Luminate Accelerator Launches in Rochester

Luminate Accelerator Launches in Imaging Capital of the World

Would $1 million help your optics, photonics or imaging enabled startup?

By Sujatha Ramanujan, Managing Director, Luminate


Light has fascinated scientists and even philosophers for centuries. From early theories of light, to Newtonian Physics and to relativistic physics, human knowledge and understanding of the nature and possibilities of light has expanded exponentially.

And over time, science has leveraged light to produce life-changing innovation in medicine, computing, photography, defense and more.  Yet in some ways, this rich past may soon become a preamble to amazing worlds not yet envisioned.

The fields of optics, imaging and physics are converging to form a new megatrend known as photonics that many view as fundamental to the evolution of the global economy in the age of information.

Photonics seeks to apply the power of light to fuel breakthrough applications in virtual and artificial reality, machine learning, homeland security and surveillance, autonomous vehicles, remote sensing and more.

At Luminate in Rochester, we have a remarkable opportunity to help nurture some of these big ideas into tomorrow’s Google or Facebook.

Luminate Accelerator | Upstate Venture Connect


Luminate is a new business accelerator funded by New York State that’s focused on start-ups innovating in photonics, optics or imaging. We’re accepting applications for our first class through Sept. 15. Apply at

The 10 participants in the Luminate Accelerator will each receive $100,000 to start the program and assist them across the market launch process. At the end of six months, one winner selected following Demo Day will be awarded $1 million in additional capital, with additional funds being awarded to the second-place team.

Luminate competitors will receive other assistance. In addition to capital, participants will also gain access to a global advisory mentor network and growing local community of like-minded professionals.

That Luminate is headquartered in Rochester is no accident. This city is one of the country’s main hubs for photonics technology with more than 150 companies integral to the industry’s supply chain.

As well, the University of Rochester has one of the world’s leading educational programs in optics, and Rochester is also headquarters for AIM Photonics, the national institute for advanced manufacturing of integrated photonics.

We are looking for visionary entrepreneurs with photonics-enabled or photonics-enabling technologies that have reached the prototype stage. If you think you fit the definition, apply today at And follow us on TwitterLinkedIn and Facebook.

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