Empire State Development Announces Application Period Is Now Open for Round Five of Luminate NY Competition

Innovative Startups with Optics-, Photonics-, or Imaging-Enabled Applications Encouraged to Apply for Comprehensive Support and Funding

OPI Accelerator Competition is Supported Through “Finger Lakes Forward” – The Region’s Comprehensive Strategy to Revitalize Communities and Grow the Economy

ROCHESTER, N.Y., Sept. 14, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Empire State Development (ESD) today announced that Luminate NY—the world’s largest business accelerator for startup companies that have optics, photonics, and imaging (OPI) enabled applications—is now accepting applications for round five of the innovative program. The accelerator brings visionary companies to the Finger Lakes Region to leverage a rich ecosystem of resources to speed the commercialization of emerging technologies within a range of industries, from quantum computing, medical devices, and LiDAR to augmented reality, robotics, and autonomous vehicles. Round five of Luminate NY will add to the more than 400 companies that have applied to participate in the accelerator based on the unique programming and support that this region has to offer. Cohort five will expand on the novel technologies that are in Luminate’s robust portfolio, which is destined to advance the OPI industry in New York State. Luminate NY is administered by NextCorps.

“Luminate NY brings the most promising companies from around the world to New York, connecting them with our region’s top universities, talent, and manufacturing facilities to help them realize innovative vision,” said Empire State Development Chief Operating Officer and Executive Deputy Commissioner Kevin Younis. “This strategic investment is just one of the many ways New York is creating solid opportunities for diverse business owners, helping to highlight all of the competitive advantages that New York has to offer.”

Applicants for Luminate NY must be incorporated, have at least two full-time employees, and should have proven their core technology, preferably having developed a working prototype. Once admitted, companies will receive assistance, including capital, access to comprehensive lab facilities for technology development, education, and business mentoring. Applications will be accepted now through January 10, 2022.

Luminate NY is funded by the transformative Finger Lakes Forward Upstate Revitalization Initiative, a comprehensive strategy to foster economic development and revitalize communities. Located in the imaging capital of the world—Rochester, NY—the Luminate accelerator provides immediate funding paired with a six-month mentoring program to help new companies scale both their businesses and technologies. Selected applicants will compete for one of 10 available slots for cohort five. At the completion of the program, the teams will compete for a total of $2 million in follow-on funding, including a $1 million investment to the winning team and other investments totaling an additional $1 million. Teams winning follow-on funding must commit to doing some aspect of their business operations or manufacturing in the region for at least 18 months.

Dr. Sujatha Ramanujan, Managing Director, Luminate NY said, “This one-of-a-kind accelerator is helping emerging companies change the trajectory of their progress and the strength of their innovations. We encourage founders to apply to explore what Luminate can do for their business.” 
The recruitment for new OPI-enabled technologies comes just two weeks before Luminate NY’s fourth cohort of companies competes for $2 million in follow-on funding during the Luminate Finals 2021. This year due to COVID, the finals will be held virtually on September 30, 2021 beginning at 10:30 a.m. EDT via Zoom. Finals is free to attend but registration is required. In addition to seeing the teams compete for funding, the public will vote for their favorite startup, which will be awarded $10,000 as part of the annual New York State competition, and the public will have the opportunity to ask questions during a panel discussion on Women and Diversity in Entrepreneurship.

The Finger Lakes Region is home to an incredibly rich ecosystem for forward-thinking entrepreneurs who are looking to grow their business. Rochester is home to the American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics’ Test, Assembly and Packaging facility at Eastman Business Park, the University of Rochester’s Institute of Optics, the Rochester Institute of Technology, and to more than 150 local OPI companies which employ more than 17,000 employees who are building on the region’s legacy as a global imaging leader.
State Senator Jeremy Cooney said, “Rochester has been at the forefront of cutting-edge technology and innovation. Programs like Luminate NY are important to keep Rochester, and New York State, as creative leaders as our world’s economy continues to change. When startups in industries like photonics, optics, and imaging grow and prosper, so do our economy and our families.”

Assembly Member Harry Bronson said, “I join the Governor in encouraging our great talented pool of young entrepreneurs to enter round five of Luminate NY. I know that the entrepreneurial spirit and creative minds of our community will provide future jobs and economic growth for our state and nation. This competition helps build a brighter future for our families.”

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello said, “The Luminate NY initiative has already brought real results to Monroe County through investments in burgeoning high-tech businesses including SunDensity, Simulated Inanimate Models, and OVITZ. Our region is home to some of the best and brightest optics, photonics, and imaging minds in the world, and this program gives innovative entrepreneurs a platform to bring their ideas to the      marketplace and grow our local economy. Thank you to Empire State Development for the work they’ve done promoting and advancing the OPI industry in the Finger Lakes Region and good luck to all applicants in round five.”

For additional information about Luminate NY, visit: https://luminate.org/.

For additional information about NextCorps, visit: https://nextcorps.org/.

Accelerating Finger Lakes Forward 
Today’s announcement complements “Finger Lakes Forward,” the region’s comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The regionally designed plan focuses on investing in key industries including photonics, agriculture‎ and food production, and advanced manufacturing. Now, the region is accelerating Finger Lakes Forward with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative. The State’s $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion – and the region’s plan, as submitted, projects up to 8,200 new jobs. More information is available here.

About Empire State Development 
Empire State Development (ESD) is New York’s chief economic development agency. The mission of ESD is to promote a vigorous and growing economy, encourage the creation of new job and economic opportunities, increase revenues to the State and its municipalities, and achieve stable and diversified local economies. Through the use of loans, grants, tax credits and other forms of financial assistance, ESD strives to enhance private business investment and growth to spur job creation and support prosperous communities across New York State. ESD is also the primary administrative agency overseeing the New York State Regional Economic Development Councils and the marketing of “I LOVE NY,” the State’s iconic tourism brand. For more information on Regional Councils and Empire State Development, please visit www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov and www.esd.ny.gov.

Shari Voorhees-Vincent | Shari.Voorhees-Vincent@esd.ny.gov | (585) 399-7055
Press Office | pressoffice@esd.ny.gov | (800) 260-7313
Shannon Wojcik | Luminate | shannon@rkgcomms.com | (585) 831-6267