New York State launches $10m photonics start- up competition

New York State has established a $10 million business competition to help photonics start-ups commercialise new technology. The Photonics Venture Challenge will take place once a year in Rochester and a top prize of $1 million will be given to the most promising start-up company. Jim Senall, president of High

Tech Rochester, discussed the newly-launched competition during the Startup Challenge at Photonics West. The business challenge will begin in autumn 2017 with the selection of 10 to 15 start-ups, each receiving an initial investment of between $100,000 and $125,000 in exchange for equity. Participants will go

through a four- to six-month accelerator programme, where they will build products, access customers, refine their business models, and gain initial market traction. The programme will provide work space in Rochester, as well as access to regional assets, resources, labs, and connections to mentors and industry partners. Each year’s competition will conclude with a large-scale demo day, where all teams present in a public forum to an audience of venture capitalists, optics and photonics companies, and other industry players. The three most promising

start-ups will compete for additional best-in-class funding investments: $1 million for first prize and $500,000 for second and third prizes, each to be announced at the demo day. The winners must reside and operate in Rochester for at least one year following their award, a region that is fast becoming a leading hub for photonics technology. In December 2016, it was announced that the American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics (AIM Photonics) – developing PIC infrastructure – will base its main production facility in Rochester at On Semiconductor’s existing site.

Laser gene therapy treatment wins Startup Challenge


arvard University spin- off Cellino Biotech has won the 2017 SPIE

Startup Challenge at Photonics West. Cellino’s laser-activated gene therapy technology was chosen as the most promising early stage photonics business by a panel of judges. Cellino’s CSO and Harvard

graduate Marinna Madrid pitched the company’s technology, a light-based intracellular delivery technique for treating viral or genetic diseases such as HIV or leukaemia. The group was awarded $10,000, along with $5,000 worth of products from Edmund Optics. The Harvard team say that

they’ve pioneered the use of laser-activated metallic micropyramids that absorb light to generate microbubbles. When cells are cultured on the micropyramids, these microbubbles come into close contact with the cell membrane to generate transient pores through which delivery cargo can diffuse into the cell. In proof-of-concept experiments, Cellino has shown that its technique can deliver gene-editing tools into cells at an efficiency of 80 per cent while maintaining viability in 97 per cent of the

treated cells, at a throughput of 500,000 cells per minute. The start-up says the throughput can be increased simply by fabricating larger substrates and using faster laser scanning techniques. Cellino’s goal is to develop and commercialise the laser-activated intracellular delivery technique to meet a critical unmet biomedical need. Madrid noted during her pitch that currently no available intracellular delivery method concurrently offers all the characteristics necessary for successful therapy: high efficiency, viability and throughput; delivery of diverse cargo into different cell types; and scalability.

Second place and $5,000 was awarded to Zeev Zalevsky,

CTO and founder of Bar Ilan University spin-off IC Touch, for a device that translates visual information captured by a camera into spatial tactile stimulation of the cornea. This allows blind or visually impaired people to effectively ‘see’.

Third place and $2,500

was awarded to Adam Wax, president and chief scientist at Lumedica, for the company’s OCT scanner, OQ EyeScope. The scanner is priced at only $10,000, making the technology much more accessible. It uses optical components mass- produced for mobile phones. The SPIE Startup Challenge is supported by Jenoptik, Edmund Optics, Trumpf, Open Photonics, and the US National Science Foundation (NSF).

Prism Award winners tackle disease detection, food safety and precision manufacturing

Nine new products providing valuable capabilities in detecting disease, assessing water or food quality, and enabling advanced precision manufacturing have been named winners of the 2017 Prism Awards for Photonics Innovation. The Prism Awards recognise

innovative products that are newly available on the open market. The award ceremony took place during a gala banquet at Photonics West on 1 February. The winning companies and

products were: a femtosecond fibre laser 3D printer from PolarOnyx, combining additive and subtractive manufacturing; a breathalyser for tuberculosis from Rapid Biosensor Systems; a device that turns a smartphone into a light spectrometer from Alphanov; a handheld hyperspectral imager from TruTag Technologies; a 1,030nm and 1,064nm ultrashort pulsed seeder for fibre lasers from QD Laser; ultralow-loss mid-infrared optical coatings from Crystalline

Mirror Solutions; a laser scanner for mapping interiors from Leica Geosystems; beam shaping optics for fibre lasers from Nufern; and a mid-infrared supercontinuum laser from Thorlabs.

‘Photonics technology drives so much of global and local economies and changes lives everywhere in so many ways,’ commented SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs. ‘This year’s Prism Awards entries have moved the industry forward.’

16 Electro Optics March 2017

@electrooptics |

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