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Startup Challengers to pitch innovations in healthcare, imaging, sensing

24 Jan 2018

Selected startups to present their photonics ideas to panel during SPIE Photonics West for share of the $85,000 in prizes.

Twenty-four photonics business startups have been selected from a large field of applicants to pitch and share in $85,000 in prizes and business support available in the 2018 SPIE Startup Challenge, held during Photonics West - next week. Sponsored by SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, the Startup Challenge is in its 8th year of highlighting new businesses solving problems with photonics.

A panel of judges comprising venture capitalists and business development experts will judge two rounds of pitches spanning a wide range of technologies, from microscopy to lasers and remote sensing. Improving healthcare is the focus for many of the entrepreneurs, with teams bringing life-changing tools for photodynamic therapy, drug discovery, and neurodegenerative disease detection.

Prizes aplenty

The SPIE Startup Challenge is supported by founding partner Jenoptik, lead sponsor Edmund Optics, and sponsors Trumpf, Luminar, and the Luminate Accelerator. 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.

President of Jenoptik, and SPIE Fellow, Jay Kumler commented, "The impact of photonics on our daily lives is evident in the finalists of this year's Startup Challenge. These entrepreneurs are presenting new and potentially disruptive products to solve real-world problems. From drug discovery, imaging diagnostics, food safety to virtual reality, this international group of finalists look more exciting than ever."

Immediately before the Startup Challenge Semi-finals, next week in San Francisco, more advanced teams will make rapid-fire pitches in the Photonics Fast Pitch Lunch held at the Park Central Hotel. This session of two-minute pitches connects the innovators to a room full of investors and potential partners.

Pitches from the Startup Challenge semi-finalist teams will take place on 30 January in the Park Central Hotel and are open to the public with a free conference registration. The top teams from the semi-finals will advance to the finals competition, held on 31 January in the Moscone Center.

Semi-finalists will also pitch their product on the Photonics West exhibit floor during the Startup Alley on Thursday, 1 February. This informal information session with the teams is interactive and provides the opportunity for more detailed conversations with the entrepreneurs.

Semi-finalists have been named in three tracks

Track 1 - Biophotonics and Point of Care technologies

  • C Light Technologies claims to have developed the most accurate retinal eye-tracking tool made to help doctors detect the mildest of neuro-deficits.
  • CareWear's Firefly is a wearable therapeutic light patch using printed LEDs and CFQD film to treat pain and accelerate recovery from soft tissue injury.
  • Clearview-App is planning to further develop technology to enable quantitative hematology laboratory testing at the point of patient without reagents using only a finger prick of blood.
  • Harmonigenic's technology is designed to reveal what people want to know to improve cancer treatment decisions.
  • Instapath has developed a microscopy system to precisely picture cancer biopsies within seconds to ensure an accurate final diagnosis.
  • LChip is a veterinary lab-on-a-chip device for rapid diagnostic of animal diseases, based on a single drop of blood, which provides quantitative results in under 10 minutes.
  • Lightrino: Improving the current treatment of dry eye syndrome by distinguishing subgroups of dry eye, so that patients can be treated with appropriate eye drops, or surgery.
  • Nanotools Bioscience: Revolutionizing the drug discovery process by providing affordable screening tools that reduce drug development times and improve screening accuracy.
  • P+ Diagnostics - Photonics-based technology to detect the risk of blood clogging with a simple test.
  • PhotoniCare's ClearView is a simple, low-cost imaging platform that lets users see through tissue. For example, visualizing the middle ear without cutting the eardrum open.

Track 2 - Imaging, Displays, Lasers, Semiconductors

  • Bluefield is a technology to keep the earth cool with microsatellite-mounted sensors tracking methane.
  • MagAssemble not only makes optics, "it makes your optics better," says the company's Mas Crawford.
  • RCS Photonics. Developing revolutionary laser diode technology that is tunable, compact, efficient and integrable: pushing the mid-infrared for various applications ranging across the defense, industrial, research, communication and medical sectors.
  • Ultralumina's light source deliversa brightness "five orders of magnitude larger than alternative technologies in the deep ultraviolet".
  • Semiautomatic Semiotics is planning to create headset-free VR to transport an individual "through beautiful landscapes, imaginary settings and famous trails".
  • e-skin Displays says it will enable change to be made to "the look and feel of any surface people interact with in everyday life - from electronics, to clothing, to walls and furniture."
  • Vitrum3D - is developing specialty resins for 3D printing of transparent fused silica glass.

Track 3 - Sensors, Wearables, Internet of Things

  • SafetySpect's scanning technologies allow cost effective real time scanning and detection of food contaminants and quality grading.
  • Labby is converting the ubiquitous smartphone into a high-tech food/beverage analytics lab.
  • Nireos is presenting an innovative technology to characterize samples (such as food, water, drugs, and more) in a remote and non-destructive way through their interaction with light.
  • EOI Technologies has developed a non-interferometric laser vibrometer. It could function as a cost-effective alternative for an LDV.
  • Orbis Diagnostics will allow smart dairy farmers to innovate by providing key data about core business - "producing excellent milk from the healthiest animals in the most sustainable way".
  • Senorics' NIR sensor technology can reveal hazards and the full nutritional breakdown of, for example, food samples.
  • Smart Baby Car Seat. The "CarNanny" is a seat incorporated with optic sensors that serves as an internet of baby things about the well-being of a baby.

SPECTROGON ABFirst Light ImagingHÜBNER PhotonicsBerkeley Nucleonics CorporationABTechHyperion OpticsLaCroix Precision Optics
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