SPIE Startup Challenge

New entrepreneurs will pitch light-based technology business at Photonics West.

01 January 2017

The SPIE Startup Challenge, held annually at SPIE Photonics West, invites new entrepreneurs to pitch their light-based technology business plan to a team of corporate development experts and venture capitalists.

Winners in the 2017 competition will receive cash prizes, promotional support, and exclusive networking opportunities.

The multiday event focuses on connecting new entrepreneurs with resources in the optics and photonics community and beyond so they can learn how to refine their business case, analyze the market for their technology, and develop a network of business connections.

Judges will choose approximately 20 semifinalists to make their pitches on Tuesday, 31 January, and the top six presenters will move on to the final competition on Wednesday, 1 February. The final round is open to the public.

New this year will be segmentation in the semifinal round into three technology categories, or tracks: biophotonics and point of care; imaging, displays, lasers, and semiconductors; and sensors, wearables, and the Internet of Things. Two entrepreneurs from each track will go on to the final round.

Oral pitches for both rounds of the SPIE Startup Challenge can be no longer than five minutes. 

Over $85,000 in cash, prizes, and promotions will be awarded. Founding partner Jenoptik is funding $10,000 for first prize, $5,000 for second prize, and $2,500 for third.

Trumpf, Open Photonics, and Edmund Optics, which also awards the first-place winner $5,000 in products, will be joined by the US National Science Foundation as supporting sponsors of the competition.

A new fast-pitch lunch provides seasoned entrepreneurs an opportunity to introduce their business pitch to investors on Tuesday. Executives who wish to present their 90 second business summary or investors interested in attending should email innovation@spie.org for details.

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Learn more about the SPIE Startup Challenge,

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