Luminate: The World’s Largest Start-up Accelerator for Optics, Photonics and Imaging Technologies
- Sujatha Ramanujan named Managing Director
- Advisory Board of Industry Leaders Named
- “Finger Lakes Forward” Investment Advances the Region’s Successful Strategic Plan to Grow the Economy and Create New Opportunities
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the application window is open for Luminate NY, the world’s largest business accelerator for startup firms in the optics, photonics and imaging industries, in Rochester. The Luminate NY initiative, which is being administered by High Tech Rochester, is focused on attracting and growing the most promising optics and photonics companies from across the state, the nation, and around the globe. Funding for the $10 million program is being provided through the Finger Lakes Forward Upstate Revitalization Initiative award.
“New York’s strategic investments have positioned Rochester as a global leader in the photonics industry, and through this innovative program, I look forward to supporting the growth of new businesses across the region,” Governor Cuomo said. “By fostering innovation and supporting the growth of new photonics companies, Luminate NY is leveraging the region’s strong economy to continue to move the Finger Lakes forward.”
Applications are now being accepted through September 15 on a rolling acceptance basis. Teams are encouraged to submit applications as early as possible for the best chance of being chosen for the program. Luminate NY applications are available here.
Luminate NY is looking for entrepreneurs interested in solving challenging optics, photonics and imaging problems, including but not limited to: machine vision, inspection, biophotonics, security, surveillance, augmented and virtual reality, and autonomous vehicles. Teams will be competing for one of ten available slots in the first cohort, guaranteeing them a minimum investment of $100,000 and major investments of up to $1 million.
Luminate NY applicants must be incorporated, have a full-time team and should have proven their core technology, preferably having developed a working prototype. Once admitted, companies will receive assistance with capital and a community of resources. Each member will receive a $100,000 initial convertible note investment, with a chance for follow-on funding at the end of the rigorous six month entrepreneurship training program, expected to total $2 million.
Jim Senall, High Tech Rochester President said, “Since announcing this new program just a short while ago, we are amazed by the amount of interest from the industry. We now have a world-class national advisory board in place, and a new Managing Director hired to run the program. We now really look forward to reviewing program applications and selecting our first cohort of teams.”
Additionally, Dr. Sujatha Ramanujan has been hired to serve as Managing Director for the Luminate NY initiative, following a national search for the position. A serial entrepreneur and seasoned executive with 25 years of experience in Clinical Devices and in Consumer Electronics, Dr. Ramanujan has established, developed and grown three start-up businesses in cardiac surgical equipment, optical communications and nano materials. Dr. Ramanujan also holds 28 issued US patents. As a corporate investor for Kodak, Dr. Ramanujan provides guidance to start-ups, M&A strategies for growing businesses, and vetting of technologies to investors. She has also served on investment advisories in the U.S., Canada and Israel.
The Luminate NY Advisory Board is comprised of a who’s who of optics, photonics and imaging industry leaders. Nearly every one of these people have been speakers at the New York Photonics Annual Meeting in the past ten years as New York Photonics has spearheaded the promotion of the region’s OPI Industry:
- Eugene Arthurs – CEO SPIE
- Milton Chang – Managing Director, Incubic Management
- Stuart Elby – SVP, Data Center Business Group, Infinera
- Steve Fantone – Founder & President, Optikos Corporation
- Mike Foley – Managing Director, Artemis Capital Partners, L.P.
- Don Golini – Founder, QED Technologies
- Jay Kumler – President, Jenoptik Optical Systems
- Michael Liehr – CEO AIM Photonics
- Duncan Moore – Vice Provost for Entrepreneurship at University of Rochester
- Ryne Raffaelle – Vice President for Research and Associate Provost at Rochester Institute of Technology
- Darius Sankey – General Partner, Sway Ventures
- Jim Senall – President, High Tech Rochester
Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “The Luminate NY accelerator initiative is already attracting innovative optics, photonics and imaging industry leaders and entrepreneurs. By providing them with the support needed to harness their pioneering ideas, we are helping the Finger Lakes region move forward.”
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