BELLINGHAM, WA and CARDIFF, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwired - November 04, 2016) - The application deadline is fast approaching for an opportunity for new photonics entrepreneurs to pitch technology product ideas to business development experts and venture capitalists -- and win a share of more than $85,000 in cash, prizes, and support.

Applications for the seventh annual SPIE Startup Challenge 2017 are due by 18 November to SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics. The competition is held during SPIE Photonics West at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, 28 January through 2 February, enabling new entrepreneurs to pitch their business plans to corporate development experts and venture capitalists.

Cash prizes, including $10,000 for first prize, $5,000 for second prize, and $2500 for third, are funded by Founding Partner Jenoptik.

Trumpf, Open Photonics, and Edmund Optics, which also awards the first-place winner $5,000 in products, will be joined by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) as Supporting Sponsors.

Commenting on their new sponsorship, NSF SBIR/STTR Program Director Rick Schwerdtfeger said, "The NSF SBIR/STTR program is excited to sponsor the SPIE Startup Challenge to help great teams commercialize great technologies."

Semifinalists, finalists, and winners are widely promoted by SPIE and on industry news site

While the money is important, said 2016 winner Leslie Kimmerling of Double Helix, "one of the most important benefits is the mentoring, coaching, and advice you get. Probably the most important is the networking and the community that you continue to build."

Eligible applicants must present an optics or photonics technology or application as the basis for a viable new business. The event focuses on new businesses and potential startups, and established companies must be pre-revenue at the time of the competition and may not have sold any products.

Winners in the 2016 SPIE Startup Challenge were a 3D nanoscale imaging system from Double Helix, a marijuana breathalyzer from Diagnostic AnSERS, and a disease diagnostic tool made with refrigerator magnets and a laser pointer from Disease Diagnostic Group.

Application, eligibility, structure, rules, and other information is at

About SPIE
SPIE is the international society for optics and photonics, an educational not-for-profit organization founded in 1955 to advance light-based science, engineering and technology. The Society serves nearly 264,000 constituents from approximately 166 countries, offering conferences and their published proceedings, continuing education, books, journals, and the SPIE Digital Library. In 2015, SPIE provided more than $5.2 million in support of education and outreach programs.

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