2020 SPIE Startup Challenge semifinalists address critical photonics needs

Jan. 24, 2020
On February 4, 2020, during SPIE Photonics West, 42 photonics business startups from 14 countries will participate in the 2020 SPIE Startup Challenge semifinals.

On February 4, 2020, during SPIE Photonics West, 42 photonics business startups from 14 countries will participate in the 2020 SPIE Startup Challenge semifinals. Then, on February 5th, 12 finalists will compete for cash prizes from Jenoptik (Jena, Germany) as well as for business support from Challenge partners and sponsors. Prizes include $10,000 for first place as well as $5000 in products from Edmund Optics (Barrington, NJ); $5000 for second place; and $2500 for third place. In addition, Early Stage Entrepreneurship Travel Grants have been awarded to three of the semifinalists.

Now in its 10th year, the SPIE Startup Challenge showcases new businesses, products, and technologies that serve much-needed areas in photonics, and is enabled by Founding Partner Jenoptik; Strategic Partner LDV Capital (Mountain View, CA); Lead Sponsors Edmund Optics, MKS Instruments (Andover, MA), Hamamatsu (Bridgewater, NJ), and B&W Tek (Newark, DE) CEO Sean Wang; and Supporting Sponsors the National Science Foundation (Alexandria, VA) and the Luminate Accelerator (Rochester, NY). Judges include venture capitalists and business-development experts who vet the applicants for their business case, financial case, and competitive advantages. Transformational innovations for 2020 include neurologic therapies, single-cell imaging and printing, drug discovery, rapid cancer detection, advanced manufacturing, quantum computing, and hostile-environment communications. 

Both the semifinals and finals of this exciting pitching competition are open to anyone with a free Photonics West exhibition registration. Semifinalists will also be demonstrating their products throughout the day on February 4th as part of the SPIE Venture Summit.

The semifinalists will cover four tracks: Pre-Seed Stage, Healthcare; Pre-Seed Stage, Deep Tech; Seed Stage, Healthcare; and Seed Stage, Deep Tech. The full list of semifinalists follows here (with descriptions of their entries in their own words):

Pre-Seed Stage, Healthcare


BioPixS aims to save in millions by reducing unnecessary clinical trials and ethical approval process, nurturing a new era in biophotonics standards.

Sanathana Konugolu Venkata Sekar


Conzeb Limited

Conzeb develops ultrafast optical imaging technologies aimed at revolutionizing single-cell imaging assay for cancer screening and drug discovery.

Andy K. S. Lau


diapatch – a noninvasive, wearable patch that allows for better detection of high-risk biomarkers, leading to malignant gynecologic cancer health.

Eydis Lima


Digiteyez Technologies LLC

The future of global eyecare.

Brandon Zimmerman


Harmonigenic Corporation

OPTIM (Optical Prediction of Time Interval to Metastasis) will predict cancer recurrence, optimal Rx, and personalized outcomes from the initial biopsy.

Robert Hill


Kilo Medical Solutions

Brise-Solette is a system that attaches to incubators in the NICU and controls the light environment to improve health outcomes for premature infants.

Kashyap Venuthurupalli & Joshna Seelam

LASE Innovation

Commercializing nano- to micron-sized particle lasers with billions of spectral barcodes for massively multiplexed tagging and imaging of single cells.

Sheldon Kwok


McFocal Bioimaging

McFocal Bioimaging offers a multiplexing confocal fluroescence lifetime imaging microscope for drug discovery as well as precision medicine.

Qiyin Fang


Odin Technologies, LLC

Odin is developing a wearable diagnostic that assesses extremity hemodynamics, allowing caregivers to identify perfusion injuries and complications.

Steven Hansen


PediaMetrix Inc

PediaMetrix enables parents to detect, monitor, and treat Flat Head Syndrome at the point of care using patented AI-enabled mobile application.

Fereshteh Aalamifar


Summit Biomedical Imaging

Targeted Cancer Diagnostics

Andrew Riley


Pre-Seed Stage, Deep Tech


We sell a new way to produce bio-inspired antireflective glass with the use of laser light. We bring nature's ingenuity on surface engineering.

Emmanuel Stratakis


Devali Inc

On a mission to save lives, Devali's Oumen Industrial recognizes pre-symptomatic heatstroke, gas exposure, and more from the comfort of a work boot.

Irene Brinker


Kosmik Energy, Inc.

We are focusing the sun’s rays into optical fiber to enable an increase in yield while mitigating production cost in vertical farming systems.

