Yesterday, at a ceremony during SPIE Photonics West, Swave Photonics — with their Holographic eXtended Reality chips based on proprietary diffractive photonics technology — was announced the winner of the $10,000 top prize at the 13th annual SPIE Startup Challenge.
QART Medical, utilizing biophotonics and data for 3D analysis of sperm cells during IVF, received $5,000 for second place. PhosPrint came in third, winning $2,500, with their novel bioprinting technology that repairs in vivo human tissue during surgery. All cash prizes are provided by SPIE Startup Challenge Founding Partner Jenoptik.
The SPIE Startup Challenge, a pitch competition held annually by SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, showcases new businesses, products, and technologies that address critical needs by utilizing photonics in the areas of healthcare and deep tech. This year’s finalists included innovations in medical diagnostics, medical imaging, food safety, and display technology.
“It’s a privilege just to present to such a distinguished audience,” says Swave Photonics CEO Mike Noonen. “Participating in the Startup Challenge was an award in itself, but to win first-place recognition, our team is very excited. We really want to thank the sponsors and SPIE and Photonics West for the opportunity.”
“It's very nice to get the acknowledgment,” notes QART Medical CEO and Co-Founder Alon Shalev. “The judges were very supportive, and they gave us good insights yesterday in the preparation session. I think SPIE Photonics West is a wonderful, wonderful event, and a great opportunity to see and meet people. Being acknowledged is always nice, and this feels like a real achievement.”
“It was a great experience for me,” adds Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder of PhosPrint Ioanna Zergioti. “It was exciting for us to have the opportunity to present our startup at the SPIE Startup Challenge. It was especially great to work with the judges, and to get feedback from senior investors in the field.”
The 2023 SPIE Startup Challenge was supported by Founding Partner Jenoptik; Lead Sponsors Edmund Optics, Hamamatsu, MKS Instruments, and Thorlabs; and Supporting Sponsors NextCorps Luminate and Photonics Media. The competition judges who vetted the applicants for their business models, financial cases, and competitive advantages included Jenoptik’s Kristin Holzhey, MKS Instruments’ Marc D. Himel, Edmund Optics' Agnes Hübscher, NextCorps Luminate’s Sujatha Ramanujan, Hamamatsu Ventures’ Richard Oberreiter, and Thorlabs’ Garrett Cole.
Light-based technologies enable developments in many areas, from healthcare and high-speed communications to quantum computing, AR/VR/MR, and self-driving vehicles. The SPIE Startup Challenge is an annual entrepreneurial pitch competition for new businesses that utilize optics and photonics to create innovative products, applications, and technologies. Startup Challenge winners that have gone on to wider commercial success include Cellino Biotech, Double Helix Optics, PhotoniCare, C. Light Technologies, Circle Optics, and In A Blink.
SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, brings engineers, scientists, students, and business professionals together to advance light-based science and technology. The Society, founded in 1955, connects and engages with our global constituency through industry-leading conferences and exhibitions; publications of conference proceedings, books, and journals in the SPIE Digital Library; and career-building opportunities. Over the past five years, SPIE has contributed more than $22 million to the international optics community through our advocacy and support, including scholarships, educational resources, travel grants, endowed gifts, and public-policy development. www.spie.org.