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Swave Photonics were the 2023 SPIE Startup Challenge champions From left, Jenoptiks Ralf Kuschnereit, Swave Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer Theo Marescaux, Swave CEO Mike Noonen, and 2023 SPIE Vice President Peter de Groot Credit Joey Cobbs

Seven early-stage startup companies have been selected to compete for a top prize of $10,000 at the 14th annual SPIE Startup Challenge at Photonics West on 30 January.

The SPIE Startup Challenge is a competitive entrepreneurial platform for new businesses that utilize optics and photonics for innovative products or applications. Participating teams are competing for sponsored prizes, in addition to gaining increased visibility with potential investors. Cash prizes of $10,000, $5,000, and $2,500, provided by Startup Challenge Founding Partner Jenoptik, will be awarded to the top three finalists. The SPIE Startup Challenge is also supported by Lead Sponsors Hamamatsu and Thorlabs and Supporting Sponsor NextCorps Luminate.

The industry-judged competition will hear from teams of finalists pitching new products in photonics-enabled healthcare and deep tech. Competition judges include venture capitalists and business-development experts from the photonics industry who will vet applicants for their business case, financial case, and competitive advantages. Teams competing in the Startup Challenge will get feedback on their business and pitch from business-development experts and investors.

This year's products encompass innovations in medical applications, photovoltaic technology, and manufacturing. The seven 2024 SPIE Startup Challenge finalists and their technologies are:

  • ClearVision: A non-invasive alternative to permanent vision-correction surgeries based on corneal sculpting with femtosecond laser technology.
  • Soliddd: A lens array coupled with a light-field display designed for the next generation of macular-degeneration vision correction.
  • UriMetrics: A lens-free imaging solution for reducing the incidence of Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infections (CAUTI).
  • Momentum Optics: A laser-projection-based manufacturing machine for glass and ceramics optics that eliminates the need for specialized tooling, molds, or photomasks, increasing the speed of optical manufacturing while decreasing cost.
  • Photonect: A technology that decreases the insertion loss between a photonic chip and an optical fiber, offering a four-fold improvement to current industry standards.
  • Solaires Entreprises, Inc.: Perovskite-based photovoltaic modules capable of recycling indoor light to power battery-driven devices without connecting to the grid.
  • TRAQC: A real-time inspection solution utilizing THz radiation and metamaterial technology for the printed electronics industry, ensuring quality while reducing waste.

More information about the 2024 finalists and the SPIE Startup Challenge can be found here.

Light-based technologies enable developments in a proliferating number of areas, from healthcare and high-speed communications to quantum computing, AR/VR/MR, and self-driving vehicles. The annual SPIE Startup Challenge provides a distinctive and vibrant platform for optics and photonics startups that are creating novel products, applications, and technologies. Startup Challenge winners that have gone on to wider commercial success include Cellino BiotechDouble Helix OpticsPhotoniCareC. Light TechnologiesCircle Optics, and In A Blink.

For more information and to register for SPIE Photonics West, please visit:

Labels: SPIE,startup. Photonics West

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