Rochester-based Company Ovitz Wins $1 Million Top Prize
Three Additional Visionary Optics, Photonics, and Imaging Companies Secure Follow-on Funding Investment
New York State Investment Complements "Finger Lakes Forward" - the Region's Comprehensive Strategy to Revitalize Communities and Grow the Economy
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced Ovitz is the winner of Round II of the groundbreaking Luminate NY competition. The Rochester, New York-based company received top honors at Luminate NY's "Light Tomorrow with Today" Demo Day competition, held in the main tent at the CGI International Jazz Festival in downtown Rochester. The company will receive $1 million in follow-on funding 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 Rochester for at least the next 18 months.
"Strategic investments in OPI-enabled technologies continue to bolster the Finger Lakes region's reputation as the imaging capital of the world," Governor Cuomo said. "The innovations and commitments demonstrated through the Luminate NY competition further prove the vast potential of this industry and its ability to move the regional economy forward for years to come."
Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul was on hand to celebrate the cohort's accomplishments and to congratulate the winners.
"Luminate NY is advancing technological innovation and lighting the path forward for the Finger Lakes region," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who made today's announcement. "The second round of the competition continues to support businesses and grow the high-tech industry, creating jobs and boosting the Rochester area economy. I congratulate the winners of this year's Luminate NY Competition. Our investments in innovative photonics companies are continuing to move the Finger Lakes Forward."
Ovitz has developed an individualized, vision-enhancing contact lens innovation that significantly improves people's vision quality: clarity, contrast, and depth perception.
VPG Medical, also based in Rochester, was awarded the second-place prize of $500,000. Its HealthKam® technology uses smart devices and laptops to enable effortless, seamless cardiac monitoring to deliver improved diagnoses and therapeutic strategies. Lumedica Vision, based in North Carolina, was named third place winner, securing $250,000 for its OQ EyeScope technology, which provides a medical instrument for diagnosing retina disease that is easy to acquire, transport, and use in all optometry offices. Another $250,000 went to fourth place finisher Circle Optics, based in New York City, for its proprietary technology that captures real-time, errorless, 360° video in 12K.
Investments today were presented after a panel of judges from the OPI industry and venture capitalist community scored Luminate NY companies based on their business pitches. The more than 600 attendees at the event also had an opportunity to vote for their favorite company. The Audience Choice award for $10,000 went to Circle Optics.
Luminate NY, which is administered by NextCorps, is the world's largest business accelerator for startup firms in the optics, photonics and imaging OPI industries. The accelerator is based in Rochester and selects ten promising companies each year and provides comprehensive training and resources to advance their technologies and businesses. Applications are now being accepted for round III of the forward-thinking competition through September 23, 2019. Companies earning one of the ten available slots in the next cohort will receive a minimum investment of $100,000 and major investments of up to $1 million. Interested companies can apply here.
Last year's winner, Double Helix Optics, has actively leveraged the optics infrastructure in the Finger Lakes region. It has partnered with Rochester optics firms to develop and manufacture new products and has collaborated with the Ithaca/Cornell community to advance the fabrication of their proprietary phase mask technology.
Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, "Luminate NY, which strengthens the Finger Lakes region as a hub for optics, photonics and imaging, is one of several groundbreaking competitions that are accelerating early-stage companies and growing strategic industry clusters and economies around New York State."
Dr. Sujatha Ramanujan, Managing Director, Luminate NY said, "The caliber of companies participating and competing in Luminate NY is phenomenal. By continuing to use the rich ecosystem that exists here, these startups will be able to speed the delivery of their innovations to significantly impact industry, customers, and the Finger Lakes region."
Felix Kim, CEO, Ovitz said, "It's an honor and privilege to receive this award. Ovitz was born and raised in Rochester. At every critical moment, we had this community supporting us. We plan to continue to grow the company in Rochester and give back to this community."
Senator Joe Robach said, "Luminate NY has added to our region's reputation as a leader in optics, photonics and imaging since its inaugural competition in 2018. Congratulations to this year's winners and awardees, which now have the opportunity to grow and develop their vision right here in Rochester. As a member of the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council, I am proud to see this investment being made to a critical sector of our local economy and look forward to seeing the success and development of this year's Luminate NY winners."
Assemblyman Harry Bronson said, "Congratulations to today's winners of the Round II Luminate New York Lighting Awards. I know that today's winners and their entrepreneurial spirit will create projects that will provide the future of job and economic growth for our state and nation. This award helps build a brighter future for our families."
Rochester Mayor Lovely A. Warren said, "I want to congratulate Ovitz on its selection as the Round II winner of the Luminate NY competition here in Rochester. Ovitz, along with, VPG Medical, Lumedica Vision and Circle Optics are today's innovators 'lighting tomorrow with today'. I remain grateful to Governor Cuomo and Empire State Development for their support for Finger Lakes Forward and Luminate NY, helping our city remain at the forefront globally in optics, photonics and imaging, while creating more jobs, safer, more vibrant neighborhoods and better educational opportunities for our citizens."
Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chairs, Monroe Community College President Anne Kress and Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bob Duffy said, "Congratulations to all of the innovative teams that were selected to take part in Round II of the Luminate NY accelerator program in Rochester. This unique competition is helping the region to further establish itself as a global leader in the growing light-based products and services industry, helping to move the Finger Lakes forward for years to come."
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 $6.1 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.