German firm wins top Luminate award

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Alexander Igelmann, CEO of Lidrotec accepts $1 million as winner of Luminate Finals 22.
(Photo: Sue Zuecola)

Lidrotec, which established a U.S. entity last week, is the winner of Luminate NY’s fifth round. The Bochum, Germany-based business will receive a $1 million investment from New York.

It is one of 10 startups that vied for a total of $2 million in prizes at the Luminate Finals held during Optica’s Frontiers in Optics + Laser Science conference in Rochester.

Lidrotec has a patent-pending wafer-dicing laser technology for the semiconductor industry. The technology allows for thinner cuts with a virtually 0 percent damage rate, officials say, leading to cost savings and a boost in productivity. As the U.S. moves to get a better handle on chip supply, companies like Lidrotec can play a significant role.

“Luminate provided us with a new network into the United States, along with contacts to suppliers and clients,” says Alexander Igelmann, Lidrotec CEO. “These vital connections will help us to meet our development milestones during the next two years, which include market validation for our novel laser technology.”

A semiconductor tooling company, Lidrotec’s innovation lies in the use of liquids in the laser-processing zone. With no change to the production process, these liquids cool and rinse the wafters while lasers cut chips. As a result, thinner cuts with high precision are possible without damaging materials. Higher processing speeds and clean surfaces without debris are other pluses.

Lidrotec, which earned the Company of the Year award, was introduced to AIM Photonics through the accelerator program. The collaboration will help the young business build infrastructure for the next iteration of its technology and assist with establishing U.S. operations.

“The Luminate NY accelerator provides our city with an enormous economic boost and expands Rochester’s already dense web of groundbreaking innovators in optics, photonics and imaging. We are thrilled to host the Luminate Finals and wholeheartedly welcome Lidrotec to the region,” says Rochester Mayor Malik Evans.

Another Germany-based business, Custom Surgical, was awarded the Outstanding Graduate Award and $500,000 in follow-on investment. It also received the $10,000 Audience Choice award. Custom Surgical’s technology provides a way to record, store, and share medical images and use them to diagnose and treat patients.

Alertgy from Melbourne, Fla., took home the Distinguished Graduate award and $250,000 for its technology, which gives diabetics and pre-diabetics a way to non-invasively monitor their blood glucose levels on demand.

Spain’s MeetOptics and Virginia’s Scout tied for the Honorable Achievement win. Each company received $125,000. MeetOptics is working on an artificial intelligence-driven platform that assists optics and photonics engineers and researchers access and compare products and technologies from manufacturers online. Scout offers alternatives to the terrestrial sensing paradigm with on-orbit imaging systems and autonomy software for the automated detection, tracking, and characterization of space objects and orbital debris.

So far, Luminate NY has invested $15 million in 54 startups. Companies in its portfolio share a net worth of more than $400 million, officials say. These businesses are establishing U.S. operations or run some aspect of research and manufacturing in the Rochester region, creating

150 jobs (100 full-time and 20 contract positions). An additional 120 positions are expected.

Last year’s winner, PreAct Technologies, is expected to create 60 jobs. The company has committed to setting up its pilot, high-tech manufacturing here.

“This accelerator is providing the critical support that early-stage companies need to bring their technologies to market and expand their businesses in both U.S. and global markets,” says Sujatha Ramanujan, managing director of Luminate NY.

The program is accepting for its sixth cohort until Jan. 9, 2023.

Smriti Jacob is Rochester Beacon managing editor. The Beacon welcomes comments from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name.

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