Ricardo Ramirez



AI-automated, non-contact, single-cell micromanipulation system that is accessible to every biologist in the world.

Rich Zapata Rosas


Momentum Optics

Affordable custom optics. Rapidly delivered.

Jeremy Goeckeritz


Nanograss Photonics

We reduce cost-per-bit of information for hyperscale datacenters by leveraging our opto-plasmonic technology for communications beyond 5G.

Pouya Dianat


ORCA Computing

ORCA uses proprietary, optical fiber-based technology as a new approach towards cheaper, more scalable, and reconfigurable quantum computers.

Richard Murray


QLM Technology Ltd

Natural gas leaks are a major source of global greenhouse gas. Quantum gas imagers to see the leaks will help save billions of dollars…and our planet.

Murray Reed



Specto develops next-generation miniaturized spectrometers to measure fundamental mechanical properties for life sciences and sensing applications.

Giuseppe Antonacci


Vyir Inc

Vyir Inc's Optical Infrared Imager will result in the technological and commercial realization of truly low-cost, high-performance infrared cameras.

James Scholtz

Seed Stage, Healthcare

Adiuvo Diagnostics

Noninvasive, label-free detection and classification of pathogens on wounds in real time.

Geethanjali Radhakrishnan


AiDx Medical

A reliable, smart, optical instrument for automated, affordable, field-compatible malaria detection. For quick and high quality malaria screening.

Temitope Agbana


C. Light Technologies, Inc.

C. Light Technologies is an neurotech and AI company that has created a 10-second retinal eye-tracking scan that can objectively assess brain health.

Christy Sheehy


Eysz, Inc.

Leave no seizure undetected.

Rachel Kuperman


iLoF - Intelligent Lab on Fiber

iLoF is enabling a new era of personalized medicine, by providing photonics and AI screening tools for the epidemic of our century: Alzheimer's.

Joana Paiva


OptoGenTech GmbH

In our optical Cochlea Implant, light stimulates neurons of the ear, allowing deaf to hear with a frequency resolution superior to the electrical CI.

Ulrich Schwarz



Advanced laser technology for precise cells printing and regenerative medicine applications.

Ioanna Zergioti



The Rubitect Assessment System (RAS) is an optical skin health and wellness tool for diagnosis and monitoring with an initial application to early pressure ulcer (bedsore) prevention.

Sanna Gaspard


SurgiVance Inc.

SurgiVance aims to provide instant bedside diagnosis of skin cancer indistinguishable from standard pathology.

Daniel Gareau


Seed Stage, Deep Tech

Circle Optics

Hydra is setting a new standard for 360° content capture by making it as easy as a regular point-and-shoot camera.

Madilyn Beckman


Firefly Photonics LLC

Firefly Photonics’ mid-infrared LED microarrays are optimized for thermal scene generation supporting autonomous navigation testing and gas sensing.

Fatima Toor


Labby Inc.

Labby is a data company that is combining optical sensing with AI to help dairy farms become more profitable through real-time milk analysis.

Anshuman Das


Nicslab Pty Ltd

We create Xpow as a compact, scalable, and integrated photonic driver for faster internet.

Andri Mahendra



Optomel enables photonics innovators to grow new markets through our precise, roll-to-roll optical filter technology

Damian Gardiner


Owl Autonomous Imaging Inc.

Owl’s 3D thermal ranging camera operates day and night, in most weather, to classify pedestrians, animals, and vehicles for safe autonomous operation.

Skip Cusack

Monolithic Short-Wave Infrared Focal Plane Array

Making short-wave infrared technologies affordable for commercial machine vision and imaging markets with low-cost imaging arrays.

Matthew Ackerman


High-speed laser transceiver-based LiFi system enables 100,000x faster wireless data communication between underwater and underground devices.

Chao Shen


Senorics GmbH

Senorics builds low-cost, mobile, and robust spectroscopic systems which bring spectroscopy to the B2C mass market  detect. know. decide.

Ronny Timmreck


SpectroClick Inc.

With an easy-to-use portable spectrometer, every person can test and obtain direct results for substances of concern in their home or the environment.

Alexander Scheeline


SurClean Inc.

Precise, safe, and clean surface coating removal and preparation.

Susan Sprentall


Touchless Automation GmbH

Levio is the first contactless die sorter. Contactless pick up, automatic inspection, and sorting. Perfect for MEMS and photonics.

Maurizio Migliore


For more information on the Challenge and to register for SPIE Photonics West 2020, please visit https://spie.org/pw.

Source: SPIE press release  January 16, 2020

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