Luminate NY Opens Applications for Seventh Cohort of Optics, Photonics, and Imaging Startups

Empire State Development (ESD) has announced that Luminate NY, a business accelerator for startups focusing on optics, photonics, and imaging (OPI) technologies, is now accepting applications for its seventh cohort. This initiative, held annually, invites 10 startups to the Finger Lakes Region, capitalizing on local resources to fast-track the commercialization of novel technologies.

Currently, Luminate NY’s portfolio boasts 64 companies with a combined valuation exceeding $650 million, contributing to New York State’s reputation as a global hub for OPI. The ten startups that earn their spot in the seventh cohort will each secure $100,000 upon entry. The accelerator culminates in a competition where participating companies vie for a share of $2 million in additional funding, with the top team securing a $1 million investment. However, there’s a caveat: winners of this follow-on funding must ensure at least 18 months of their business operations or manufacturing remains in the Finger Lakes Region.

Application criteria specify that entrants must be incorporated, maintain a minimum of two full-time staff, and have already validated their core technology, ideally through a working prototype. Accepted companies will be entitled to a host of benefits, including capital, access to state-of-the-art labs, education, and business mentorship. The application window closes on January 8, 2024.

Supported by the Finger Lakes Forward Upstate Revitalization Initiative and managed by NextCorps, Luminate NY couples immediate funding with a rigorous six-month mentorship scheme, enabling startups to expand their businesses and technological capabilities. This intensive program blends virtual and physical events for participants.

As the seventh cohort’s recruitment begins, Luminate NY is gearing up for its sixth cohort’s finale on September 27, 2023, where these companies will compete for the aforementioned $2 million in follow-on funds.

The Finger Lakes Region offers budding entrepreneurs access to a vibrant OPI ecosystem. This includes the American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics’ facility, the University of Rochester’s Institute of Optics, the Rochester Institute of Technology, and over 150 established OPI enterprises employing more than 17,000 individuals, underscoring the region’s global acclaim in imaging.

The program has garnered widespread support from local officials, with State Senator Jeremy Cooney lauding Luminate NY’s innovative approach and its positive ripple effect on New York’s economy. Similarly, Assembly member Harry Bronson highlighted the program’s ability to draw global talent, spotlighting the community as a nexus of innovation. Monroe County Executive, Adam Bello, and Rochester Mayor, Malik Evans, both emphasized the transformative impact of Luminate NY in positioning the Finger Lakes Region and Rochester, respectively, as leaders in the OPI sector.