August 7, 2017
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Announces Luminate NY Now Accepting Applications

TOP Governor Cuomo Announces Luminate NY Now...

World's Largest Start-up Accelerator of Optics, Photonics and Imaging Technologies Hires Managing Director and Names Advisory Board of Industry Leaders

"Finger Lakes Forward" Investment Advances the Region's Successful Strategic Plan to Grow the Economy and Create New Opportunities


Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the application window is open for Luminate NY, the world's largest business accelerator for startup firms in the optics, photonics and imaging industries, in Rochester. The Luminate NY initiative, which is being administered by High Tech Rochester, is focused on attracting and growing the most promising optics and photonics companies from across the state, the nation, and around the globe. Funding for the $10 million program is being provided through the Finger Lakes Forward Upstate Revitalization Initiative award.


"New York's strategic investments have positioned Rochester as a global leader in the photonics industry, and through this innovative program, I look forward to supporting the growth of new businesses across the region," Governor Cuomo said. "By fostering innovation and supporting the growth of new photonics companies, Luminate NY is leveraging the region's strong economy to continue to move the Finger Lakes forward."


Applications are now being accepted through September 15 on a rolling acceptance basis. Teams are encouraged to submit applications as early as possible for the best chance of being chosen for the program. Luminate NY applications are available here.


Luminate NY is looking for entrepreneurs interested in solving challenging optics, photonics and imaging problems, including but not limited to: machine vision, inspection, biophotonics, security, surveillance, augmented and virtual reality, and autonomous vehicles. Teams will be competing for one of ten available slots in the first cohort, guaranteeing them a minimum investment of $100,000 and major investments of up to $1 million.


Luminate NY applicants must be incorporated, have a full-time team and should have proven their core technology, preferably having developed a working prototype. Once admitted, companies will receive assistance with capital and a community of resources. Each member will receive a $100,000 initial convertible note investment, with a chance for follow-on funding at the end of the rigorous six month entrepreneurship training program, expected to total $2 million.


Jim Senall, High Tech Rochester President said, "Since announcing this new program just a short while ago, we are amazed by the amount of interest from the industry. We now have a world-class national advisory board in place, and a new Managing Director hired to run the program. We now really look forward to reviewing program applications and selecting our first cohort of teams."


Additionally, Dr. Sujatha Ramanujan has been hired to serve as Managing Director for the Luminate NY initiative, following a national search for the position. A serial entrepreneur and seasoned executive with 25 years of experience in Clinical Devices and in Consumer Electronics, Dr. Ramanujan has established, developed and grown three start-up businesses in cardiac surgical equipment, optical communications and nano materials. Dr. Ramanujan also holds 28 issued US patents. As a corporate investor for Kodak, Dr. Ramanujan provides guidance to start-ups, M&A strategies for growing businesses, and vetting of technologies to investors. She has also served on investment advisories in the U.S., Canada and Israel.


The Luminate NY Advisory Board is comprised of optics, photonics and imaging industry leaders including:


  • Eugene Arthurs - CEO SPIE
  • Milton Chang - Managing Director, Incubic Management
  • Stuart Elby - SVP, Data Center Business Group, Infinera
  • Steve Fantone - Founder & President, Optikos Corporation
  • Mike Foley - Managing Director, Artemis Capital Partners, L.P.
  • Don Golini - Founder, QED Technologies
  • Jay Kumler - President, Jenoptik Optical Systems
  • Michael Liehr - CEO AIM Photonics
  • Duncan Moore - Vice Provost for Entrepreneurship at University of Rochester           
  • Ryne Raffaelle - Vice President for Research and Associate Provost at Rochester Institute of Technology
  • Darius Sankey - General Partner, Sway Ventures
  • Jim Senall - President, High Tech Rochester


Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, "The Luminate NY accelerator initiative is already attracting innovative optics, photonics and imaging industry leaders and entrepreneurs. By providing them with the support needed to harness their pioneering ideas, we are helping the Finger Lakes region move forward."


FLREDC Co-Chair and Wegmans Food Markets Chairman Danny Wegman and Monroe Community College President Anne Kress said, "The history of entrepreneurship in Rochester is grounded in the history of the imaging sciences. Today, the optics, photonics, and imaging sector has been identified as a priority for the council as we work to establish the Finger Lakes region as the global leader in the burgeoning light-based products and services industry. Supporting the high-growth potential start-ups is a crucial to the success of Finger Lakes Forward regional economic development plan.


Senator Joseph Robach said, "Luminate NY is an exciting opportunity, and with the application window now open, companies in our region, and from across our state and the world, will have the opportunity to be on the forefront of developing innovative technology that has the potential to revolutionize how we live our lives. The results of this program will create opportunities and grow jobs right here in our community."

Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle said, "I am excited to see the Luminate NY initiative get underway as the high-tech optics, photonics, and imaging sector in Rochester continues to expand and flourish. This is an important step forward in our efforts to create a stronger innovation economy and I look forward to the program's future growth."


Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo said, "As we work collaboratively to attract new businesses and employers who create jobs, the spirit of George Eastman's innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship is alive and well. From our success attracting and retaining businesses to the announcement of our groundbreaking workforce development programming, Monroe County is poised like never before to serve as a productive partner with businesses looking to bring more jobs to this community."


Mayor Lovely Warren said, "Rochester is a hub of innovation and entrepreneurship, and we are thrilled that Luminate NY is becoming a reality. I would like to thank our Governor and our state government for their continued investment and support, which is helping us toward our goals of creating more jobs, safer and more vibrant neighborhoods and better educational opportunities for all our citizens."

Luminate NY will build on the federal Department of Defense led American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics, which is supported by a $250 million commitment from New York State and will be based in Rochester at the state-of-the-art AIM manufacturing facility located in Eastman Business Park. The facility will be used to test, assemble and package chips that use photons in place of electrons for increased performance of semiconductor circuits. First announced by Governor Cuomo and Vice President Joe Biden in July 2015, AIM Photonics will help secure the Finger Lakes region and nation's leadership position in emerging technology research, development and manufacturing. To find out more about Luminate NY click here. 


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 State has already invested more than $3.4 billion in the region since 2012 to lay the groundwork for the plan - investing in key industries including photonics, agriculture and food production, and advanced manufacturing. Today, unemployment is down to the lowest levels since before the Great Recession; personal and corporate income taxes are down; and businesses are choosing places like Rochester, Batavia and Canandaigua as a destination to grow and invest in.


Now, the region is accelerating Finger Lakes Forward with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, announced by Governor Cuomo in December 2015. 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.

Contact the Governor's Press Office
Contact the Governor's Press Office