Empire State Development Announces 10 Finalists Selected to Take Part in Round III of Luminate NY Accelerator Competition

Empire State Development Finger Lakes Forward

$25 Million Luminate NY Initiative is the World’s Largest Accelerator Program for Startups with Optics, Photonics, and Imaging Technologies

OPI Innovation is a Key Part of “Finger Lakes Forward”—the Region’s Comprehensive Strategy to Revitalize Communities and Grow the Economy

Luminate cohort III finalists

Empire State Development (ESD) today announced the 10 companies selected to take part in the Round III of New York State’s Luminate NY accelerator competition in Rochester. The finalists selected include optics, photonics, and imaging startups which were selected after pitching their innovative ideas to an advisory panel comprised of industry experts during the Lightning Awards at the Strong National Museum of Play. Each company will receive an initial investment of $100,000 and will be a part of Luminate’s third cohort, which will begin in January 2020 at the Sibley Building in downtown Rochester. The six-month program will help the selected companies speed the commercialization of their technologies and business. In June, the teams will compete during Demo Day for $2 million in follow-on funding. Funding for the $25 million program is being provided through the Finger Lakes Forward Upstate Revitalization Initiative award and is being administered by NextCorps.

Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-designate Eric Gertler said, “Congratulations to the 10 entrepreneurial companies selected as finalists for Luminate NY’s third cohort. These optics, photonics, and imaging startups will continue to drive innovation and opportunity in the Finger Lakes region and throughout New York State.”

Luminate NY supports innovators as they grow their ideas in Rochester with help from industry experts, businesses, and local universities. The program aims to assist entrepreneurs who are interested in solving challenging industry problems, including, but not limited to: machine vision, inspection, biophotonics, security, surveillance, augmented and virtual reality, and autonomous vehicles.

The 10 selected startups include:

  • Akknatek  Lens Reviewer, optical imaging system
  • ExPrimary: High-performance, low-cost bioanalytical instruments and assay-kit consumables
  • Haqean: On-demand quantum entropy
  • Kilo Medical Solutions: Brise-Solette, light regulation for premature infants in the neonatal ICU
  • PixelDisplay: Nanoparticles, thin-films, LED and Micro-LED designs, and digital controller ICs
  • Rubitection: Rubitect Assessment System (RAS), early bedsore detection and management tools
  • SaNoor: Smart lighting, LiFi, IoT, and underwater optical communications
  • Simulated Inanimate Models: SIM ARTS™, hands-free educational experiences
  • SunDensity: Photonic Smart Coating (PSC) technology
  • Think Outside: SKNOW, digital avalanche safety device

Luminate received interest for Round III from 101 applicants from 25 different countries, including: India, Canada, Australia, Israel, Russia, Singapore, and Spain.  In New York, 15 startups applied, with the remaining coming from U.S. cities including Austin, Berkeley, Boston, Los Angeles, and Orlando. A total of 22 startups competed for the 10 available spots.

Luminate NY Managing Director Sujatha Ramanujan said, “The caliber of the startups and technologies for Cohort III is very strong. Our OPI ecosystem in the Finger Lakes will provide a distinct advantage for these businesses as they work to speed their innovations to market.”

Round I winner, Double Helix Optics, has actively leveraged the optics infrastructure in the Finger Lakes region. It has partnered with Rochester optics firms to develop and manufacture new products and has collaborated with the Ithaca/Cornell community to advance the fabrication of its proprietary phase mask technology. Ovitz, winner of Round II, has expanded its office and talent in Rochester. The company has developed a system for individualized, vision-enhancing contact lenses to significantly improve people’s vision quality.

Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chairs, Monroe Community College President Anne Kress, and Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bob Duffy said, “Congratulations to these innovative teams on their selection to take part in the third round of the groundbreaking Luminate NY accelerator program in Rochester. This unique competition is helping the region further establish itself as a global leader in the burgeoning light-based products and services industry, helping to move the Finger Lakes forward for years to come.”

State Senator Joe Robach said, “Congratulations to the 10 finalists for Round III of New York’s Luminate NY accelerator competition. The Rochester region has a long and rich history in optics, photonics, and imaging and has been a sustained leader in these fields for generations. I am certain that the combination of our local knowledge and the creativity behind these start-ups will lead to success in the future!”

Assembly Member Harry Bronson said, “This innovative program provides the funding for the entrepreneurial spirit that is needed for the future creative projects that will provide the future of job and economic growth for our state and nation. I know that this next round of funding will provide for great ideas that will help build a brighter future for our families.”

Mayor Lovely A. Warren said, “The City of Rochester has long been the optics and imaging capital of the United States. Next generation optics, imaging, and photonics will play a vital role in our economy and in the innovative technologies and tools of our future—including augmented and virtual reality, autonomous vehicles, machine vision, and biophotonic devices—with Luminate, the State of New York, and the City of Rochester championing and remaining at the forefront of these emerging developments. Congratulations to the 10 companies selected to advance in this completion.”

For additional information about the Luminate NY accelerator, click here.

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 State has already invested more than $6.1 billion in the region since 2012 to lay the groundwork for the plan—investing in key industries including photonics, agriculture‎ and food production, and advanced manufacturing. Today, unemployment is down to the lowest levels since before the Great Recession; personal and corporate income taxes are down; and businesses are choosing places like Rochester, Batavia, and Canandaigua as a destination to grow and invest in.

Now, the region is accelerating Finger Lakes Forward with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, announced by Governor Cuomo in December 2015. 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.


Shari Voorhees-Vincent | Shari.Voorhees-Vincent@esd.ny.gov | (585) 399-7055
Press Office | pressoffice@esd.ny.gov | (800) 260-7313

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