SPIE Names 2024 Startup Challenge Finalists

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Seven early-stage startup companies have been selected to compete for a top prize of $10,000 at the 14th annual SPIE Startup Challenge at Photonics West on Jan. 30. The SPIE Startup Challenge is a competitive entrepreneurial platform for new businesses that use optics and photonics for innovative products or applications. Participating teams are competing for sponsored prizes, in addition to gaining increased visibility with potential investors.

Cash prizes of $10,000, $5000, and $2500, provided by Startup Challenge founding partner Jenoptik, will be awarded to the top three finalists. The SPIE Startup Challenge is also supported by lead sponsors Hamamatsu and Thorlabs and supporting sponsor NextCorps Luminate.
Swave Photonics won the challenge in 2023. From left, Jenoptik’s Ralf Kuschnereit, Swave co-founder and chief product officer Theo Marescaux, Swave CEO Mike Noonen, and 2023 SPIE vice president Peter de Groot. Credit: Joey Cobbs.
Swave Photonics, winner of the 2023 SPIE Startup Challenge. From left: Jenoptik’s Ralf Kuschnereit, Swave co-founder and chief product officer Theo Marescaux, Swave CEO Mike Noonen, and 2023 SPIE vice president Peter de Groot. Courtesy of Joey Cobbs.
The industry-judged competition will hear from teams of finalists pitching new products in photonics-enabled health care and deep tech. Competition judges include venture capitalists and business-development experts from the photonics industry, who will vet applicants for their business case, financial case, and competitive advantages. Teams competing in the Startup Challenge will get feedback on their business and pitch from business-development experts and investors.

Products this year encompass innovations in medical applications, photovoltaic technology, and manufacturing. The seven 2024 SPIE Startup Challenge finalists and their technologies follow:

  • ClearVision: A noninvasive alternative to permanent vision-correction surgeries based on corneal sculpting with femtosecond laser technology.

  • Soliddd: A lens array coupled with a light-field display designed for the next generation of macular-degeneration vision correction.

  • UriMetrics: A lens-free imaging solution for reducing the incidence of catheter-associated urinary tract infections.

  • Momentum Optics: A laser-projection-based manufacturing machine for glass and ceramics optics that eliminates the need for specialized tooling, molds, or photomasks, increasing the speed of optical manufacturing while decreasing cost.

  • Photonect: A technology that decreases the insertion loss between a photonic chip and an optical fiber, offering a fourfold improvement to current industry standards.

  • Solaires Entreprises Inc.: Perovskite-based photovoltaic modules capable of recycling indoor light to power battery-driven devices without connecting to the grid.

  • TRAQC: A real-time inspection solution using terahertz radiation and metamaterial technology for the printed electronics industry, ensuring quality while reducing waste.

Published: December 2023
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