University of Rochester

EVENT: "60 Years of Innovation" Brings Together Optics Entrepreneurs

October 10, 2013

WHAT: The "60 Years of Innovation" event will celebrate the legacy of optics entrepreneurship at Rochester. More than 100 alumni, faculty, or staff members from the Institute of Optics have started 160 companies over the past 60 years. The event will bring together many of them, or living relatives, for a series of talks and panels.

Two keynote speeches will be given by Jim Wyant, founder of WYKO and 4D Technology, and Susan Houde-Walter, founder of LaserMax. Panel discussions will include "What I wish I had known," "Why start a company," and "Developing, growing, and selling."

TIME, DATE AND PLACE: 1 5 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 13, in Gleason 318/418, University of Rochester River Campus.

ADMISSION: Free and open to the public.

FOR MORE INFORMATION & RSVP: or 585-276-8343.

BACKGROUND: Over the past year and a half Duncan Moore, vice provost for entrepreneurship and Rudolf and Hilda Kingslake professor of optical engineering, and his colleague, Susanna Virgilio, have been tracking down and connecting with alumni, faculty, or staff members from the Institute of Optics who have started their own companies. They have identified 120 founders of approximately 160 companies. About a third of these companies were founded or are located in Rochester, others span the US, and some are located internationally one in Japan and several in India.

Moore explained that some of the founders started several companies, some started companies outside of the optics industry, while others left a firm they thought they would stay with for the rest of their life to risk everything by starting their own company. All of them have different reasons for starting a company, but they share many influencing factors, including people and experiences at the University of Rochester. For example, many refer to Bob Hopkins, former director of the University of Rochester's Institute of Optics and a University alumnus, as an influence.

The gathering will also allow these alumni to come back and see what has developed at the University of Rochester. Moore notes that the University has grown over the past 60 years, offering exciting options to optical students, especially to those who want to explore entrepreneurial paths more. Current optics students and students interested in entrepreneurship will have a chance to meet and hear stories from these experienced entrepreneurs.