Luminate Winners Announced


Double Helix Optics Wins $ 1 Million Top Prize; Three Additional Visionary Optics, Photonics, and Imaging Companies Secure Follow-On Funding Investment

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

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced Double Helix Optics as the winner of the first round of the groundbreaking Luminate NY competition. The Boulder, Colorado-based company received top honors at Luminate NY’s inaugural “Light Tomorrow with Today” Demo Day competition, held in the main tent at the Xerox International Jazz Festival in Downtown Rochester. The company will receive $1 million in follow-on funding from New York State through the Finger Lakes Forward Upstate Revitalization Initiative and, as required by the award, Double Helix will commit to establishing operations in Rochester for at least the next 18 months. 

“Strategic investments in OPI-enabled technologies continue to bolster the Finger Lakes region’s reputation as the imaging capital of the world,” Governor Cuomo said. “The innovations and commitments demonstrated through the Luminate NY competition further prove the vast potential of this industry and its ability to support the regional economy for years to come.”

“We’re committed to investing in growing high-tech companies that are making advancements in the photonics industry,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “The Luminate NY competition is providing funding to promising businesses that are part of our growing innovation economy, helping to create good paying jobs across the Finger Lakes region and the entire State of New York.”

Double Helix Optics garnered the grand prize for its Light Engineering technology. As 3D information is increasingly incorporated into real-world applications, a major challenge has been integrating depth information with increased resolution. The company’s technology overcomes these limitations, providing improvement in depth resolution where current technologies fail. Its SPINDLE, 3D Nano-imaging module, seamlessly integrates with existing microscopes, cameras, and other optical instruments to turn 2D imaging into 3D information capture.

Intelon Optics Inc. was awarded the second-place prize of $500,000 for their Brillouin Optical Scanner System (BOSS), which uses laser light to measure the biomechanics, or stiffness, of tissues inside the body. Positive Science was named third place winner securing, $250,000 for their head-mounted eye tracking and behavioral analysis systems. Fourth place was awarded to Think Biosolution, who received $250,000 for their wearable devices and software platforms using QuasaR technology to measures the users’ heart rate, respiratory rate, blood oxygen saturation, heart rate variability, temperature, movement and location. 

Investments today were presented after a panel of judges from the OPI industry and venture capitalist community scored Luminate NY companies based on their business pitches. The more than 600 attendees at the event also had an opportunity to vote for their favorite company. The Audience Choice award for $10,000 went to Molecular Glasses, Inc. for their creation of a new class of materials capable of reducing power consumption in mobile applications, providing higher display resolution, and reducing costs by enabling lower-cost manufacturing processes. 

Luminate NY, which is administered by NextCorps, is the world’s largest business accelerator for startup firms in the optics, photonics and imaging OPI industries. The accelerator, located in Rochester, selects ten promising companies each year and provides comprehensive training and resources to advance their technologies and businesses. Applications are now being accepted for Round II of the forward-thinking competition through Sept. 24, 2018. Companies earning one of the ten available slots in the next cohort will receive a minimum investment of $100,000 and major investments of up to $1 million. 

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “Luminate NY is accelerating early-stage companies and helping them turn into burgeoning businesses that are poised to advance and transform capabilities in optics, photonics and imaging. The success of these firms will bolster the fast-growing industry cluster in the Finger Lakes, while leading to new jobs and strengthening Upstate New York’s economy. 

Dr. Sujatha Ramanujan, Managing Director, Luminate NY said, “Luminate NY is at the forefront of promoting entrepreneurial endeavors to further grow the Finger Lakes region’s technological and financial ecosystem. The startups today and those that will follow will change how OPI innovations can be applied to solve significant challenges.” 

Leslie Kimerling, Co-founder and CEO of Double Helix said, “We are honored to be selected as the winner amongst such an amazing group of companies. Thank you to Luminate, New York State and Finger Lakes Forward for their support and enabling Double Helix Optics to expand our market reach and build our team.” 

Senator Joe Robach said, “The Rochester region’s reputation as a national leader in optics, photonics and imaging is sure to be enhanced with the addition of the Luminate NY competition and the funding awarded to today’s winners. This investment in our local economy will help promote job growth for our highly skilled workforce, and will solidify our position in advanced technologies and manufacturing.” 

Assembly Majority Leader Joseph D. Morelle said, “Luminate New York is investing in the limitless potential and promise of high-tech entrepreneurs who will further strengthen and propel our region’s growing economy.  These investments will yield the continued creation of secure, good paying jobs in every corner of our region, further strengthen families, and place our community on a more stable footing.” 

Rochester Mayor Lovely A. Warren, who celebrated the achievements by proclaiming June 28, 2018 as “Light Tomorrow with Today” Day, said, “Governor Cuomo’s decision to locate the Luminate accelerator in Rochester is adding to the groundbreaking optics, photonics and imaging solutions that are being developed here. This will accelerate the growth of Rochester’s knowledge economy and our goal to create a more vibrant region, with more jobs and educational opportunities for those who work and live here.” 

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 all of the innovative teams that were selected to take part in round one of the groundbreaking Luminate NY accelerator program in Rochester. This unique competition is helping the region to 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.” 

Luminate NY is building on the region’s historically strong OPI sector, including the new U.S. Department of Defense-led American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics, which is supported by a $250 million commitment from New York State and will be based in Rochester at the state-of-the-art AIM manufacturing facility located in Eastman Business Park. The facility will be used to test, assemble and package chips that use photons in place of electrons for increased performance of semiconductor circuits. First announced by Governor Cuomo and Vice President Joe Biden in July 2015, AIM Photonics will help secure the Finger Lakes region and nation’s leadership position in emerging technology research, development, and manufacturing. 

More information on Luminate NY is available 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 $5.2 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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