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$85k in prizes for Photonics start-up Challenge


At Photonics West, 24 new companies will present new and potentially disruptive products ranging from lasers to quantum dot-based light patches

At SPIE Photonics West Photonics in San Fransisco next week, two dozen start-up companies will be pitching their technologies to an expert panel of venture capitalists and business development experts, hoping for a share of $85,000 in prizes.

They will be presenting new and potentially disruptive products to solve real-world problems from drug discovery, imaging diagnostics, food safety to virtual reality.

The SPIE Startup Challenge, now in its eighth year, is supported by Jenoptik, Edmund Optics, and Trumpf, Luminar, and the Luminate Accelerator. Jenoptik is sponsoring cash prizes including $10,000 for first place, $5,000 for second place, and $2,500 for third place. The first-place winner will also receive $5,000 worth of products from Edmund Optics.

Amongst the start-ups are C Light Technologies with a retinal eye-tracking tool for detecting neuro-deficits; CareWear which has a wearable therapeutic light patch using printed LEDs and cadmium free quantum dot film; RCS Photonics with a compact, tuneable mid IR laser diode technology; and Ultralumina which has developed a light source that is claimed to delivers a brightness 'five orders of magnitude larger than alternative technologies in the deep ultraviolet'.

Slightly more exotic participants include e-skin Displays which has technology to change 'the look and feel of any surface people interact with in everyday life - from electronics, to clothing, to walls and furniture'; Bluefield and its methane-tracking technology based on microsatellite-mounted sensors; P+ Diagnostics with a photonics-based technology to detect the risk of blood clogging; and Vitrum3D which is developing specialty resins for 3D printing of transparent fused silica glass.

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