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Photonics West start-up challenge offers $10,000 first prize

02 Nov 2012

Expanded event is aimed at pre-revenue companies started up by students, post-docs and professors.

$10,000 first prize

$10,000 first prize

Budding photonics entrepreneurs: get your elevator pitches ready!

Next year’s Photonics West conference and exhibition in San Francisco will host an expanded start-up challenge, with $10,000 on offer to the eventual winner of the competition.

A feature at the SPIE-organized event for the past few years, this time the start-up challenge will comprise both a semi-final and final stage.

The semi-final, featuring 20 short-listed applications, is scheduled to take place Monday, February 4, with the final, featuring the ten pitches judged to be the strongest, following on Wednesday, February 6 in a session that will be open to the public.

$10,000 first prize
The winning pitch will receive $10,000, with $5000 for second-place and $2500 for third. Each of the ten participants to make the final round will also win a place at the UC-Davis entrepreneurship academy “boot camp”.

According to the competition rules, participants must have an optics or photonics technology or application to present publicly as the basis for a viable new business.

That business must be at the “pre-revenue” stage – meaning that companies which have already sold products are ineligible, although those with funding attracted through investors or grants are allowed.

Pitches for the competition must be no longer than three minutes in duration, a maximum of two slides is allowed per presentation, and the pitch must be made by a member of the team making the application.

The 2013 event is being sponsored by Jenoptik and SPIE, and the deadline for applications is December 1st, 2012. Visit the SPIE Start-up Challenge page for full details, and submit your application here.

Past winners
Last year, the biophotonics start-up challenge was won by Carlos Serpa from the University of Coimbra in Portugal, and his start-up company LaserLeap Technologies. Serpa’s winning pitch described a pulsed laser device that aids the delivery of drugs through a patient’s skin.

The “transdermal” method is said to open up a temporary perforation in the skin by generating high-frequency ultrasound, allowing medicine or cosmetics to be delivered painlessly, before the perforation closes up after a couple of minutes.

One of the reasons that the 2012 judging panel selected it as the winning pitch was because the idea offered the potential to sell both the laser and the disposable devices that are used to generate the ultrasound.

Previous winners also include Northwestern University research associate Hariharan Subramanian, who pitched a technology that promises early cancer detection. Subramanian’s start-up, called NanoCytomics, is looking to develop a spectroscopic method that can be used to detect lung cancer from a simple cheek swab.

Duke University’s Adam Wax on the start-up challenge:

Knight Optical LtdOcean InsightNanoscribe GmbHPhoton Engineering, LLCDelta Optical Thin Film A/SAUREA TECHNOLOGYBoston Electronics Corporation
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