Luminate (a program of Nextcorps) announced the 10 companies selected to take part in the second cohort of New York State’s Luminate NY accelerator competition in Rochester. The finalists selected include optics, photonics and imaging start-ups who were selected after pitching their innovative ideas to an advisory panel comprised of industry experts at the Luminate NY Lighting Awards at the Dryden Theatre at the George Eastman House. Each company will receive an initial investment of $100,000 and will be a part of the initiative’s second cohort, which will launch in January 2019 at the newly renovated Sibley Building in downtown Rochester. The 6-month program will assist the selected companies with their ideas to accelerate commercialization. The teams will then compete on Demo Day in June, where they will vie for over $2 million in follow-on funding.

The Luminate NY initiative supports the 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.

The competition received interest from more than 70 applicants from around the world including companies in Sweden, India, Canada, Australia, Russia, Israel, Portugal, China, Netherlands and New Zealand. Sixteen companies from New York State applied, with the remaining coming from U.S. cities including, Boston, San Francisco, Orlando, San Jose, Indianapolis, New Orleans, Fort Collins, Santa Clara, St. Louis, Durham, Columbus, Chicago, Providence, and Philadelphia.


Luminate 2019 cohort with judges at the George Eastman Museum following the Lightning Rounds


The selected companies:

Augmentiqs –  Misgav, Israel

Gabe Siegel, CEO

Product: Augmented Reality of the Microscope

Augmentiqs is a technology that evolutionizes the microscope, trans- forming it into a smart and connected device. Causing no distortion of optical quality, Augmentiqs retrofits into existing microscopes, facilitating augmented reality within the eyepiece and live image capture of the slide sample. Acting as a platform for the running of software applications within the microscope, Augmentiqs is currently being used by pathology labs for real-time consultations, workflow enhancement and AI development, and aims to play a key role in all fields of digital microscopy.


Circle Optics  – New York, NY

Zak Niazi, CEO

Product: Stitch-Free 360° Camera

Circle Optics has developed the world’s first parallax free 360°camera that solves the problem of stitching. One minute of footage can take up to 7 hours for the computer to stitch and costs $1,000 to $10,000 for an expert to correct the stitching errors. Circle Optics has elimi- nated the need to stitch, completely, with its unique optical solution that instantly captures a perfect 360° representation of a scene. Applications include virtual reality, autonomous robots, mapping, and surveillance.


Kura Tech – San Francisco, CA

Kelly Peng, CEO

Product: Wide FOV AR optics/display

Kura is building revolutionary augmented reality glasses with core tech as a customized optical and display system. This system is able to provide a 135-degree field of view with a compact micro-display, which is 3x the field of view of conventional waveguide optics.



Lumedica Vision – Durham, NC

Geoffrey Metcalf, CEO

Product: Ophthalmology Instrument

Lumedica creates affordable light-based scientific and medical instruments that deliver accurate diagnostic results. Leveraging off- the-shelf and custom imaging components, Lumedica is able to make diagnostic devices cheaper, more durable, and easier to disseminate. Their first initiative is building a novel, patented device to admin- ister OCT (Optical Coherence Tomography) technology — the gold standard for retinal imaging — to detect chronic, asymptomatic eye diseases.


Mango teQ LTD – Auckland, New Zealand

Kal Gwalani, CEO

Product: Reyedr, advanced holographic HUD for helmets

Mango teQ is developing frontier technology for AR hardware. Their initial focus is retrofit Heads-Up Displays (HUD) to fit onto helmets. They also plan to integrate their technology into Smart helmets. REYEDR addresses a multi-billion dollar problem, letting motorcy- clists keep their eyes on the road. The risk of serious harm is 21 times higher for motorcyclists than for drivers of cars. Bikers need to keep their eyes on the road as any distraction, even glancing down at the dashboard, GPS or mobile phone can be fatal. REYEDR is a true HUD and utilizes the latest holographic technology to display information at infinite focus, in the line of sight. REYEDR will replace dashboards on motorcycles as the main User Interface.


Neurescence – Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Dr. Yasaman Soudagar, Founder and CEO

Product: Fluorescence microscope with data collection software

Currently there are no treatments for neurological disorders, because the mechanism of healthy brain vs. diseased brain is not known. By enabling functional imaging of the Central Nervous System in the level of neuronal micro-circuits, Neurescence addresses this problem and targets three significant markets: neuroscientists doing funda- mental brain research to help them understand how the brain works, the drug development industry to help determine the effect of their compounds on brain circuits and predict if the drug will fail in human trials, and as a pre-surgical assessment tool to help neurosurgeons determine where in the brain to operate.


Opalux – Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Dr. Andre Arsenault, CTO

Product: Anti-Counterfeiting Security Features for Passports and Identification Documents

Passports, driving licenses, and identification cards protect a coun- try’s borders and citizens against identity fraud and illegal crime. And yet, most of these identification documents are protected by generic holograms that are easily counterfeited. Opalux’s MyImageTM embeds a person’s portrait and data into a color-shifting security feature that is virtually impossible to counterfeit, while being easy to verify with- out tools. Opalux is partnered with De La Rue, the largest commercial passport and banknote printer, and has a testing contract with the Government of Canada.


The Organic Robotics Lab – Syracuse, NY

Caitlin Parrucci, Chief Robotics Evangelist

Product: Haptic Feedback Glove

The lack of realistic tactile interactions with virtual objects has limited how realistically humans perceive VR and AR. ORC is using technologies developed at Cornell University to develop haptic feedback devices to bring the virtual world to life. Their untethered, battery powered glove will feel force with light haptic interactions mediated by stretchable optical waveguides. The glove will use hydraulic actuators to cause the perception of touch, while tendon driven actuators provide resistive forces that cause the perception of the object’s shape.


Ovitz – Rochester, NY

Felix Kim, CEO

Product: Custom contact lens

Ovitz has developed individualized vision-enhancing solutions through a custom contact lens that significantly enhances patients’ vision quality. Abnormal corneas caused by conditions like keratoco- nus, ocular surface abnormalities such as dry eye diseases, or corneal damage resulting from eye surgery often cause unique optical defects leading to severely impaired vision. Ovitz uses a state-of-the- art optical technology and its own proprietary software algorithms
to diagnose individuals with abnormal corneas and provide prescrip- tion data for individualized contact lenses. These advanced contact lenses may also benefit individuals who desire enhanced visual function, such as athletes.


VPG Medical, Inc. – Rochester, NY

Jean-Philippe Couderc, CEO

Product: CardioGuard

VPG Medical Inc. is a digital health service company developing innovative healthcare solutions by leveraging disrupting monitoring technologies. VPG has developed CardioGuard: an innovative, proprietary platform technology leveraging the cameras embedded in smart devices to monitor the cardiac activities of their user. The technology is low cost since it does not rely on a dedicated sensor. It is easy to distribute since it comes in the form of a downloadable app and it operates across platforms. Their technology provides seamless and effortless cardiac monitoring, all the time and everywhere.


Funding for the $10 million program is being provided through the Finger Lakes Forward Upstate Revitalization Initiative award and is being administered by Nextcorps.


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