LIDROTEC's Wafer-Dicing Laser Tech Earns $1M at Luminate Finals 2022

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Lidrotec, a company that develops wafer-dicing laser technology for the semiconductor industry, took home $1 million in follow-on funding and Company of the Year honors as the winner of Luminate’s 5th cohort. The winning company, as well as the names of the additional funding recipients, were revealed Oct. 19 during the Luminate 2022 Finals. The ceremony was held at Optica’s Frontiers in Optics + Laser Science conference in Rochester, N.Y.

Lidrotec's patent-pending technology enables thinner cuts with a virtually 0% damage rate, providing significant cost savings and productivity increases. The technology's innovation is in the efficient use of liquids in the laser-processing zone that cool and rinse wafers while the laser cuts out the chips. The resulting benefits include thinner cuts with higher precision, no damages to the material, clean surfaces without debris, and higher processing speeds — all without the need to adapt the production process.

Lidrotec CEO Alexander Igelmann accepted the $1 million award. He said the company will use the funding to ramp up business activity in the Rochester region and in the U.S., as well as to help Lidrotec develop and build its next prototype, which it aims to use as a demonstration tool and for which it aims to receive purchase orders.

“This is definitely a big boost to us,” Igelmann told Photonics Media. “The next goal is to build something that we can sell, as we have a prototype in the lab which we can use to do cutting as a service. But the goal is for us to sell machines. That is the next big milestone for us.”

Bochum, Germany-based Lidrotec received the "Company of the Year" award at Luminate Finals 2022, which was held live during Optica's Frontiers in Optics + Laser Science conference in Rochester. The company will receive $1 million in investment from New York State through the Finger Lakes Forward Upstate Revitalization Initiative. Company CEO Alexander Igelmann accepted the company's award. Courtesy of Sue Zuecola.
Bochum, Germany-based Lidrotec received the Company of the Year award at Luminate Finals 2022, which was held live during Optica's Frontiers in Optics + Laser Science conference in Rochester, N.Y. The company will receive $1 million in investment from New York state through the Finger Lakes Forward Upstate Revitalization Initiative. Lidrotec CEO Alexander Igelmann accepted the award. Courtesy of Sue Zuecola.

Through Luminate NY, Lidrotec was introduced to AIM Photonics. The collaboration is helping Lidrotec to build the infrastructure for developing the next iteration of its technology and to execute on its plans to establish U.S. operations.

“We founded the company in Germany, and operationally we are still there,” Igelmann said. “But we have an American entity now. The U.S. is a huge market for us in the semiconductor industry. If you think of the biggest semiconductor company, you’ll think of a U.S. company. So, it’s clear that we need to target this market.

"Luminate provided us with a new network into the United States, along with contacts to suppliers and clients. These vital connections will help us to meet our development milestones during the next two years, which include market validation for our novel laser technology,” he said.

Luminate finalists compete for a total of $2 million in follow-on funding, which is comprised of the $1 million investment to the winning team and other investments that total an additional $1 million. All winners of the competition will establish operations in the region for at least the next 18 months following the close of the cohort.

Cohort 5 finalists consisted of 10 startups from six countries. Each finalist received an initial investment of $100,000 prior to the up-to-$2 million competition. Accepted startups have access to and benefit from mentorship from industry experts, as well as access to investors, lab facilities, and comprehensive curriculum.

The six-country representation is double the number of countries that participated as finalists in Luminate’s first cohort. Luminate NY managing director Sujatha Ramanujan said the international aspect of Cohort 5 was a distinguisher for the participating companies.

“This year's cohort was very international, and really bonded well," Ramanujan told Photonics Media. Where previous cohorts worked through the program virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic, cohort 5 companies had an added cohesiveness brought about by working together in person.

“This cohort got to really experience New York, which was really important — to come here and spend a significant amount of time with vendors and with the region to understand why a business can develop well here,” she said.

Custom Surgical, the Munich-based developer of the MicroREC optical system that allows opthalmologists to connect any smartphone camera to the optical path of a microscope, secured $510,000 in funding as the cohort’s Outstanding Graduate. The company was also the Audience Choice award winner as voted on by attending audience members. Alertgy earned $250,000 for its noninvasive blood glucose monitoring solution. MeetOptics and Scout each earned $125,000 in follow-on funding. MeetOptics received the funding for its AI-driven platform that enables specialized searches of optics and photonics components for engineers and researchers. Scout engineers vision-based autonomy solutions for Earth and space. 

Susan Houde-Walker, director of the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science at the Rochester Institute of Technology and CEO of LMD Power of Light Corp. (formerly LaserMax Inc.), delivered the event keynote. Additional speakers included Optica CEO Liz Rogan; Finger Lakes Regional Director for Empire State Development Vincent Esposito; and Rochester mayor Malik Evans, who officially declared Oct. 19 “Luminate Day” in the city.

A total of 130 applications were received for consideration to participate in the world’s largest accelerator for startups working on emerging solutions that are enabled by optics, photonics, and imaging.

According to Ramanujan, as the accelerator has advanced, so too have the defining characteristics of each cohort and its members, along with the types of technologies and applications the companies are advancing.

“Each cohort has had a different flavor of what they're bringing to the optics community," Ramanujan said. “Early on we had a lot more medical tech, medical device, and pharmaceutical research because that was the trend of what was happening in industry."

She said entrepreneurs participating in this cohort offered solutions addressing the supply chain and the semiconductor industry. “A lot of critical issues in the world right now come out in the innovation that these entrepreneurs bring forward."

Funding for the $25 million Luminate Accelerator program, which was created and run by NextCorps, is provided through the Finger Lakes Forward Upstate Revitalization Initiative.

“In the last five years, Luminate NY has brought 54 of the most promising companies from around the world to New York to connect them with our region’s top universities, talent, and manufacturing facilities to help them solve pressing industry challenges,” said Hope Knight, Empire State Development president and CEO and commissioner, at the opening for Cohort 6 applicants.

Luminate portfolio companies have a collective estimated value of more than $400 million, and have raised an additional $127 million, Ramanujan said. Applications for participants in the cohort opened in September and will remain open into Jan. 2023.

Published: October 2022
In the context of electronics and semiconductor manufacturing, a wafer refers to a thin, flat disk or substrate made of a semiconducting material, usually crystalline silicon. Wafers serve as the foundation for the fabrication of integrated circuits (ICs), microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), and other microdevices. Here are key points regarding wafers: Material: Silicon is the most commonly used material for wafer fabrication due to its excellent semiconductor properties, high purity,...
LuminateLuminate AcceleratorLuminate FinalsFrontiers in Optics + Laser ScienceLIDROTECSujatha RamanujanEuropeRochesterLaserswaferfluidicsmanufacturingindustrialindustryNew YorkmachinesProductBusinessAlexander IgelmannIndustry News

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