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SPIE Startup Challenge

Become a sponsor of the SPIE 2016 Startup Challenge

The SPIE Startup Challenge (for photonics technologies) is held annually at Photonics West. This competitive event invites new entrepreneurs to pitch their light-based technology business plan to a team of corporate development experts and venture capitalists. The best pitchers receive cash prizes and are selected to attend a week long entrepreneur boot camp to refine their ideas and make further contacts with experts.

"I entered the 2015 SPIE Startup Challenge. I didn't win first place but received great feedback,
learned how to refine my pitch, and met two people who have since become my
start up advisors. SPIE is doing a great service!"
- E. Hooman Banaei, Founder and CEO of Everix

2016 Startup Challenge returns to Photonics West.

Competition opens to applications on 5 October. Preview the rules and requirements: SPIEStartup2016.istart.org

Contact Dirk Fabian with questions or comments.

2016 Sponsorship Opportunities
Learn more

2015 Startup Challenge Winners

Winners Page with the pitch videos

2015 Prizes

Winner: $10,000 from JENOPTIK + $5,000 in products from Edmund Optics
2nd Place: $5,000
3rd Place: $2,500

2015 Press Releases

Pitch for surgical tool wins 2015 SPIE Startup Challenge

Semi-Finalists in the 2015 Startup Challenge announced

Hear from a Startup Challenge Winner
2014 Startup Challenge winner Robert McLaughlin, from the University of Western Australia, explains how he benefited from the experience:


More than a pitch competition: If the possibility of winning $10,000 for a 3 minute business pitch isn't motivating enough, know that the Startup Challenge is part of a multi-day entrepreneurship training and networking program at Photonics West. We start with a clinic on effective pitching so that everyone gets some practice, whether it's your first pitch, or your 100th. A networking lunch with experts in business development, startup finance, IP Law, and product marketing follows the clinic. Participants in the SPIE Industry program on business acceleration, our expert judges, and business mentors provide a community where you can get the feedback and exposure you need to make your business plan a success. To get access to this program, apply to the Startup Challenge with your business plan.

View 2015 Startup Challenge Winners

View 2014 Startup Challenge Winners

View 2013 Startup Challenge Winners

Please review the eligibility requirements, rules, and competition structure.

Interested in sponsoring, mentoring, or being involved in some way? Contact dirkf@spie.org.

Founding Partner


Supporting Sponsors

Edmund Optics


Open Photonics