Companies from around the world will compete to be part of the second cohort for Luminate NY on November 14 at the George Eastman House in Rochester.

Luminate Managing Director Sujatha Ramanujan and Intelon Optics Vice President of Research and Development Dr. Dimitri Chernyak discussed the program and upcoming cohort Wednesday during our Greater Rochester Enterprise Why ROC conversation.

“It is an accelerator and an investment fund that brings in technology companies from all over,” said Ramanujan. “We invest initially in 10 of them, put them through a six month acceleration program and then invest in a few companies to a larger extent that will root and grow in the area.”

Being a part of Luminate’s first cohort, and winning $500,000 in funding, has been a game changer for Chernyak’s company. “We felt very fortunate to be in that first cohort because we really got access to a lot of best practices in business mentorship, talent, facilities in Rochester,” he said. “That helped us refine some of our strategies and really be where we are today with the development of the company.”

Intelon Optics is developing a medical device primarily for ophthalmic use which helps physicians to diagnose the state of the eye, the cornea, and the crystalline lens, with the potential to detect disease sooner than current equipment in the market according to Chernyak.

With the success of the first cohort, Ramanujan said Luminate NY has received a lot of positive attention. “First of all, it’s gotten a lot of international attention. Thirty percent of our applicants are international. We are very well recognized in this industry as the only accelerator and optics fund, with a premier group of mentors and supply chain access and training, so it is extremely well regarded in the industry, in this region. The region is well regarded, so together it makes an excellent package and it’s very appealing to companies everywhere to come here.”

Competing with similar optics companies for funding, had additional benefits for Intelon. “We were very impressed by the competition,” Chernyak said. “There was a lot of talent around and I think that also helped us to realize some of the possibilities within the program by working with other CEO’s of other companies, seeing how other people face similar challenges as we did, including working with the Luminate team on developing IP strategies, other aspects of business such as human resources, legal aspects, financial aspects.”

Now, on November 14 at the Eastman House, a new group of companies will gather for recognition and funding. “It’s in the Dryden Theatre at 4 o’clock,” Ramanujan said. “Approximately 20 companies will get up and give a two minute pitch and we will select 10 of them to join our program in January.”

The Lightning Awards event is free to attend, but you must register online. To register, and to get more information about Luminate NY, visit

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