PreAct Technologies Awarded Top Honors and $1 Million in Investment; Four Additional Companies Secure Follow-on Funding Investment
Applications Now Being Accepted for Round 5 of the Optics, Photonics and Imaging Competition until January 10, 2022
NYS Investment Complements "Finger Lakes Forward" - the Region's Comprehensive Strategy to Revitalize Communities and Grow the Economy
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced PreAct Technologies as the winner of Round 4 of the Luminate NY optics, photonics, and imaging startup accelerator competition. The Portland, Oregon-based PreAct Technologies received the "Company of the Year" award at Luminate Finals 2021, which was held virtually and sponsored by Optica, formerly The Optical Society. 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 Rochester for at least the next 18 months. PreAct Technologies plans to establish manufacturing in New York State.
Luminate NY, which is administered by NextCorps, is the world's largest business accelerator for emerging companies that have optics, photonics, and imaging (OPI) enabled technologies.
"Luminate NY's investments reflect our commitment to retaining New York's distinction as a worldwide leader in optics, photonics, and imaging," Governor Hochul said. "Our state is a national leader in the nation for commercializing intellectual property in OPI, and these winning companies will further contribute to the growth of the Finger Lakes' OPI industry and move the region's economy forward."
PreAct Technologies aims to bridge the gap between collision avoidance systems and active safety technology. Its TrueSense sensors make it possible to angle car seats away, deploy airbags earlier, and raise the car suspension just before a crash occurs to vastly reduce injuries and deaths. The system will also quickly replace all short-range sensors like radar, ultrasound, and cameras — a $30 billion/year market — used for ADAS, self-driving, and convenience features.
PreAct Technologies CEO Paul Drysch said, "Luminate exposed us to the benefits of setting up shop in NY on top of helping us recruit very specific optics and photonics engineering talent, find local companies that could produce our unique cameras, and also helped us refine our business operations across the board. I can't imagine a better accelerator program."
Princeton, NJ based Andluca Technologies was awarded the Outstanding Graduate Award and $400,000 in follow-on investment. Its wireless smart glass system—which uses transparent solar technology to selectively and efficiently convert ultraviolet (UV) light to electricity—can reduce building energy use by up to 40% while significantly enhancing occupant comfort and productivity. Two Massachusetts companies, Mesodyne (Somerville, MA) and DynoCardia (Cambridge, MA) secured the Distinguished Graduate Awards and $250,000 each. Mesodyne is developing a new kind of power generator that converts fuel to electricity via light. The generator is silent with no moving parts, operates on any fuel and has 10 times the energy density of lithium ion batteries. DynoCardia's ViTrack is the first cuff-less, wrist-wearable technology to offer direct, beat-to-beat measurement of BP with the accuracy of intra-arterial lines. Honorable Achievement and $200,000 in funding went to Rochester, New York's Owl Autonomous Imaging. Its patented 3D Thermal Ranger provides HD thermal imaging with precision ranging, representing a 200x improvement in resolution and cloud density over LiDAR.
Investments today were presented after a panel of judges from the OPI industry and venture capitalist community scored the participating companies based on their business pitches. The more than 500 attendees at the virtual event also had an opportunity to vote for their favorite company. The Audience Choice award for $10,000 went to Layer Metrics, Inc. Layer Metrics is enabling reliable metal additive manufacturing by certifying part integrity, layer-by-layer, during the build.
Layer Metrics, Inc. CEO Clare Murphy said, "Luminate helped us establish synergies with the local ecosystem, access engineering and development support, identify key hires, connect with strategics, gain market traction, and drive revenues."
Since its inception, Luminate NY has invested $12.4 million in 41 startups. The companies in the portfolio now share a net worth of more than $350 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.
Dr. Sujatha Ramanujan, Managing Director, Luminate NY, said, "Luminate NY is bringing companies from around the world to the Finger Lakes Region so that they can tap into the rich resources we have available to further their businesses and technologies. This ecosystem supports their desire to establish a U.S. presence and their goal of becoming global players in the industries they serve."
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 5 through January 10, 2022. Because of the challenges presented by Covid 19, Luminate has adjusted its participation requirements. Teams that can physically locate to Rochester for the six-month program will receive $100,000 in funding upon program start in April 2022. Teams that are unable to locate 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.
Last year's winner, SunDensity, has committed to establishing its pilot, high-tech manufacturing in Rochester, which is expected to create 60 jobs.
Empire State Development Chief Operating Officer and Executive Deputy Commissioner Kevin Younis said, "Luminate NY's innovative competition and strategic investments are reinforcing New York State's global leadership in the optics, photonics and imaging industries — thanks in large part to the fantastic opportunities being created for minority and female entrepreneurs in this high-tech sector. Congratulations to PreAct Technologies on winning Round 4 and we look forward to seeing the impact that these forward-thinking companies will continue to have on the Finger Lakes region's growing OPI hub."
State Senator Jeremy Cooney said, "Rochester will continue to be a leader in optics, photonics, and imaging thanks to the commitment to our region from Governor Hochul and programs like Luminate NY's startup accelerator competition. The investment in our region will encourage innovation and lead to further economic development. We are excited to welcome PreAct Technologies to our community and look forward to their long-term success."
State Assembly Member Harry Bronson said, "Congratulations to today's winners of the Round IV 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."
Monroe County Executive Adam Bello said, "The Luminate NY initiative spurs critical growth in our high-tech optics, photonics and imaging industries. The Round 4 winners announced today are further proof that Monroe County is poised to be a global leader in the light-based products and services sector. I thank Gov. Hochul and Empire State Development for investing in our region's potential and congratulate PreAct Technologies, Andluca Technologies, Mesodyne, DynoCardia and Owl Autonomous Imaging."
Optica CEO Elizabeth Rogan said, "We were excited to participate in LuminateNY's Finals Competition as a sponsor. This is a vital program for the optics and photonics community, and supporting innovation in OPI is a key priority for Optica."
For additional information about Luminate NY, visit Luminate.org.
For additional information about NextCorps, visit NextCorps.org.
Accelerating Finger Lakes Forward
Today's announcement complements "Finger Lakes Forward," the region's comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. 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.
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 New York State Regional Economic Development Councils and the marketing of "I LOVE NY," the State's iconic tourism brand. For more information on Regional Councils and Empire State Development, please visit https://regionalcouncils.ny.gov.
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