Luminate NY Applications | Upstate Venture Connect

Applications Open for Round 2 of Luminate NY

Luminate NY competition aims to bring visionary optics, photonics and imaging companies to the Finger Lakes region

By Holly Barrett, Marketing Director, NextCorps

Luminate NY – the world’s largest business accelerator for startup companies in the optics, photonics and imaging industries – is now accepting applications for Round II of its innovation competition. The Luminate NY accelerator, located in Rochester, helps promising optics and photonics companies advance their technologies and businesses through a community of resources, including financial support. Funding the $10 million Luminate NY program is bring provided through the transformative Finger Lakes Forward Revitalization Initiative.

The recruitment for new OPI enabled technologies comes just days before Luminate’s first cohort of companies competes for $2 million in follow-on funding. The free Light Tomorrow with Today Demo Day event will be held on June 28, 2018 at the Big Tent at the Rochester International Jazz Festival. One company will be awarded $1 million, with three other companies splitting the additional $1 million.

 “Luminate NY is helping companies and advancing technologies in the Finger Lakes region,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “Round 2 of the competition will continue to support businesses and grow the high-tech industry, creating jobs and boosting the economy in the area. Our investments in innovative photonics companies are continuing to move the Finger Lakes Forward.”

The Luminate NY initiative—which is administered by NextCorps— is looking for entrepreneurs from around the globe who are interested in solving challenges in optics, photonics and imaging, 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 second cohort, guaranteeing them a minimum investment of $100,000 and major investments of up to $1 million.

Dr. Sujatha Ramanujan, Managing Director, Luminate NY said, “Luminate NY gives entrepreneurs unparalleled support, such as access to a global network of OPI leaders, mentors who are matched to their particular business needs, and structured curriculum that allows for the time to transfer knowledge into actionable business plans.” 

Applicants for Luminate NY 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, technology development and business mentoring. 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. Applications will be accepted through September 24 on a rolling acceptance basis. For more information on Luminate NY, go to

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “With Round II of Luminate NY, we’ll continue to attract companies from around the world to New York State to invigorate and grow the optics, photonics and imaging industry in the Finger Lakes region, adding to the more than 100 companies who were drawn to this unique, economy-boosting business accelerator competition in Round I.” 

Luminate NY is building on the region’s historically strong OPI sector, including the new U.S. Department of Defense-led American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics, which is supported by a $250 million commitment from New York State and will be based in Rochester at the state-of-the-art AIM manufacturing facility located in Eastman Business Park. The facility will be used to test, assemble and package chips that use photons in place of electrons for increased performance of semiconductor circuits. First announced by Governor Cuomo and Vice President Joe Biden in July 2015, AIM Photonics will help secure the Finger Lakes region and nation’s leadership position in emerging technology research, development, and manufacturing.

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