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SPIE Startup Challenge and Entrepreneur Program

The SPIE Startup Challenge at Photonics West

The annual Startup Challenge
The SPIE Startup Challenge is a high-stakes, global competition where entrepreneurs with light-enabled products have 5 minutes to pitch their businesses to a team of expert judges and vie for over $85,000 in cash, prizes, and promotion.

The SPIE Startup Challenge is held annually at Photonics West in San Francisco; the largest research conference and trade show for light-based products in North America with over 1,300 companies and 22,000 attendees. This year, the 2021 final competition will take place 10 March 2021 in San Francisco.

The 2021 application cycle opens 20 September 2020.

20 September 2020
2021 Startup Challenge launch

15 November 2020
2021 applications due

2020 Winners announced
Read the press release

Photonics West
See 2020 highlights

Congraulations to the 2020 winners

The annual pitch competition at SPIE Photonics West 2020 showcased two photonics-focused tracks, recognizing six winners in healthcare and deep tech. Winners were announced on 5 February 2020 at Photonics West in San Francisco.



1st  Odin Technologies, LLC

2nd  Rubitection

3rd  Eysz


Deep Tech

1st  Senorics GmbH

2nd  Labby Inc.

3rd  Circle Optics

Competition photo gallery 2020


The high-stakes, global business plan competition for new entreprenuers

Sponsors and Prizes
Schedule and Rules
Tips and Training

Join the Startup Challenge Community

Business strategy, pitch reviews, and competition logistics are all discussed on the SPIE Startup Challenge channel on Slack. Send an email to innovation@spie.org to be added to the discussion space.

Questions or comments? Contact us at innovation@spie.org