Aspiring entrepreneurs have until 16 November to apply to pitch their light-based technology product ideas to a team of business development experts — and win a share of more than $85,000 in cash and prizes in the SPIE Startup Challenge 2018.
Organized by SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, the semifinal and final rounds of the competition are held during SPIE Photonics West at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, California, running 27 January through 1 February. Application, eligibility, and other information is at www.spie.org/startup.
A $10,000 cash prize provided by Founding Partner Jenoptik and $5,000 in products from Lead Sponsor Edmund Optics go to the first-place winner. Jenoptik also provides $5,000 for second place and $2,500 for third, and Supporting Sponsors Trumpf and Luminar fund other prizes.
Twenty semifinalists will each receive feedback from photonics industry leaders and product demonstration time in the Startup Alley on the floor of the SPIE Photonics West exhibition.
Two semifinalists may win $2,500 Early-Stage Travel Awards for travel support and full-conference registration for Photonics West.
Six finalists in the live round of pitching on 30 January will also receive reimbursement for training, a ticket to the Prism Awards for Photonics Innovation banquet on 31 January, and promotion in several SPIE publications.
Nabiha Saklayen, who along with partner Marinna Madrid won the 2017 Startup Challenge for a laser-activated nanodevice to deliver gene therapies to cells, said the competition accelerated their progress.
“When we applied, we didn’t even have a company name,” she said. “Eight months after winning, we are raising a seed round of funding and finalizing a development agreement with a leading industry partner. Applying to this competition was the best decision for the future of the company. We encourage other early stage entrepreneurs to do the same without thinking twice.”