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Empire State Development Names Luminate Finalists

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Empire State Development (ESD) has announced the 10 companies selected to take part in the fifth round of the Luminate NY accelerator program, investment fund, and competition. The finalists will compete for up to $2 million in follow-on funding from ESD’s Finger Lakes Forward Upstate Revitalization Initiative.

One-hundred-thirty applications from 25 countries were received for consideration to participate in the accelerator, for startups working on emerging solutions that are enabled by optics, photonics, and imaging. The six-month program, to start April 11, will help the companies speed the commercialization of their technologies before the final pitch before a live audience and a panel of expert judges.

“Earning a spot in Luminate NY is becoming more competitive each year as the caliber of the teams and the originality of their inventions increases,” said Sujatha Ramanujan, managing director of Luminate NY.

Sujatha Ramanujan, managing director of Luminate NY. Courtesy of Empire State Development.


Sujatha Ramanujan, managing director of Luminate NY. Courtesy of Empire State Development.
The companies were selected after pitching their ideas to an advisory panel composed of industry experts. Each finalist will receive an initial investment of $100,000.

Asked about the range of distinct technologies in the current cohort, Ramanujan responded, “The simple answer is to say that it’s a diverse set of technologies and founders. What ties them together is their demonstration that optics are being integrated into practically every sector and technology category. As a result, markets are getting so much bigger, and the lines are blurring to such a degree that it’s getting difficult to easily classify them.”

Since its inception, Luminate has invested $12 million in 43 startups. The companies within the Luminate portfolio have raised an additional $80.8 million and have a combined valuation of approximately $360 million. Earlier this month, N.Y. Governor Kathy Hochul announced a proposed, four-year, $20 million commitment to continue the competition as part of her fiscal year 2023 budget proposal.

The companies within the cohort feature a wide range of technological offerings, including quantum.

“Many people continue to think of quantum capabilities as a future state,” Ramanujan said. “Yet, quantum systems and technologies are here, and they’ve been available for quite a while. While we have three companies in the fifth cohort that are working in this space, one is focusing on quantum optical system design software. That’s a leap that can help us change our mindset about quantum because it indicates that we’ve reached a point where we actually need design software for these growing offerings.”

The 10 selected startups and their technologies follow. 


Alertgy

Melbourne, Fla.
Patented wearable wristband platform with the first application providing affordable, effective, and noninvasive continuous glucose monitoring for diabetics, pre-diabetics, and other health-conscious people.

Axion Technologies

Tallahassee, Fla.

Patented technique for scrambling light to provide quantum random numbers, which can be used in computing applications to protect data and expand the usefulness of data simulations, enabling more secure networking.

Custom Surgical
München, Germany
Optical systems and software that digitize medical microscopes or slit-lamps, allowing for the seamless capture, storage, and broadcasting of high-quality medical imaging, without blocking the binoculars.

LIDROTEC
Bochum, Germany
Patent-pending wafer dicing laser machines for the semiconductor industry that enable thinner cuts with a 0% damage rate.

LightSpeedAI Labs

Karnataka, India
Optoelectronic interconnects and Lego-like processors that will address the need for increased, real-time processing of data bandwidth-intensive applications such as video streaming, AI, cybersecurity, and smartNIC at low power.

MEETOPTICS
Barcelona, Spain
A specialized photonics search hub that enables researchers and engineers to find and compare products and technologies from trusted suppliers in minutes instead of weeks.

QD Solar
Toronto, Canada
Low-cost, lightweight, flexible, high-power density solar sheet that offers efficiency well beyond that of silicon solar.

Quantopticon
London, England
Automation software tools supporting the rapid cost-effective development of high-quality, peak-performing quantum photonic devices, which are key to the emerging quantum technology industry.

SCOUT

Alexandria, Va.
On-orbit imaging systems and autonomy software for automated detection, tracking, and characterization of space objects and orbital debris.

Stratio
San Jose, Calif.
AI-assisted visible and infrared imaging solutions for advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), medical imaging, precision farming, forensic, and food/plastic sorting.

One additional company, EmGenisys — which won $250,000 in the 2021 Grow-NY competition — will take part in Luminate NY out of the finalist structure to gain access to regional resources. Opto Biolabs and SynchroPET will be auditing the program to help prepare and advance their businesses for applying to accelerator programs in the future.

“One of the more notable trends is that the early-stage startups coming in are a bit further along in their technology development and business than our earlier cohorts,” Ramanujan said. “Many have already talked to manufacturers and suppliers in the Rochester and Finger Lakes region about their needs and how they can help them advance. So, they already understand the business case for coming and innovating here and how it can help their trajectory.”

Published: March 2022
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The term quantum refers to the fundamental unit or discrete amount of a physical quantity involved in interactions at the atomic and subatomic scales. It originates from quantum theory, a branch of physics that emerged in the early 20th century to explain phenomena observed on very small scales, where classical physics fails to provide accurate explanations. In the context of quantum theory, several key concepts are associated with the term quantum: Quantum mechanics: This is the branch of...
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Lidar, short for light detection and ranging, is a remote sensing technology that uses laser light to measure distances and generate precise, three-dimensional information about the shape and characteristics of objects and surfaces. Lidar systems typically consist of a laser scanner, a GPS receiver, and an inertial measurement unit (IMU), all integrated into a single system. Here is how lidar works: Laser emission: A laser emits laser pulses, often in the form of rapid and repetitive laser...
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