Thirty-five photonics business startups from seven countries will participate in the 2019 SPIE Startup Challenge semi-finals, held during SPIE Photonics West on 5 February. On 6 February, six finalists will compete for cash prizes from Jenoptik as well as for business support from Challenge partners and sponsors. Prizes include $10,000 for first place as well as $5,000 in products from Edmund Optics; $5,000 for second place; and $2,500 for third place. In addition, Early-stage Entrepreneurship travel grants will be awarded to three of the semi-finalists.
The SPIE Startup Challenge, which showcases new businesses that are addressing critical needs with photonics, is in its 9th year, and is enabled by Founding Partner Jenoptik, Lead Sponsors Edmund Optics, Thorlabs, and B&W Tek CEO Sean Wang, and Supporting Sponsors Trumpf and the Luminate Accelerator. Judges at every stage include venture capitalists and business-development experts who vet the applicants for their business case, financial case, and competitive advantages. The innovations to be presented this year range from improvements in prostate-cancer care and early detection of retinal diseases, to revolutionary, speedy 3D printing technology and commercial quantum technology for secure communication links.
SPIE Fellow and President of Jenoptik Jay Kumler was impressed with the caliber of the applicants and is looking forward to seeing the live pitches: "Jenoptik is excited to see the Startup Challenge growing with more teams and a real diversity of applications," he said. "We are proud to support this international event that showcases the power of optics and photonics to solve important problems, an event that also enables investors to engage with entrepreneurs who have the talent, passion and ideas to change our world!"
Both the semi-finals and finals of this exciting pitching competition are open to anyone with a free Photonics West exhibition registration. Semi-finalists will also pitch their products on the Photonics West exhibit floor's Startup Alley on 7 February.
The Semi-finalists' areas of innovation cover three tracks; team leads for the pitches are bolded below.
Track 1 - Biophotonics and Point-of-Care Technologies
• Avenda Health, USA, Brittany Berry-Pusey: Avenda Health is treating prostate cancer in the clinic while preserving quality of life.
• CYBO, Inc., Japan, Nao Nitta: Intelligent image-activated cell sorting (IACS) works as a Rosetta Stone for single cell biology, which integrates discoveries from microscopy, cytometry, and molecular biology.
• EarlySight, Switzerland, Mathieu Kunzi: Imaging early signs of retinal diseases.
• Falcon Photonics, USA, Renan Moreira: Painless skin cancer diagnostics through integrated optics.
• Kilo Medical Solutions LLC, USA, Kashyap Venuthurupalli: Brise-Solette is the first integrated technology solution that addresses light stimuli for isolettes to keep premature babies safe and reduce costs.
• Leuko Labs, USA, Carlos Castro Gonzalez: The first non-invasive white-cell monitoring device to improve quality of life and outcomes in chemotherapy patients.
• LightSpeed Microscopy, Inc., USA, Nicholas Reder: Bringing pathology into the 21st Century with open-top, light-sheet microscopy.
• LiveFocus LLC, USA, Hanyang Huang: LiveFocus puts an affordable mobile whole-slide scanner in the hand of individual pathologists to streamline their workflow.
• Qsensus, LLC, USA, Abraham Qavi: Qsensus has developed a technology to drastically improve the performance of conventional ultrasound imaging.
• Thericon, Germany, Nikolaos Deliolanis: Real-time, multispectral imaging delivers information to surgeons which is unavailable with conventional endoscopes, improving surgical outcome.
Track 2 - Imaging, Displays, Lasers, & Semiconductors
• Arovia, USA, Alex Wesley: Arovia gives you the freedom to do more in more places by, ultimately, creating a pocketable, full-size TV.
• Eagle Photonics, Japan, Chao Zhang: Design innovative solutions to contribute to the emerging 3D revolution, providing high-precision 3D laser scanners and high-definition 3D data.
• e-skin Display Inc., USA, Nagendra Nagarajayya: Developed e-skin Paint, the world's first full-color, structural color paint.
