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SPIE Startup Challenge and Entrepreneur Program

The SPIE Startup Challenge at Photonics West

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. Winning teams share more than $85,000 in cash and other prizes.

Traditionally, 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. In this challenging year, the Startup Challenge's 11th year, the industry-judged competition moved to an all-online, live-pitching format.

Congratulations to our 2021 Startup Challenge winners!

Deep Tech track:

  • First prize: In A Blink
  • Second prize: Owl Autonomous Imaging
  • Third prize: Ki3 Photonics

Healthcare track:

  • First prize: Advanced Optronics
  • Second prize: LASE Innovation
  • Third prize: Prebeo

Read more about the online finals in our press release.

Questions? Contact us at innovation@spie.org

Meet the 2021 SPIE Startup Challenge Winners

See the 2021 cohort of semifinalists

Watch pitches from
past winners


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

Sponsors and Prizes
Schedule and Rules
Tips and Training

Join the Startup Challenge workspace on Slack


Join the coversation with the SPIE Startup Challenge Community

Business strategy, pitch reviews, and competition logistics are all discussed on the SPIE Startup Challenge workspace on Slack.

Send an email to innovation@spie.org to be added to the discussion space.