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Application deadline approaches for photonics startup accelerator programme

The deadline is fast-approaching for startups to apply to join the next cohort of ‘Luminate’, a six-month accelerator and investment programme that awards $3 million annually to 10 companies working on solutions that are enabled by optics, photonics, or imaging (OPI).

The deadline for the accelerator programme, hosted by non-profit NextCorps in Rochester, New York, is 23:59 EST on 9 January. A total of 10 companies will be selected from the applicant pool, with the programme beginning in April and concluding in September. 

Startups applying to Luminate must be incorporated, have at least two people working full-time on the business, and should have proven their core technology, preferably having developed a working prototype. 

Participation in the accelerator programme is mostly remote, with select weeks in person for pitches to investor groups.

“Any startup, regardless of its location or industry, is encouraged to apply if it is developing a new application that leverages some aspect of OPI, such as a cell phone camera for photos and video, machine or computer vision, light, or sensors that can help detect characteristics like location, motion, damage, and facial recognition,” Luminate said in its final call for applicants.  

Companies accepted into past cohorts have been from diverse industries, including autonomous vehicles, augmented reality/virtual reality, climate tech, communications, defence, entertainment, medical devices, quantum computing, security, and more.

Luminate provides significant support to startups, including an immediate investment of $100,000 upon acceptance, expert mentorship, and access to investors and lab facilities. Upon graduation from the six-month programme, the companies compete for a portion of $2 million in follow-on funding provided through the Finger Lakes Forward Upstate Revitalization Initiative.

“One of the biggest challenges our company was facing was how to miniaturise our technology and make it more commercially viable,” said Mohan Thanikachalam, Founder & CEO of Dynocardia, a past graduate of the accelerator programme. “Luminate was extremely helpful in showing us the path from R&D to product development to commercialisation. Three minutes with one of the mentors Luminate provided saved us three months of work.”

The rigorous accelerator programme also provides a customised curriculum to guide startups through actionable business planning that is focused on commercialising and scaling their businesses. Members also benefit from working alongside peer OPI startups in the programme, leveraging best practices, and helping each other toward success.

“Startups today need more than just a good invention – they need a strong business in order to attract the funding needed to grow, commercialise their offerings, and scale their staff and operations. Luminate can help them with immediate funding, support, and access to the rich resources that exist here in Rochester, NY – the imaging capital of the world,” remarked Dr Sujatha Ramanujan, Managing Director of Luminate.

Startups can apply to Luminate here.


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