With collaborative, hands-on experiences, the 2019 Light & Sound Interactive Conference next week will showcase the Finger Lakes region’s strengths in innovative technologies.
With a goal to spur economic growth, the conference kicks off Tuesday evening, June 25, with a free esports event, featuring gaming rock stars and an actual rock star featured in the video game Guitar Hero.
The Rochester Beacon posed questions to Terry Clas, chairman of the LSI Conference, who also works as the head of business development for photonics with the state Division of Science, Technology and Innovation.
ROCHESTER BEACON: What are the highlights of this year’s conference?
TERRY CLAS: The 2019 Light & Sound Interactive Conference will take over downtown Rochester June 25 to 27—dates that, by design, align with the CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival. The conference’s program tracks are optics, photonics and imaging; cinema; music and audio; gaming and interactive media; augmented and virtual reality; and the Department of Defense.
This collaborative experience of innovation and technology showcases the Rochester/Finger Lakes region’s areas of expertise. The goal is to spur economic growth, as LSI leaders enlighten the world as to the value of connecting with cutting-edge development and resources—as Rochester expands its long and proud legacy in innovation, imaging, and optics.
The 2.5 days of LSI will feature interactive sessions with experts, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders, as well as hands-on, cutting-edge product demonstrations. To best showcase innovative capabilities related to the conference’s focused programs, LSI has opted to focus on collaborative, hands-on experiences vs. offering a slate of long panel talks.
Participants will spend their afternoons witnessing demonstrations and engaging in one-on-one meetups with intersecting businesses and investors, in dedicated spaces at Sibley Square. LSI management is navigating and scheduling these meetups for participants.
Also, attendees will be invited to visit the world-class TAP Photonics facilities at Eastman Business Park. In conjunction with the LSI Conference, AIM Photonics is hosting its meeting of members representing several Fortune 500 companies. The conference kicks off Tuesday evening, June 25, with a free esports event, featuring gaming rock stars—taking on Fortnite, Minecraft, and Rocket League—and an actual rock star featured in video game Guitar Hero. Lou Gramm of Foreigner fame will take the stage to sing his hits, including “Juke Box Hero” and “Head Games” in between the gaming fun. Following a panel talk about “Esports In Education,” RIT’s Esports Team will take on the Splyce team from Toronto.
The goal of the conference is to attract leading technologists and innovators from national high-tech companies to Rochester, for collaboration on the future of light-and-sound based technologies, applications, and emerging industries. LSI celebrates Rochester’s unique environment, where breakthrough science is spurring economic growth.
Leaders coming to town for the conference to speak are with Facebook, Niantic/the Pokémon Go Company, Amazon Alexa, the Department of Defense, and the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences.
The LSI Conference will take over the Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center as well as Sibley Square, both on East Main Street. Audio and music events will be held in Eastman School of Music’s Hatch Hall and at RIT’s MAGIC Center. Morning and lunchtime keynote speeches, plus Luminate NY’s Demo Day, will be presented in the Jazz Festival tent at Parcel 5.
The conference will culminate with Luminate on June 27, which is the world’s largest startup accelerator program for optics, photonics, and imaging technologies. Headquartered in downtown Rochester, and administered by NextCorps, Luminate features 10 competitors vying for more than $2 million in follow-on funding provided through the Finger Lakes Forward Upstate Revitalization Initiative.
ROCHESTER BEACON: What has the attendance been like in the past and how do you expect this year to turn out?
CLAS: The first LSI Conference, held in fall 2017, was more of a showcase of our region’s assets vs. a business-to-business conference focused on economic development. Admission was free and we got the conversation started. We cast a wide net and learned a lot from our first incarnation and have now focused on a targeted audience of R&D professionals, technologists. entrepreneurs, investors, economic development professionals, and government representatives.
A week before opening day, we have more than 700 registered and attendees coming from 39 different states and five countries.
We expect the LSI Conference to be an annual event.
ROCHESTER BEACON: The conference signals the largest alliance between UR and RIT (and other stakeholders). What makes it so? Have both universities invested in the event?
CLAS: The dynamic conference is being presented jointly by the Rochester Institute of Technology, the University of Rochester, Empire State Development, and the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce, among other organizations. This conference is an active formal alliance between UR and RIT.
Our universities are at the forefront of developing some of the most exciting technologies and startups in the world’s fastest-growing industries, and we are educating future world leaders. The alliance leverages subject matter experts from both universities to showcase their collective capabilities in support of some of the fastest-growing markets in the world, such as integrated photonics, optics, and AR/VR.
ROCHESTER BEACON: Why do you think LSI is a win for our community?
CLAS: LSI builds upon Rochester’s proud legacy in manufacturing, photography, and optics, and the region today is recognized globally as a leading optics, photonics, and imaging cluster. Currently, 17,000 people in the Rochester area are employed in OPI industries. We are a national OPI hub and we can boast about our core competencies. Rochester has it all—higher education, excellent industry, a highly talented and skilled workforce.
The LSI Conference captures where we are today as global leaders in many arenas, and this innovation is taking place in the same footprint as Rochester’s business giants who pioneered optics and made magic happen with imaging and light.
The genius patent holders who worked for our Big Three (Kodak, Bausch & Lomb, and Xerox) are still here, and still inventing and creating, and running and working with more than 200 OPI industries right here in our region. And that is why people are coming from across the country to learn about how they can do business with us. We are ready to showcase our evolving and innovative technologies.