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SPIE to host entrepreneur competition at Photonics West

18 January 2012

BELLINGHAM, Washington, USA -- Twenty aspiring entrepreneurs will pitch their biophotonics and optoelectronics ideas and products to a team of expert judges in a photonics-based start-up business pitch competition Monday and Wednesday (23 and  25 January) at the SPIE Photonics West conference in San Francisco.  Hosted by SPIE and sponsored by Jenoptik, the contest will bring together early-stage entrepreneurs with experienced industry leaders, product specialists, and venture capitalists serving as contest judges.

Participants each will have just three minutes to pitch the product or procedure that they think has commercial potential.

"Presenting a compelling business case is as important to a successful pitch as describing the science that makes it work. For scientists and engineers looking to take their research into the commercial world, pitching their idea is an important skill that can lead directly to funding," said Jay Kumler, responsible for the U.S.-based Optical Systems activities of Jenoptik.

Dirk Rothweiler, a member of the Jenoptik Executive Board and head of the Group's Optical Systems Division said, "Partnering with SPIE on this entrepreneurial event is an extension of Jenoptik's innovation culture.  We realize that ideas are only innovations once they are successful in the market, and Jenoptik is pleased to be part of this exciting event bringing new ideas to light."

Winners of the competition will be sponsored to attend one of two week-long entrepreneurship workshops run by the University of California Davis Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The workshop focuses on helping entrepreneurs explore development options, clarify their business plan, and network with entrepreneurial leaders and potential funding sources.

The winner of the 2011 Biophotonics Start-up Challenge, Hariharan Subramanian, commended the competition and workshop prize, saying "It was indeed a wonderful experience to go through the week of 'entrepreneurial' training. They had an excellent set of speakers who told their real-life experience of starting a venture and going through the process. The academy was also structured in a manner that gave enough time to work on individual and team projects and to present our final business plan."

A post-doctoral researcher in the laboratory of Prof. Vadim Backman at Northwestern University, Subramanian is working on the commercialization of an optical system that can detect lung cancer with only a cheek swab.

Cancer detection and non-invasive treatments are common themes in the Biophotonics Challenge, while the Optoelectronics Challenge covers a very wide variety of potential products from light sources for networking to trace gas sensors and hand-held microscopes.

The event is free and open to all registered Photonics West attendees, and there will be time to meet the presenters while the judges tabulate their results.

Biophotonics Start-up Challenge
Monday 23 January
4-5:30 p.m.

OPTO Start-up Challenge
Wednesday 25 January
4:30-6 p.m.

Convention Center Room 258

Judges:
Adam Wax, Duke University
Sergey Egorov, DelMar Photonics/Tech Coast Angels
Jay Kumler, Jenoptik Optical Systems Inc.
Michael Mielke, Raydiance, Inc.
Jason Eichenholz, Ocean Optics Inc.
Marc Himel, Jenoptik Optical Systems GmbH
Wellington Chadehumbe, Triumph Venture Capital.

SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, was founded in 1955 to advance light-based technologies. Serving more than 180,000 constituents from 168 countries, the Society advances emerging technologies through interdisciplinary information exchange, continuing education, publications, patent precedent and career and professional growth. SPIE annually organizes and sponsors approximately 25 major technical forums, exhibitions and education programs in North America, Europe, Asia and the South Pacific. SPIE provided over $2.3 million in support of education and outreach programs in 2010.

About the Jenoptik Group:
As an integrated optoelectronics group, Jenoptik operates in five divisions: Lasers & Material Processing, Optical Systems, Industrial Metrology, Traffic Solutions and Defense & Civil Systems. Its customers around the world primarily include companies in the semiconductor and semiconductor equipment industries, the automotive and automotive supplier industries, the medical technology, security and defense technology industries as well as the aviation industry. The Group was created out of the former Kombinat VEB Carl Zeiss Jena in 1991, as a result of the German reunification. The Jenoptik Group headquarters are in Jena (Thuringia).

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Media Contact:

Amy Nelson
Public Relations Manager
amy@spie.org
Tel: +1 360 685 5478