SPIE Startup Challenge at Photonics West

Supporting entrepreneurs in optics and photonics businesses
SPIE Startup Challenge is held at SPIE Photonics West

Pitch the brilliance of your business for a chance to win

The SPIE Startup Challenge is held annually at Photonics West. This competitive event invites new entrepreneurs to pitch their light-based technology business plan to a team of business development experts and investors.

Startup Challenge
Hosted at SPIE Photonics West

Application process opens 12 September

View past winners

2024 Startup Challenge Prizes

Startup Challenge applicants receive expert feedback on their technology and business model from photonics industry leaders based on their answers in the application.

Cash prizes for winners:
1st Place - US $10,000
2nd Place - US $5,000
3rd Place - US $2,500

In addition to the cash prizes, winning participants receive immediate and ongoing recognition, including:

  • Promotion on optics.org, SPIE.org, social media sites (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter), press releases, and the Photonics West Show Daily
  • Opportunities to return to the Startup Challenge stage for updates on your company in the coming years

Thank you to our Founding Partner

Industry leaders at JENOPTIK understand the value of superb innovation. The company's support of SPIE Startup Challege is unmatched.


How businesses get started

Competition overview Competition overview ...
Eligibility and application Eligibility and application ...

Accelerate the launch of your business

Winners hold checks

Financial support and recognition

Participating teams compete for sponsored prizes as well as gaining increased visibility with potential investors.

Mentored by experts

Industry leaders, mentors, and investors give their time, share expertise, and ensure startup businesses are on a path to success.

Part of a wider network

Participants in the competition are connected to other entrepreneurs and previous participants.


If you have questions about eligibility, participation, expectations, sponsorship, or anything related to the SPIE Startup Challenge, please contact Emily Bottemiller, emilyb@spie.org