Photonics Startups Selected to Compete for $85,000 in Prizes, Business Support

Photonics Startups Selected to Compete for $85,000 in Prizes, Business Support - Dave Menzies Editor Publisher Startup TechWire
BELLINGHAM, Wash. & CARDIFF, England -- Twenty-four photonics business startups have been selected from a large field of applicants to pitch and share in $85,000 in prizes and business support available in the 2018 SPIE Startup Challenge, held during SPIE Photonics West. Sponsored by SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, the Startup Challenge is in its 8th year of highlighting new businesses solving problems with photonics. A panel of judges comprised of venture capitalists and business development experts will judge two rounds of pitches spanning a wide range of technologies, from microscopy to lasers and remote sensing. Improving healthcare is the focus for many of the entrepreneurs, with teams bringing life-changing tools for photodynamic therapy, drug discovery, and neurodegenerative disease detection, among others in the biophotonics and point of care technologies track. 


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The sensors track features several teams competing to bring a viable handheld food-safety detection device to market. Better tools for AR/VR, eye care, and the dairy industry round out the creative solutions of these aspiring entrepreneurs.

The SPIE Startup Challenge is supported by Founding Partner Jenoptik, Lead Sponsor Edmund Optics, and Supporting Sponsors Trumpf, Luminar, and the Luminate Accelerator. Jenoptik is sponsoring cash prizes including $10,000 for first place, $5,000 for second place, and $2,500 for third place. The first-place winner will also receive $5,000 worth of products from Edmund Optics.

President of Founding Partner, Jenoptik, and SPIE Fellow, Jay Kumler is once again amazed at the quality of applicants for the Startup Challenge. "The impact of photonics on our daily lives is evident in the finalists of this year's Startup Challenge," Kumler said. "These entrepreneurs are presenting new and potentially disruptive products to solve real-world problems. From drug discovery, imaging diagnostics, food safety to virtual reality, this international group of finalists will make the pitch presentation more exciting than ever!"

Immediately before the Startup Challenge Semi-finals, more advanced teams will make rapid-fire pitches in the Photonics Fast Pitch Lunch held at the Park Central Hotel. This session of 2-minute pitches connects the innovators to a room full of investors and potential partners.

Pitches from the Startup Challenge semi-finalist teams will take place on 30 January in the Park Central Hotel and are open to the public with a free conference registration. The top teams from the semi-finals will advance to the finals competition, held on 31 January in the Moscone Center.

Semi-finalists will also pitch their product on the Photonics West exhibit floor during the Startup Alley on Thursday, 1 February. This informal information session with the teams is interactive and provides the opportunity for more detailed conversations with the entrepreneurs.

Semi-finalists were named in three tracks

Track 1 – Biophotonics and Point of Care technologies

C. Light Technologies, Inc. - C. Light, the fast, objective, and most accurate retinal eye-tracking tool made to help doctors detect the mildest of neuro-deficits, allowing their patients to do what they love safely and for as long as possible. Christy Sheehy, C. Light Technologies, Inc.

CareWear Corp. - CareWear Firefly is a wearable therapeutic light patch using printed LEDs and CFQD film to treat pain and accelerate recovery from soft tissue injury. Chris Castel, CareWear Corp.

Clearview-App - Clearview plans to further develop technology to enable quantitative hematology laboratory testing at the point of patient without reagents using only a finger prick of blood. Andres Zuluaga, Clearview-App, Inc.

