New York State launches startup accelerator for optics, photonics, and imaging

July 11, 2017
The Luminate accelerator has officially launched with its new name and website, and is now accepting expressions of interest.

The Luminate accelerator, a $5 million per year initiative in New York State, has officially launched with its new name and website, and is now accepting expressions of interest from startup companies, mentors, VCs, and corporate partners. A national advisory board is being assembled and a managing director is being hired, with a goal of opening the startup application window in late July. Teams will be competing for one of ten available slots in the first cohort, guaranteeing them a minimum investment of $100,000, and potentially as much as $1 million.

In January 2017, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo and Empire State Development announced the creation of this new startup accelerator program for optics, photonics, and imaging (OPI) enabled companies. Previously known as the Photonics Venture Challenge, the accelerator is managed by High Tech Rochester (HTR), a non-profit whose mission is to help tech entrepreneurs launch successful companies, and to help established businesses increase revenues and profits. James Senall, president of HTR, says that the Luminate accelerator “seeks visionary entrepreneurs solving challenging problems including but not limited to machine vision, inspection, biophotonics, security, surveillance, augmented and virtual reality, and autonomous vehicles.”

Luminate applicants must be incorporated, have a full-time team, should have proven their core technology, and preferably developed a working prototype. Once admitted, companies will receive assistance with capital and a community of resources. Each member of the cohort will receive a $100,000 initial convertible note investment, with a chance to receive a portion of an additional $2 million of funding that will be invested at “demo day” following the rigorous 6-month program. The top investment is expected to be $1 million.

“High Tech Rochester has been in the business of growing startup companies for 30 years, and our programs and facilities have evolved over time to rival the top accelerator programs in the country. The timing of the launch of the Luminate accelerator couldn’t be better, as we will be opening our brand new downtown location at the Sibley building just as our first Luminate cohort kicks off,” says Senall.

For those interested in getting involved with the accelerator, either as a startup, mentor, corporate or venture partner, visit the Luminate website:

Source: High Tech Rochester

About the Author

Conard Holton | Editor at Large

Conard Holton has 25 years of science and technology editing and writing experience. He was formerly a staff member and consultant for government agencies such as the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the International Atomic Energy Agency, and engineering companies such as Bechtel. He joined Laser Focus World in 1997 as senior editor, becoming editor in chief of WDM Solutions, which he founded in 1999. In 2003 he joined Vision Systems Design as editor in chief, while continuing as contributing editor at Laser Focus World. Conard became editor in chief of Laser Focus World in August 2011, a role in which he served through August 2018. He then served as Editor at Large for Laser Focus World and Co-Chair of the Lasers & Photonics Marketplace Seminar from August 2018 through January 2022. He received his B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, with additional studies at the Colorado School of Mines and Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

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