11 Jan 2017
SPIE Photonics West 2017 is almost upon us and with it diverse photonics competitions and new promotional events.
Two SPIE-led showcases of photonics innovation – one now well-established and one brand new forum – will take place at Photonics West in San Francisco at the end of January. The Startup Challenge, which has rapidly grown over recent years to become a bellwether for determining next year's hot technologies, will be joined by the Photonics Fast Pitch Lunch, which is designed to be a platform for seasoned entrepreneurs seeking funds (see below).
Startup Challenge 20172017 SPIE Startup Challenge. Would-be entrepreneurs from universities and technology companies will present their light-based technology brainwaves to a panel of judges comprising venture capitalists and business development experts.
“Both the quality and range of this year's finalists in the Startup Challenge are inspiring,” said Jay Kumler, President of Jenoptik Optical Systems, a long-term supporter of the event. “Some are addressing global health needs such as clean water, food safety, prenatal care, and cancer detection. Other semi-finalists are bringing photonics technology to market for wearables, connected cars, artificial intelligence, and augmented reality.”
Presentations from the semi-finalists will take place 31 January in the Park Central Hotel in San Francisco. The top six will then progress to the final round on 1 February in hotly-contested competition inside the Moscone Center. Both qualifying and final events are open to the public with free registration.
Jenoptik is sponsoring cash prizes including $10,000 for first place, $5,000 for second place, and $2,500 for third place. The first-place winner will also receive $5,000 worth of products from Edmund Optics. Semi-finalists also receive product demonstration time on the SPIE Photonics West Exhibition floor, and other marketing support.
Semi-finalists this year are for the first time sorted into three distinct technology tracks:
Track 1: Biophotonics, Point of Care
Photonics Fast Pitch Lunch
SPIE is this year launching a new lunchtime forum designed for experienced entrepreneurs to succinctly present business pitches and value propositions to potential investors. After the presentations of 90-second pitches, lunch will be served, with networking opportunities.
Peter Hallett, Director of Marketing and Industry Relations at SPIE, explained, "With this Photonics Fast Pitch Lunch, we are filling the gap between young, pre-revenue firms supported by the Startup Challenge and the best-new-products identifed by the Prism Awards. SPIE is continually looking for ways to support the growth of our industry."
The Photonics West Photonics Fast Pitch lunch is supported by the French Tech Hub, which will bring top-ranked companies from France to present to Bay Area investors. Marie Frochen, Senior Program Manager at French Tech Hub San Francisco, said, "This new event fits our mission of accelerating French tech company growth in the USA."
SPIE has partnered with USC Viterbi to create the Photonics Fast Pitch Lunch. "The photonics market is attracting tens of millions in investment every quarter, but little of that goes to inexperienced teams. We're happy to help guide entrepreneurs on the journey of building a profitable business," said Andrea Belz, Vice Dean for Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering.