PreAct takes top prize at Luminate NY
PreAct Technologies has been named the winner of Round 4 of the Luminate NY optics, photonics, and imaging startup accelerator competition. The Portland, Ore.-based PreAct Technologies received the “Company of the Year” award at Luminate Finals 2021, which was held virtually and sponsored by Optica, formerly The Optical Society. The company will receive $1 million in investment from New York State through the Finger Lakes Forward Upstate Revitalization Initiative. As required by the award, all winners of the competition will commit to establishing operations in Rochester for at least the next 18 months. PreAct Technologies plans to establish manufacturing in New York State.
“Luminate NY’s investments reflect our commitment to retaining New York’s distinction as a worldwide leader in optics, photonics, and imaging,” said Gov. Kathy Hochul. “Our state is a national leader in the nation for commercializing intellectual property in OPI, and these winning companies will further contribute to the growth of the Finger Lakes’ OPI industry and move the region’s economy forward.”
PreAct Technologies aims to bridge the gap between collision avoidance systems and active safety technology. Its TrueSense sensors make it possible to angle car seats away, deploy airbags earlier, and raise the car suspension just before a crash occurs to vastly reduce injuries and deaths. The system will also quickly replace all short-range sensors like radar, ultrasound, and cameras — a $30 billion/year market — used for ADAS, self-driving, and convenience features.
“Luminate exposed us to the benefits of setting up shop in NY on top of helping us recruit very specific optics and photonics engineering talent, find local companies that could produce our unique cameras, and also helped us refine our business operations across the board. I can’t imagine a better accelerator program,” said PreAct Technologies CEO Paul Drysch.
Princeton, NJ based Andluca Technologies was awarded the Outstanding Graduate Award and $400,000 in follow-on investment. Its wireless smart glass system—which uses transparent solar technology to selectively and efficiently convert ultraviolet (UV) light to electricity—can reduce building energy use by up to 40% while significantly enhancing occupant comfort and productivity. Two Massachusetts companies, Mesodyne (
Investments were presented after a panel of judges from the OPI industry and venture capitalist community scored the participating companies based on their business pitches. The more than 500 attendees at the virtual event also had an opportunity to vote for their favorite company. The Audience Choice award for $10,000 went to Layer Metrics, Inc. Layer Metrics is enabling reliable metal additive manufacturing by certifying part integrity, layer-by-layer, during the build.
Since its inception, Luminate NY has invested $12.4 million in 41 startups. The companies in the portfolio now share a net worth of more than $350 million. 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 has resulted in 150 jobs (100 full-time and 20 contract positions), with an additional 120 projected in the near future from two companies.
“Luminate NY is bringing companies from around the world to the Finger Lakes Region so that they can tap into the rich resources we have available to further their businesses and technologies,” said Sujatha Ramanujan, managing director of Luminate NY. “This ecosystem supports their desire to establish a U.S. presence and their goal of becoming global players in the industries they serve.”
The Luminate NY accelerator is based in Rochester and selects ten promising companies each year to participate in its six-month program. During this time, companies are provided with comprehensive training and resources to advance their technologies and businesses. Applications are now being accepted for Round 5 through January 10, 2022. Because of the challenges presented by Covid 19, 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 2022. 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.
Last year’s winner, SunDensity, has committed to establishing its pilot, high-tech manufacturing in Rochester, which is expected to create 60 jobs.