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Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced Wednesday that $15 million in additional funding is being made available to support three more rounds of the Luminate NY business accelerator competition in the City of Rochester. The innovative competition focuses on the optics, photonics and imaging industry and is administered by NextCorps, located at Sibley Square in Rochester's Downtown Innovation Zone. Luminate NY supports selected innovators as they grow their ideas in Rochester with help from industry experts, businesses and local universities. The program aims to assist entrepreneurs who are interested in solving challenging industry problems, including, but not limited to: machine vision, inspection, biophotonics, security, surveillance, augmented and virtual reality, and autonomous vehicles. Funding for the Luminate NY program is being provided through the transformative Finger Lakes Forward Upstate Revitalization Initiative.

"The Luminate NY accelerator is further cementing the region's reputation as an imaging and optics epicenter for the entire country," Cuomo said. "Strategic investments in this emerging industry will foster new business growth and create top-notch job opportunities for the region's highly skilled workforce as we continue to move the Finger Lakes forward."

The second round of the Luminate NY accelerator competition began in January. The ten finalists selected received an initial investment of $100,000 and are currently immersed in a six-month program to assist the companies with their businesses and accelerate their technology commercialization. The teams will then compete on Demo Day on June 27, 2019 for over $2 million in follow-up funding. Companies must also commit to establishing operations in Rochester for at least 18 months.

Luminate NY round one winner, Colorado-based Double Helix Optics, received the grand prize for its Light Engineering technology. Its SPINDLE 3D nanoimaging module seamlessly integrates with existing microscopes, cameras, and other optical instruments to make 3D super-resolution imaging and tracking accessible and affordable. This is advancing capabilities in biological and biomedical research and drug discovery.

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, "Three more rounds of Luminate NY will continue the entrepreneurship this competition is driving in the photonics industry with innovative ideas, jobs and educational opportunities that are benefiting the Finger Lakes region and New York State."

Luminate NY builds on the U.S. Department of Defense-led American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics, which is supported by a $250 million commitment from New York and is based in Rochester at the state-of-the-art AIM manufacturing facility located in On Semiconductor at Eastman Business Park. First announced by Cuomo and Vice President Joe Biden in July 2015, AIM Photonics will help to further secure the Finger Lakes region and nation's leadership position in emerging technology research, development, and manufacturing. The Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council has also established the $30 Million Photonics Attraction Fund which aims to attract integrated photonics companies to set up manufacturing operations in the greater Rochester area.

Wednesdayday's announcement complements "Finger Lakes Forward," the region's comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The State has already invested more than $6.1 billion in the region since 2012 to lay the groundwork for the plan - investing in key industries including photonics, agriculture and food production, and advanced manufacturing. Today, unemployment is down to the lowest levels since before the Great Recession; personal and corporate income taxes are down; and businesses are choosing places like Rochester, Batavia and Canandaigua as a destination to grow and invest in.

Now, the region is accelerating Finger Lakes Forward with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, announced by Cuomo in December 2015. The State's $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion - and the region's plan, as submitted, projects up to 8,200 new jobs.

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