Governor Cuomo Announces $15 Million in Funding for the Luminate NY Accelerator Competition in Rochester

Additional Backing Will Support Three More Rounds of Innovative Optics, Photonics and Imaging Competition

Investment Complements “Finger Lakes Forward” – The Region’s Comprehensive Strategy to Revitalize Communities and Grow the Economy

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $15 million in additional funding is being made available to support three more rounds of the Luminate NY business accelerator competition in the City of Rochester. The innovative competition focuses on the optics, photonics and imaging industry and is administered by NextCorps, located at Sibley Square in Rochester’s Downtown Innovation Zone. Luminate NY supports selected 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. Funding for the Luminate NY program is being provided through the transformative Finger Lakes Forward Upstate Revitalization Initiative.

“The Luminate NY accelerator is further cementing the region’s reputation as an imaging and optics epicenter for the entire country,” Governor Cuomo said. “Strategic investments in this emerging industry will foster new business growth and create top-notch job opportunities for the region’s highly skilled workforce as we continue to move the Finger Lakes forward.”

“Luminate NY is helping innovative companies and advancing technologies in Rochester and beyond,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “This additional funding for the competition will further support businesses and grow the high-tech industry, creating more jobs and boosting the economy in the area. We are committed to continuing our investments in the photonics industry and moving the Finger Lakes Forward.”

The second round of the Luminate NY accelerator competition began in January. The ten finalists selected received an initial investment of $100,000 and are currently immersed in a six-month program to assist the companies with their businesses and accelerate their technology commercialization. The teams will then compete on Demo Day on June 27, 2019 for over $2 million in follow-up funding. Companies must also commit to establishing operations in Rochester for at least 18 months.

Luminate NY round one winner, Colorado-based Double Helix Optics, received the grand prize for its Light Engineering technology. Its SPINDLE 3D nanoimaging module seamlessly integrates with existing microscopes, cameras, and other optical instruments to make 3D super-resolution imaging and tracking accessible and affordable. This is advancing capabilities in biological and biomedical research and drug discovery.

Dr. Sujatha Ramanujan, Managing Director, Luminate NY said, “Luminate provides the early-stage funding, expertise and mentoring that startups need to bring emerging technologies to market. Extending Luminate’s funding and availability will only increase the caliber of companies that come to Rochester to advance what’s possible in the fields of optics, photonics and imaging.”

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “Three more rounds of Luminate NY will continue the entrepreneurship this competition is driving in the photonics industry with innovative ideas, jobs and educational opportunities that are benefiting the Finger Lakes region and New York State.”

Luminate NY builds on the U.S. Department of Defense-led American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics, which is supported by a $250 million commitment from New York and is based in Rochester at the state-of-the-art AIM manufacturing facility located in On Semiconductor at Eastman Business Park. First announced by Governor Cuomo and Vice President Joe Biden in July 2015, AIM Photonics will help to further secure the Finger Lakes region and nation’s leadership position in emerging technology research, development, and manufacturing. The Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council has also established the $30 Million Photonics Attraction Fund which aims to attract integrated photonics companies to set up manufacturing operations in the greater Rochester area.

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, “Many Thanks to Governor Cuomo for recognizing the incredible value of this OPI competition to the region’s future. The Luminate NY accelerator and the Photonics Attraction Fund are working to further establish the region as a global leader in the burgeoning light-based products and services industry which we believe will help move the Finger Lakes forward for years to come.”

Congressman Joseph D. Morelle said, “This additional funding for Luminate will help to further cement the Finger Lakes region’s place as a world-leader in the high-tech optics, photonics, and imaging cluster. I am grateful to Governor Cuomo for his continued investment in innovative technologies that will create new, good-paying jobs and bolster our regional economy.”

Senator Joe Robach said, “Luminate NY has added to our region’s reputation as a leader in optics, photonics and imaging since its inaugural competition in 2018. The funding provided by Luminate NY is critical to the growing companies that it invests in and has helped promote job growth for our skilled workforce. As a member of the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council, I am proud to see this investment being made to a critical sector of our local economy.”

Assembly Member Harry Bronson said, “I am pleased to see the Governor’s announcement of Luminate New York Optics funding. This innovative program provides the funding for the entrepreneurial spirit that is needed for the creative projects that will provide the next generation of jobs and economic growth for our state and nation. I know that this next round of funding will provide great ideas that will help build a brighter future for our families.”

Rochester Mayor Lovely A. Warren said, “The incredible progress underway at Luminate NY clearly demonstrates the wisdom of Governor Cuomo’s decision to locate this high-tech business incubator in Rochester and position our region as the photonics and optics capital of the world. Luminate NY gives business leaders a platform to bring their innovative ideas to the marketplace, which accelerates the growth of Rochester’s knowledge economy. Governor Cuomo and Empire State Development’s continued support of this program is truly an investment in our entire city, helping us achieve our goals of creating more jobs, safer, more vibrant neighborhoods and better educational opportunities for our residents.”

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.

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