A Boston-based tech manufacturer will receive a $1 million award and set up operations in Rochester as part of its Company of the Year Award in Round 3 of the Luminate NY Accelerator Competition.
SunDensity, which originated at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will locate its manufacturing facility in Rochester. The company produces Photonic Smart Coatings (PSC) for utility solar power producers who need to reduce the cost of energy. Its nano-optical coating improves solar output by 20 percent more than other coatings for solar panels, thus propelling solar energy adoption into the next generation of clean power.
“We are really delighted to win this award. With this support, SunDensity is on its way to great success in New York State and beyond,” said SunDensity CEO Nishikant Sonwalkar.
Luminate’s Finals 2020 competition was held at the Optical Society’s International Frontiers in Optics & Laser Science APS/DLS conference. Funding comes from the state of New York through the Finger Lakes Forward Upstate Revitalization Initiative.
“Luminate NY’s strategic investments in these emerging companies have upheld New York as a worldwide leader in optics, photonics, and imaging,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday. “I congratulate SunDensity on winning Round 3 of the innovative Luminate NY competition and look forward to the company contributing to the growth of our region’s OPI industry, which will continue to help move the Finger Lakes economy forward.”
Finals 2020 marked the half-way point of the five-year, $25 million Luminate accelerator program. Since its inception, the program has invested $7 million in 30 startups. The companies in the portfolio now share a net worth of $160 million, officials said.
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 continues to be the epicenter of the OPI industry in North America.
Rochester-based Simulated Inanimate Models was awarded the Outstanding Graduate Award and $400,000. Its technology, SIM ARTS, offers an immersive “flight simulator for surgery” that eliminates patient risk by enabling surgeons to practice complete procedures on lifelike anatomical models in an augmented reality environment that does not require the presence of the expert instructing surgeon.
Rubitection, based in Pittsburgh, secured the Distinguished Graduate Award and $300,000 for its Rubitect Assessment System (RAS), which provides early bedsore detection and management tools. Honorable Achievements and $250,000 in funding each went to two companies: AkknaTek — a Germany based company providing a Lens Reviewer, Optical Imaging System that reduces post-operative refractive surprises after cataract surgery — and Nodetect, a Denmark company offering a portable, rapid nanosensor for analyzing biochemicals in the agriculture and farming industries.
“Luminate NY continues to give companies from around the world a resource-rich place to establish U.S. operations and to advance the caliber of their technology and business,” said Sujatha Ramanujan, managing director of Luminate NY. “It’s this type of inventive ecosystem and statewide support that makes the Finger Lakes region a smart destination for OPI based companies.”
The Luminate NY accelerator is based in Rochester and selects 10 promising companies each year to participate in its six-month program. During that time, companies are provided with comprehensive training and resources to advance their technologies and businesses. Applications are now being accepted for Round 4 through Jan. 7, 2021.
Because of the challenges presented by the pandemic, 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 2021. 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.
“The Luminate NY competition has been a great addition to Monroe County over the last several years and has really tapped into our region’s entrepreneurial spirit and storied leadership in innovation, photonics and advanced technology,” said Monroe County Executive Adam Bello. “The seed money that Luminate NY provides for these start-ups is critically important and can help to grow jobs and ideas right here in Monroe County. Congratulations to this year’s award winners.”