Double Helix puts down roots in ROC

Local News

Luminate is celebrating the success of Double Helix Optics and looking forward to the next cohort of companies that are seeking to put down roots in Rochester.

Double Helix Optics CEO Leslie Kimerling and Luminate Managing Director Sujatha Ramanujan discussed the program and it’s impact on Rochester Wednesday during our Greater Rochester Enterprise Why ROC conversation.

Luminate is the only international startup accelerator focused solely on next-generation optics, photonics and imaging (OPI). Located here in Rochester, Luminate is bringing visionary entrepreneurs from around the globe together with OPI pioneers and qualified investors to speed innovation and time to market. It’s also providing early-stage companies with the capital necessary to further develop their technologies, including $100,000 upon program acceptance, and a chance to win up to $1 million in follow-on funding.

Double Helix Optics took home the $1 million grand prize recently in the first ever Luminate competition. “Double Helix Optics is bringing to market a very innovative 3D imaging technology,” said Kimerling. “What we enable scientist to do is to study for the first time the structure of the cell at the molecular level. This has tremendous possibilities for new disease discovery and drug discovery. So it’s a very important innovation both for scientific discovery and for pharma development.”

Ramanujan noted Double Helix is not the only company to benefit from Luminate. There were 10 companies in the initial cohort that each received $100,000 and are committed to growing their operation in Rochester. “To win a Luminate prize you had to do two things, you first of all had to show that you were solving some kind of major problem or unmet need that society needs, and the second thing you had to do is show us why Rochester,what is the impact here?” she said. “So also placing in the Luminate competition was Intelon Optics, and they have a very innovative medical imaging system that really changes how one examines eye health, and how to treat eye disease. They are building their manufacturing operations out of Rochester. They are hiring their Director of Manufacturing right here. They’re working with local companies to do their manufacturing design, and to build the product here. The next company was Positive Science. Positive Science is actually a Rochester based company and it was already here. They do eye tracking specifically focuses at animals and young children – looking at things like autism or child behavior. They’re a small business. They’re profitable but what they needed was some help growing and expanding and hiring and building it out here in Rochester where they do a lot of good. In every case – while the product may have been dreamt or designed somewhere – it is being made here.”

The future is bright for Double Helix, which is looking forward to collaborating with other Rochester companies and organizations. “The great news is we were already manufacturing here in Rochester before the Luminate program began, and so we’re very excited that we’re now going to be able to extend our manufacturing on design efforts here in Rochester and to grow in that arena,” Kimerling said. “We’re also working with a couple of local companies already to integrate our technology into their product lines to enable them to extend their reach into the 3D imaging space, which is a very large developing market in both life sciences and beyond. And, finally, we are partnering with the University of Rochester to work with some of their researchers in the Life Sciences group to work with them to advance disease discovery, similar to what we’ve done already with some other collaborators, and so we’re very excited about that partnership.”

Applications are now being accepted for the second round of the competition through September 24. As with the inaugural competition, startup companies earning one of 10 available slots in the next cohort will receive a minimum investment of $100,000 with the opportunity to get up to $1 million.

Companies with a functioning prototype and dedicated leadership should submit their application online through the Luminate website, click here.

To learn more about Double Helix Optics, click here.

For more information about Greater Rochester Enterprise, click here.

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