Harmonigenic Corporation - Harmonigenic, life orchestrated. Revealing what people want to know to improve cancer treatment decisions. Robert Hill, Harmonigenic Corporation

Instapath Inc. - Instapath has developed a microscopy system that provides an exact picture of cancer biopsies within seconds, providing essential biopsy quality evaluation to ensure an accurate final diagnosis. Mei Wang

LChip - Veterinary lab-on-a-chip device for rapid diagnostic of animal diseases. Easy to use and accurate, with 1 single drop of blood provides quantitatives results in less than 10min. Andre Guedes, LChip

Lightrino - Improving the current treatment of dry eye syndrome by distinguishing subgroups of dry eye, so that patients can be treated with appropriate eye drops, or targeted surgeries. Aizhong Zhang, Lightrino

Nanotools Bioscience - Revolutionizing the drug discovery process by providing affordable high-quality screening tools that reduce drug development times and improve screening accuracy. Elena Molokanova, Nanotools Bioscience

P+ Diagnostics - Clogging of blood stream at you heart or brain stops your healthy life immediately. Our technology will enable to detect the risk at early stage with a simple blood test. Nao Nitta, Japan Science and Technology Agency

PhotoniCare - The ClearView is a simple, low-cost imaging platform that enables users to see through tissue. Visualize the middle ear without cutting the eardrum open. Ryan Shelton, PhotoniCare

Track 2 – Imaging, Displays, Lasers, Semiconductors

Bluefield - Bluefield will keep earth cool with microsatellite-mounted sensors tracking methane, the most dangerous - and valuable - greenhouse gas. John Atkinson, Bluefield

MagAssemble – We not only make optics, we make your optics better. Mas Crawford, MagAssemble

RCS Photonics - Developing revolutionary laser diode technology that is tunable, compact, efficient and integrable: pushing the mid-infrared for various applications ranging across the defense, industrial, research, communication and medical sectors. Shamsul Arafin

ultralumina - Our light source provides the customer a brightness that is five orders of magnitudes larger than alternative technologies in the deep ultraviolet. Sofia Trapper, ultralumina GmbH

Semiautomatic Semiotics - Our venture plans to create headset free VR to transport an individual at will through beautiful landscapes, imaginary settings & famous trails. Zenah Khawaja

e-skin Displays, Inc - Imagine being able to change the look and feel of any surface you interact with in your everyday life - from your electronics, to your clothing, to your home walls and furniture. Nagendra Nagarajayya, e-skin Displays, Inc.

Vitrum3D - Specialty Resins for 3D printing of transparent fused silica glass. Dorothea Helmer

Track 3 – Sensors, Wearables, Internet of Things

SafetySpect, Inc - SafetySpect scanning technologies allow cost effective real time scanning and detection of food contaminants and quality grading (processing time in seconds). Kenneth Barton, SafetySpect, Inc.

Labby - We are converting the ubiquitous smartphone into a high-tech food/beverage analytics lab. Our mission is to create a 'billion labs' all around the world. With everyone carrying their labs in their pockets, the possibilities are endless! Anshuman Das, MIT

NIREOS - An innovative technology to characterize samples (food, water, drugs, ...) in a remote and non-destructive way through their interaction with light. Fabrizio Preda, NIREOS

E.O.I Technologies Inc. - We have developed a first of its kind non-interferometric laser vibrometer. It is ideally suited as a cost-effective alternative for an LDV. Alex Sulkin, E.O.I Technologies Inc.

Orbis Diagnostics - Orbis will allow smart dairy farmers to innovate by providing key data about core business - producing excellent milk from the healthiest animals in the most sustainable way. Cather Simpson, Orbis Diagnostics

Senorics - Senorics' NIR sensor technology would have saved Snow White from eating that apple. One quick scan reveals hazards AND the full nutritional breakdown. Ronny Timmreck, Senorics

Smart Baby Car Seat - The smart baby car seat (CarNanny) is a seat incorporated with optic sensors that serves as an internet of baby things about the well-being of a baby. Imagine Amazon Echo in a baby car seat with optic sensors. Chukwunonso Arinze

SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, is an educational not-for-profit organization founded in 1955 to advance light-based science, engineering and technology. The Society serves nearly 264,000 constituents from approximately 166 countries, offering conferences and their published proceedings, continuing education, books, journals, and the SPIE Digital Library. In 2017, SPIE provided $4 million in support of education and outreach programs. www.spie.org