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SPIE 2023 Startup Challenge now accepting applications

20 Sep 2022

Competition open to startups working in healthcare and ‘deep tech’ fields will take place during next year’s Photonics West event.

Applications are now open for the next iteration of the SPIE Startup Challenge, with the annual entrepreneurial pitch competition set to take place during the Photonics West event early next year.

Now in its thirteenth year, the competition represents a platform for new businesses that use optics and photonics to create innovative products or applications. Participating teams compete for sponsored prizes, in addition to gaining increased visibility with potential investors. Previous winners have been awarded $10,000.

SPIE says that this year it is accepting applications from startup companies working on either healthcare or “deep technology”, with the competition open to both those at the pre-seed stage, and those actively raising series A or series B funding.

“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,” stated the society, which also publishes optics.org.

“The annual SPIE Startup Challenge…provides a distinctive and vibrant platform for optics and photonics startups that are creating innovative products, applications, and technologies.”

Industry panel
Judged by a panel featuring venture capitalists and business-development experts from the photonics industry, the competition will first identify ten finalists, before the overall winner is selected at the in-person finals during Photonics West.

SPIE says that the judging panel will vet applicants for their business case, financial case, and competitive advantages, with participants receiving feedback on their business and pitch from business-development experts and investors.

Several previous winners of the Startup Challenge that have gone on to wider commercial success - including Cellino Biotech, Double Helix Optics, PhotoniCare, C. Light Technologies, Circle Optics, and In A Blink.

The deadline for applications this year is October 20, with finalists due to be selected and notified by December 5. The winners will be announced January 31, during Photonics West, which is taking place as usual at San Francisco’s Moscone Center.

Although there is no fee to enter the competition, applicants selected as finalists will need to pitch in person at Photonics West - and will need to register for the conference to attend the finals. Students, post-doctoral researchers, professors, and other first-time business starters are all encouraged to apply.

• For more information about eligibility, and application details, click here.

LightTrans International GmbHOptikos Corporation ECOPTIKFocuslight TechnologiesLASEROPTIK GmbHSchaefter und Kirchhoff GmbHart Photonics GmbH
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