really looking forward to learning all about their next generation ideas.”
Accelerating Finger Lakes Forward
Today’s announcement complements “Finger Lakes Forward,” the region’s comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The regionally designed plan focuses on investing in key industries including photonics, agriculture and food production, and advanced manufacturing. Now, the region is accelerating Finger Lakes Forward with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative. The State’s $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion – and the region’s plan, as submitted, projects up to 8,200 new jobs. More information is available here.
About Empire State Development
Empire State Development (ESD) is New York’s chief economic development agency (www.esd.ny.gov). The mission of ESD is to promote a vigorous and growing economy, encourage the creation of new job and economic opportunities, increase revenues to the State and its municipalities, and achieve stable and diversified local economies. Through the use of loans, grants, tax credits and other forms of financial assistance, ESD strives to enhance private business investment and growth to spur job creation and support prosperous communities across New York State. ESD is also the primary administrative agency overseeing the Regional Economic Development Councils and the marketing of “I LOVE NEW YORK,” the State’s iconic tourism brand. For more information on Regional Councils and Empire State Development, visit www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov and www.esd.ny.gov.