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Photonics startups invited to apply to Luminate NY accelerator


Empire State Development (ESD) has announced that Luminate NY – a business accelerator for startup companies that have optics, photonics, and imaging (OPI) enabled technologies – is now accepting applications for its seventh cohort. Each year, the accelerator brings ten companies to the Finger Lakes Region to leverage an ecosystem of resources to speed the commercialisation of emerging technologies within a range of industries, such as autonomous vehicles, quantum computing, communications, advanced manufacturing, robotics, and augmented reality.

“The 64 companies currently in Luminate NY’s portfolio are speeding the commercialisation of industry-changing technologies and businesses by leveraging the rich resources that help make New York State the OPI capital of the world,” said Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight. “We encourage startups to join this diverse group of fast-growing companies—now valued at more than $650 million—by applying to the Luminate accelerator to take advantage of all that New York has to offer.”

The companies selected to take part in round seven of Luminate NY will compete for one of 10 available slots and will each receive $100,000 upon acceptance. At the completion of the programme, the teams will compete for a total of $2 million in follow-on funding, including a $1 million investment to the winning team and other investments totalling an additional $1 million. Teams winning follow-on funding must commit to doing some aspect of their business operations or manufacturing in the region for at least 18 months.

Applicants for Luminate NY must be incorporated, have at least two full-time employees, and should have proven their core technology, preferably having developed a working prototype. Once admitted, companies will receive assistance, including capital, access to comprehensive lab facilities for technology development, education, and business mentoring. The deadline for applications is 8 January 2024.

Dr. Sujatha Ramanujan, Managing Director, Luminate NY said, “Luminate is proven to accelerate the trajectory of early-stage companies by providing founders with the mentorship, curriculum, and vetted vendors they need to de-risk both their businesses and technology development. We encourage founders located everywhere to sign up for one of our informational sessions to learn more about the many ways we can help startups tackle challenges and move forward.”

Luminate NY is funded by the Finger Lakes Forward Upstate Revitalization Initiative, a strategy to foster economic development and revitalise communities, and is administered by NextCorps. Located in Rochester, NY, the Luminate accelerator provides immediate funding paired with a six-month hybrid mentoring program to help new companies scale both their businesses and technologies. Programme participation includes both virtual and in-person events.

The start of the recruitment period comes just weeks before Luminate NY’s sixth cohort of companies competes for $2 million in follow-on funding during Luminate Finals 2023 on 27 September 2023. For the third year in a row, Optica is sponsoring finals, which will take place online via Zoom and in person at The Theatre at Innovation Square in Rochester, NY, at 11:30 a.m. EDT.

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