Words by Marléna Ahearn
Photos by Julia Merrell
“Light tomorrow with today.”- Elizabeth Barrett Browning
NextCorps, formerly High Tech Rochester, is a non-profit that provides startup resources in Rochester, NY. As a business incubator for young startups and manufacturing businesses, NextCorps is focused on creating growth and opportunity in Rochester. Occupying the entire sixth floor of Sibley Square, the sprawling space has co-working spaces, labs, game rooms, and office space for their start-ups. Today, NextCorps creates opportunity for startups to thrive, particularly those focused on technological advancement and clean energy—which is how Luminate, the world’s only international accelerator for photonics, optics, and imaging, was created.
Luminate is dedicated to bringing visionary entrepreneurs from around the globe together with Rochester’s powerhouse optics, photonics, and imaging (OPI) pioneers (think Xerox, Eastman Kodak, and Bausch + Lomb) and investors to fast-track OPI innovation. Optics, the study of sight and the behavior of light; photonics, the technology involved in the properties and transmission of photons; and imaging science, the generation, collection, duplication, analysis, modification, and visualization of images all have roots in Rochester, NY. In fact, Rochester is the US optics and imaging capital—we even have a bench dedicated to OPI at the airport.
Emily Hessney Lynch, NextCorps’ Digital Marketing & Communications Manager, shares how NextCorps and Luminate are dedicated to enriching the Rochester community and economy.
“One thing we want to do is retain talent and bring in new talent to continue to strengthen the economy,” says Hessney Lynch. “Instead of companies like Kodak being one tall, giant tree, now we have lots of happy plants growing in the garden and everyone has access to sun. We want to continue to build that ecosystem where everyone is thriving and helping each other.”
Last year, Luminate launched its first Light Tomorrow With Today event to allow its inaugural cohort the opportunity to pitch their ideas and win $1 million in follow-on funding from the Empire State Development’s Finger Lakes Forward initiative.
Last year, Double Helix was the million-dollar winner and has since found tremendous success, winning the 2019 Prism Award for their unparalleled “precision-of-depth imaging and tracking of structures down to the single molecule level.”
A second cohort of ten finalists are set to give their final pitches at Luminate’s second annual Light Tomorrow With Today event on June 27, 2019 at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival. The winning team will win $1 million in follow-on funding and an additional $1 million is distributed to other finalists. There is also an audience choice award where people can vote via text and the winning team will receive $10,000.
Reyedr, a member of Luminate’s second cohort, will be presenting their start-up at the 2019 Light Tomorrow With Today event. Kal Gwalani, founder and CEO of Mango teQ Ltd., is a self-described “serial entrepreneur and passionate motorcyclist.”
“With the arrival of my son, motorcycling took a backseat,” says Gwalani. “While working full time I relentlessly [pursued] three qualifications back to back, including an MBA. After completing my studies, wondering how to fill up the void, I decided to buy a motorbike. After getting on a bike after such a long break, it was pretty obvious to me that trying to view information on a motorcycle dashboard is so much more difficult being that it is lower than the line of sight. The idea for the REYEDR HUD emerged within a month of my return to motorcycling.”
Mango teQ Ltd is developing frontier Augmented Reality technology. Its initial focus is retrofit Heads-Up Displays (HUD) for helmets. The REYEDR HUD removes the need for motorcyclists to take their eyes off the road for speed checks or to view a smartphone for navigation.
Learn more about what companies like Reyedr have been working on through the Luminate accelerator at their final event, Light Tomorrow with Today on June 27, 2019. The event is a free event, but registration is required.