SPIE Startup Challenge 2016 semi-finalists announced

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Semi-finalists have been named in the annual SPIE Startup Challenge, where new entrepreneurs pitch their light-based technology products to a panel of venture capitalists and business development experts. Semi-final and final rounds are held at SPIE Photonics West in San Francisco in February, with finals open to the public.

SPIE Startup Challenge 2015 winners and sponsors celebrate in San Francisco.

SPIE Startup Challenge 2015 winners and sponsors celebrate in San Francisco.

Semi-final and final rounds are held at SPIE Photonics West in San Francisco in February, with finals open to the public.

Semi-finalists seeking support for their new photonics-based product proposals have been selected to pitch their ideas to business development and venture capitalists, in the 2016 SPIE Startup Challenge next month in San Francisco, California. The contest is held annually at SPIE Photonics West, sponsored by SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics.

A panel of judges will select six finalists after hearing semi-finalist pitches on 16 February. In the final round on 17 February, judges will announce their picks for the top three pitches. The final round is open to the public with free registration.

Cash prizes, including $10,000 for the first prize, $5,000 for second prize, and $2,500 for third are funded by Founding Partner Jenoptik. Additional support comes from Lead Sponsors Axsun Technologies and the National Science Foundation (NSF), and Supporting Sponsors Edmund Optics, Trumpf, Open Photonics, and Knobbe Martens. Edmund Optics also will award the first-place winner $5,000 in products.

Semi-finalists are:

  •     3D nanoscale imaging (Leslie Kimerling, Double Helix LLC): imaging at the single-molecule level inside the individual cell.
  •     Advanced Silicon Group (Fatima Toor, Advanced Silicon Group Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, University of Iowa): low-cost technology to manufacture silicon nanowire arrays in a controllable process, with applications in next-generation solar PV, biosensors, batteries, and more.
  •     Bold Biometrix, LLC (Kyle Miller, Northwestern University Center for Device Development/ Bold Biometrix, LLC): monitoring patches to help patients and their physicians understand their true blood pressure by recording trends over a seven-day period.
  •     Circulating tumor cell diagnostics (Eric Strohm, Echofos Medical): a diagnostic instrument that uses sound waves to listen for the presence of cancer cells in a patient's blood sample.
  •     ColorSpritz (Timothy Jones): “part art, part science, totally cool.”
  •     Diagnostic anSERS, Inc. (Sean Virgile): a "marijuana breathalyzer" to answer the question, "How high is the suspect right now?"
  •     Disease Diagnostic Group (John Lewandowski): “What if we told you we could save one million lives every year with just refrigerator magnets and a laser pointer?”
  •     Eta Diagnostics, Inc.. (Michael Cumbo): massively parallel flow cytometry for fast, efficient analysis of rare biological cells and particles.
  •     Extended depth of focus contact lens (Juan Rodriguez): a presbyopia prescription that allows focus from far (infinity) to close (reading) and in-between.
  •     FabriXense (Zeev Zalevsky): smart clothing providing active, continuous measure of biomedical parameters such as heartbeat rhythm, breathing and blood pressure without the need of having tight contact between the fabric and the body of the wearer.
  •     Guaks: virtual reality you can wear (Carmen Lastres, Limbak): a 1/2 weight and volume VR headset, keeping all performance features, with freeform optical system as key enabling technology.
  •     Holographic module for microscopes (Paolo Pozzi, Holobe s.r.l.): patented technology allowing conversion of standard microscopes in cutting-edge multiphoton spatial light modulation microscopes, with a simple, plug-and-play device.
  •     Leverage the Future of Electronics (Supriya Jaiswal, Astrileux Corporation): revolutionary advanced optical technologies that enable high-volume manufacturing of next-generation integrated circuit chips at 14 nm and smaller at significantly less cost.
  •     Multicore Photonics, Inc. (Darren Engle): drawing together cyber-physical systems, the Internet of Things, and the Internet of Services to monitor physical processes, communicating and cooperating with each other and with humans in real time.
  •     Optoacoustic Patient Monitoring (Graham Randall, Noninvasix): using light and sound for safe, accurate, noninvasive monitoring of fetal welfare during labor and delivery.
  •     Patented Neural Stem Cells Harvest (N. P. Lui, OPER Technology Limited): innovative neurodegenerative disease therapy, able to safely and specifically harvest neural stem cells from the brain of a live subject by strategically designed magnetic nanoparticles, allowing repeated neural stem cell extraction from the same live subject without raising ethical issues nor threatening life.
  •     PixelEXX Systems, Inc. (Renee Carder): cameras the size of a grain of sand with 62% more pixels to capture the critical details.
  •     Reflective displays for wearables (Peiman Hosseini, Bodle Technologies): ultrahigh-resolution, colorful, flexible reflective displays for wearables.
  •     Rubitection (Sanna Gaspard): a low-cost optical diagnostic tool for hospitals, long-term care facilities, and home-care agencies.
  •     Solchroma Technologies, Inc. (Roger Diebold): electroactive polymer-driven displays for sunlight-readable, large-area digital signage.
  •     TheWhollySee (Dan Yanson): a system for marking and remote identification of multiple objects and people with high position accuracy in real time.
  •     Think Biosolution (Shourjya Sanyal): mobile application PulseR allows users to take a video of the face using the smartphone camera to visualize blood flow in real time as well as measure heart rate and respiratory rate; Android application QuasaR allows users to measure their heart rate, respiratory rate, blood-oxygen level, and blood hemoglobin content using an armband.
  •     Vibronix, Inc. (Pu Wang): MarginPAT system is a photoacoustic/ultrasound tomography system that can provide highly sensitive intraoperative margin assessment during lumpectomy within 5 minutes.
  •     Wearable Vital Sign Monitor (Jyh-Chern Chen, Taiwan Biophotonic Corporation): finger-free wrist-worn pulse oximeter that measures pulse rate and blood oxygen with a micro-structured reflective optic sensor.

More information on the Startup Challenge is at http://www.spie.org/startup.

SPIE is the international society for optics and photonics, an educational not-for-profit organization founded in 1955 to advance light-based science, engineering, and technology. The Society serves nearly 264,000 constituents from approximately 166 countries, offering conferences and their published proceedings, continuing education, books, journals, and the SPIE Digital Library in support of interdisciplinary information exchange, professional networking, and patent precedent. In 2015, SPIE provided more than $5.2 million in support of education and outreach programs. http://www.spie.org

Updated 12 January 2015

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