• H24E Innova Ltd., United Kingdom, Tadashi Kubo: Develop and sell a H2 generator that uses an ultra-short pulse laser with photocatalyst that splits water into hydrogen more efficiently than electrolysis.
• Magtera, Inc., USA, Boris Tankhilevich: Magtera is enabling practical use of the entire terahertz spectrum with the first low cost, chip-scale laser, tunable across the full terahertz band.
• Nanograss Solar LLC, USA, Pouya Dianat: Patented technology solves a bottleneck in ultra-fast tele/data communications by reducing overall $-per-bit of information for network operators.
• Oblate Optics Inc., USA, Rajesh Menon: By getting rid of 99.99% of the weight of IR optics, we enable ultra-lightweight cameras for UAVs, satellites, soldiers.
• Opto Biolabs, Germany, Kathrin Brenker: Opto Biolabs' core product is a temperature-controlled LED illumination device that allows the analysis of optogenetic experiments in a flow cytometer.
• Optomel, United Kingdom, Damian Gardiner: Optomel allows innovators to grow new volume photonic markets through our flexible, scalable and cost-enabling reflective optical filter technology.
• PolarNon, Switzerland, Mariia Timofeeva: PolarNon is a fully automated polarimetric multiphoton microscope targeted for non-destructive characterization of materials and components for the optoelectronic and semiconductor industry.
• Radiance 4D, USA, Hossein Heidari: A revolutionary 3D printing technology inspired by tomography prints the entire 3D volume of an object at once, unlike slow, layer-based alternatives.
• Refined Laser Systems, Germany, Maximilian Brinkmann: High-speed tunable lasers, continuously tunable across 700nm in under 5ms. Compact, maintenance-free and portable due to our patented all-fiber setup.
• Skyphos Industries Inc., USA, Elliot McAllister: Make it in minutes not months: go direct to production with Skyphos 3D printing for uFluidics, POC/diagnostics, IVD & liquid handling.
• Trestle Optics, USA, Adam Hanninen: Specializes in extending the performance and availability of commercial optical components from the visible to the mid-infrared (MIR).
Track 3 - Sensors, Wearables, and Internet of Things
• Biorasis, Inc., USA, Allen Legassey: Developed the smallest and most accurate, continuous, glucose-monitoring system to vastly improve the quality of life of diabetics and restore their active lifestyle.
• CURVE-ONE, France, Emmanuel Hugot: The development of curved sensors is a bio-inspired approach. Mimicking the eye retina, this new technology will impact every future imaging system.
• Dermadiagnostics, USA, Eydis Lima: A noninvasive, wearable patch that allows for better detection of high-risk biomarkers leading to early detection of malignant gynecologic cancer.
• Kaia Corp., USA, Umit Kaya: Measuring fluid behavior and characteristics for microscale channels of microfluidic chips and lab-on-a-chip applications.
• Laclarée, France, Bruno Berge: Laclarée offers presbyopes to retrieve natural-focusing and pre-presbyopic vision with patented adaptive eyeglasses meeting aesthetic standards.
• Max-IR Labs, USA, Katy Roodenko: Max-IR Labs develops infrared sensors for biochemical analysis, from water quality monitoring to urinalysis.
• Nanoscope Technologies LLC, USA, Bahram Jozi: NS Drag-In is an artificially intelligent, affordable, portable, plug and play, easy to use modular multifunctional optical micro-manipulator sensor.
• Qunnect LLC, USA, Mael Flament: Qunnect has developed the world's first commercial photonic-atomic quantum technology for inter-city ultra-secure quantum communication links.
• SaNoor Technologies, Saudi Arabia, Chao Shen: SaNoor's high-speed laser transceiver-based LiFi system enables 100,000x faster data communication links between underwater devices.
• Senorics, Germany, Ronny Timmreck: Senorics' disruptive NIR-detector technology transfers NIR-spectroscopy from the lab to a widespread mass-market tool for industry and consumers.
• Unistellar, USA, Franck Marchis: Unistellar is reinventing astronomy with the Enhanced Vision Telescope, a combination of optics and image-processing technology making astronomy fun.