Governor Kathy Hochul today announced Lidrotec as the winner of Round 5 of the Luminate NY optics, photonics, and imaging startup accelerator competition. The 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. As required by the award, all winners of the competition will commit to establishing operations in the region for at least the next 18 months. Through Luminate NY, Lidrotec was introduced to AIM Photonics. This collaboration is helping Lidrotec build the infrastructure for developing the next iteration of its technology and execute on its plans to establish US operations. Luminate NY, which is administered by NextCorps, is the world’s largest business accelerator for emerging companies that have optics, photonics, and imaging enabled technologies. The Finals event marks the completion of the fifth year of the cohort-based program. Earlier this year, Governor Hochul included funding for Luminate NY in the New State budget for four more consecutive years.
“New York is on the cutting edge of technological research, as we continue to welcome great talent and opportunities here through our Luminate NY competition,” Governor Hochul said. “We are adding another chapter to the Finger Lakes Region’s unparalleled history in imaging and optics by bringing the most promising companies here to speed the commercialization of groundbreaking technologies. Today’s winners will be able to take advantage of the nation’s most robust, sophisticated, and highly integrated optics, photonics and imaging supply chain that exists here to scale their businesses, leading to their growth as well as New York State’s economy.”
Lidrotec’s patent-pending wafer-dicing laser technology for the semiconductor industry enables thinner cuts with a virtually 0% damage rate, providing significant cost savings and productivity increases. Its innovation is in the efficient use of liquids in the laser processing zone, which 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 said, “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.”
Munich, Germany based Custom Surgical was awarded the Outstanding Graduate Award and $500,000 in follow-on investment. They also received the $10,000 Audience Choice award. The company is modernizing surgery by providing an effective way to record, store, and share medical images and leverage them to diagnose and treat patients. Alertgy from Melbourne, FL secured the Distinguished Graduate award and $250,000 for its technology, which gives diabetics and the world’s 2 billion pre-diabetics a way to non-invasively monitor their blood glucose levels on demand.
There was a tie for Honorable Achievement, with MEETOPTICS from Barcelona Spain and SCOUT from Alexandria, VA each receiving $125,000. MEETOPTICS is building an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven platform that helps engineers and researchers in the optics and photonics industry quickly access and compare products and technologies from trusted manufacturers online. SCOUT is providing alternatives to the terrestrial sensing paradigm with on-orbit imaging systems and autonomy software for the automated detection, tracking, and characterization of space objects and orbital debris.
Investments today were presented after a panel of judges from the optics, photonics, and imaging (OPI) industry and venture capitalist community scored the participating companies based on their business pitches and due diligence completed during the six-month accelerator program.
Since its inception, Luminate NY has invested $15 million in 54 startups. The companies in the portfolio now share a net worth of more than $400 million. In addition to providing an estimated 1.5 to 2 times return on investment, many of the companies are establishing U.S. operations or some aspect of research and manufacturing in the Rochester region, which has resulted in 150 jobs (100 full-time and 20 contract positions), with an additional 120 projected in the near future from two companies. Last year’s winner, PreAct Technologies, committed to establishing its pilot, high-tech manufacturing in Rochester, which is expected to create 60 jobs.
Luminate NY Managing Director Dr. Sujatha Ramanujan said, “This accelerator is providing the critical support that early-stage companies need to bring their technologies to market and expand their businesses in both U.S. and global markets. We are grateful to Governor Hochul for the program’s continuation.”
The Luminate NY accelerator is based in Rochester and selects ten promising companies each year to participate in its six-month program. During this time, companies are provided with comprehensive training and resources to advance their technologies and businesses. Applications are now being accepted for Round 6 through January 9, 2023. Teams that can physically locate to Rochester will receive $100,000 in funding upon program start in April 2023. Teams that are unable to come to Rochester due to travel and Visa restrictions will receive $50,000 in funding upon program start and an additional $50,000 that must be used to engage resources in the Finger Lakes region during their time in the accelerator.
The Finger Lakes Region is home to an incredibly rich ecosystem of forward-thinking entrepreneurs who are looking to grow their business. Rochester offers 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 more than 150 local OPI companies which employ over 17,000 employees.
Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight, said, “The Luminate NY competition’s laser focus on accelerating innovation and investment in New York’s world-renowned optics, photonics and imaging industries has further established the Finger Lakes as an OPI hub. Congratulations to all finalists, and in particular Round 5 winner Lidrotec, whose technology complements New York’s strengths in semiconductor manufacturing. We look forward to the growth and impact that these forward-thinking companies will bring to the region.”
State Senator Jeremy Cooney said, “Luminate NY continues to bring high-quality jobs to our Greater Rochester region through their accelerator competition, and this round’s winners are no exception. I’m grateful for the advancements in technology, health, wellness, and scientific discovery that these companies will leverage in our area. Thank you to Governor Hochul, Finger Lakes Forward, and Empire State Development for their support of these initiatives.”
Assemblymember Harry Bronson said, “The Luminate NY Accelerator Program attracts the most creative and dynamic light technology startups from across the globe. The winners of this competition will advance our optics, photonics and imaging industries across NYS. Congratulations to the team at Lidrotec! We are excited to see you grow your company here in the Finger Lakes Region. Lidrotec’s ingenuity and inventiveness will continue to bring job opportunities and investment to our area. We must meet their vision and successes with equitable workforce development programs that not only support our emerging and expanding industries but also provide career pathways for all members of our community.”
Monroe County Executive Adam Bello said, “Congratulations to Lidrotec and all the winners of the Luminate NY program – which continues to inspire innovators and jumpstart the businesses of tomorrow across the Greater Rochester region. “Thank you to Gov. Kathy Hochul and Luminate NY for continuing to foster economic growth in our community – providing quality jobs for our neighbors and strengthening our economy.”
Rochester Mayor Malik Evans said, “The Luminate NY accelerator provides our city with an enormous economic boost and expands Rochester’s already dense web of groundbreaking innovators in optics, photonics and imaging. We are thrilled to host the Luminate Finals and wholeheartedly welcome Lidrotec to the region. Congratulations to all of the winners and thanks to Governor Hochul and the Finger Lakes Forward Initiative for making these important investments that benefit our citizens.”
For additional information about Luminate NY, visit: https://luminate.org/.
For additional information about NextCorps, visit: https://nextcorps.org/.