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Startup Pitch Contest Deadline is Dec. 1

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BELLINGHAM, Wash., Nov. 17, 2013 — Photonics entrepreneurs have through Dec. 1 to enter the SPIE Startup Challenge, an opportunity to pitch their light-based technology products to a team of business development experts and venture capitalists and win cash and mentoring.

First prize is $10,000, plus $5000 in products from Edmund Optics. Second prize is $5000 and third prize is $2500. Each of the eight finalists will also receive sponsorship to attend the Entrepreneurship Academies, a weeklong entrepreneur boot camp organized by the University of California, Davis.

The annual competition is hosted by international optics and photonics society SPIE and supported by founding sponsor Jenoptik, along with other sponsors Trumpf, Open Photonics, Edmund Optics and Knobbe Martens. Eligible applicants must present an optics or photonics technology or application as the basis for a viable new business. Because the event focuses on new businesses and potential startups, established companies must be pre-revenue at the time of the competition and may not have sold any products.

Written applications will be evaluated by a team of expert judges, who will select 20 finalists to deliver private oral pitches during Photonics West 2014, which will be held Feb. 1-6 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Oral pitches for both rounds of the Startup Challenge may not exceed three minutes and two slides.

A second panel of judges will select the top eight pitches from the private semifinal round. The public final round will take place Wednesday, Feb. 5, with the judges deciding the top three pitches and announcing the winners.

Part of the value of the Startup Challenge is that it teaches entrepreneurs about the differences in priority placed on commercialization as compared to academic research, said Adam Wax, a professor at Duke University who has served on the judging panel. This understanding is essential for connection with venture capitalists, he added.

"And the winners of the Startup Challenge go on to the Entrepreneurship Academy sponsored at UC Davis," Wax said. "This is really setting up our next generation of entrepreneurs and could be very valuable for future technologies."

Winners in the 2013 Startup Challenge pitched products including a 3-D surface inspection system designed to measure surface flushness of rivets in the aerospace industry; a compact, low-cost, high-performance optical biosensor for point-of-care diagnostics in the chronic disease management sector; and a remote image-guided endoscopic surgery (RIGES) platform that utilizes rotating optical wedges to remotely control a focused laser deep within the body.

For more information, including contest rules and a link to the application, visit:
Nov 2013
Adam WaxAmericasBiophotonicsBusinessbusiness startupEdmund OpticsentrepreneurimagingJenoptikKnobbe MartensOpen PhotonicsopticsPhotonics WestSPIE Startup ChallengeTrumpfventure capitallasers

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