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One month left to enter Startup Challenge 2016

13 Oct 2015

SPIE’s annual competition for photonics entrepreneurs closes November 20th.

SPIE, the organizer of the Startup Challenge, the annual photonics innovation competition for new entrants to the industry, has reminded would-be competitors that applications for the 2016 event need to be submitted by November 20. The competition, which climaxes each year with a gala awards event at Photonics West in San Francisco, is open to entrepreneurs, start-ups and emerging companies working in optics and photonics.

Dirk Fabian, SPIE’s Student Services Lead, Membership, commented, “With over $20,000 in cash, prizes including technical equipment, marketing promotion of the winners’ ideas and more, the Startup Challenge is a great opportunity to be seen, to learn about the business, and to win.”

Everyone's a winner

Previous winning ideas have included an optical guide to minimize accidental damage in surgery, a photonic “needle” to test for breast cancer, and a 3D inspection system designed to check the surface flushness of fasteners (rivets) in the aerospace industry.

The 2015 Startup Challenge winner was Jonathan Gunn, whose company Briteseed developed SafeSnips, an optical tissue detecting technology to guide surgeons when operating on patients. Gunn told optics.org: "We identified a tangible clinical medical need. Optics research has really brought us to the point where we can create a beneficial technology like this and it is being used in operating rooms across the world."

But it isn’t all about the winner, either, as runners-up have often also benefited from the opportunity to present their work to a high-level panel of industry reprentatives, investors and academics.

For example, E. Hooman Banaei, founder and CEO of Everix, Orlando, FL, US, who entred the 2015 competition recently told SPIE, "I didn't win first place but I did receive great feedback, learned how to refine my pitch, and met two people who have since become my start up advisors."

How to enter

To be eligible, participants must have an optics or photonics technology or application that they wish to publicly present as the basis for a viable new business. Established companies must be pre-revenue at the time of the written application. Pre-revenue in this case means revenue generated from products sold, not funding acquired through investors, grants, or other support.

The focus is on new businesses and potential startups. Therefore, companies that have already sold products are ineligible to enter the competition. Students, post-docs, professors and other first-time business starters are encouraged to apply. The Startup Challenge accepts applications from the worldwide community of entrepreneurs. Further details on eligibility and application process are available on the SPIE website.

About the Author

Matthew Peach is a contributing editor to optics.org.

Ealing UGSpectrum Scientific Inc. -  SSI OpticsSACHER LASERTECHNIK GMBHDiffraction InternationalBristol Instruments, Inc.Nanoscribe GmbHSynopsys, Optical Solutions Group
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