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Application window now open for Round Six of Luminate NY business competition

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

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 its sixth cohort. Each year, the accelerator brings ten 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, such as autonomous vehicles, quantum computing, medical devices, advanced manufacturing, robotics, and augmented reality. The companies selected to take part in round six of Luminate NY will compete for one of 10 available slots. 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

“In the last five years, Luminate NY has brought 54 of the most promising companies from around the world to New York to connect them with our region’s top universities, talent, and manufacturing facilities to help them solve pressing industry challenges,” said Empire State Development President and CEO and Commissioner, Hope Knight.“Today, these rapidly growing companies have a collective estimated value of over $400 million, have created top-quality jobs, and have brought new capabilities to the markets they serve, demonstrating how this strategic investment and the competitive advantages that New York has to offer can change the trajectory for diverse business founders.”

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 9, 2023.

Luminate NY is funded by the transformative Finger Lakes Forward Upstate Revitalization Initiative, a comprehensive strategy to foster economic development and revitalize communities, and is administered by NextCorps. Located in the imaging capital of the world—Rochester, NY—the Luminate accelerator provides immediate funding of $100,000 paired with a six-month hybrid mentoring program to help new companies scale both their businesses and technologies. Program participation includes both virtual and in-person events.

Dr. Sujatha Ramanujan, Managing Director, Luminate NY said, “Luminate’s reputation continues to grow for how its OPI-focused funding, curriculum, and mentoring advances the progress of emerging companies and the development of their technologies.  We encourage founders to apply to gain the benefits of this unique support, as well as the collaboration and connections we provide that can open new opportunities for scaling their businesses.”

The opening of the recruitment period comes just weeks before Luminate NY’s fifth cohort of companies competes for $2 million in follow-on funding during Luminate Finals 2022. This year, Optica is sponsoring the finals event and it will take place as part of the Frontiers in Optics + Laser Science show on October 19, 2022 beginning at 12:30 p.m. EDT. Attendees can register to attend the free event in person or virtually via Zoom. 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. Renowned physicist Michal Lipson will be the keynote at the event.

The Finger Lakes Region is home to an incredibly rich ecosystem for 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 more than 17,000 employees who are building on the region’s legacy as a global imaging leader.

State Senator Jeremy Cooney said, “I’m excited to see the opportunities for continued technological innovation and economic development that the cohort chosen from this sixth round of Luminate NY’s business competition will bring to our region. As a world leader in OPI, this partnership is a win-win for Greater Rochester as well as the companies that will be housed here. I’m grateful to Empire State Development and Finger Lakes Forward for advancing this work in our community.”

Assemblymember Harry Bronson said, “As Chair of the Assembly’s Committee on Economic Development, I join the Governor in encouraging our great talented pool of young entrepreneurs to enter round six of Luminate NY. There are so many opportunities for growth here in the Finger Lakes Region, and I know the entrepreneurial spirit and creative minds of our community will provide future jobs and economic growth for our state and nation. This competition has continually helped to build a brighter future for our families here in the Finger Lakes Region and we are thankful for round six.”

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello said, “The Luminate NY accelerator program has already brought real results to Monroe County with investments in promising companies that will help provide jobs and economic growth for our region and continue to position our community as a global leader in the light-based products and services sector. I thank Empire State Development and Gov. Hochul for continuing to recognize our region’s potential and spurring growth in our high-tech optics, photonics, and imaging industries.”

Rochester Mayor Malik Evans said, “The City of Rochester is excited to welcome the sixth Luminate New York cohort. Luminate’s proven success in connecting the world’s best and brightest in optics, photonics, and imaging with the depth of resources and experience in Rochester has driven entrepreneurs’ success as well as sustainable economic empowerment for the region. This is a true win-win for innovation and for Rochester.”

For additional information about Luminate NY, visit:
For additional information about NextCorps, visit:
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 Regional Economic Development Councils and the marketing of “I LOVE NEW YORK,” the State’s iconic tourism brand. For more information on Regional Councils and Empire State Development, visit and
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