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Startups with University ties win big at Luminate competition

July 8, 2019
technician holds a device in front of the eyes of a young child, who looks through the deviceOvitz, which develops individualized vision care, took home the $1 million top prize in the the world’s largest startup accelerator program for optics, photonics, and imaging technologies. (Luminate photo)

The top two finishers in this year’s Luminate competition are startup companies with strong ties to the University of Rochester.

Ovitz, which develops individualized vision care, including a custom contact lens, and proprietary software algorithms to diagnose abnormal corneas, took the $1 million top prize in the the world’s largest startup accelerator program for optics, photonics, and imaging technologies.

Ovitz founder and CEO Felix Kim ’14 is a graduate of the University’s Institute of Optics, as is engineering director Nick Brown ’15. Chief scientist Geunyoung Yoon is a professor of ophthalmology and biomedical engineering at the University. The company was founded in 2012 by Kim and five other students, placed first in the 2013 Charles and Janet Forbes Entrepreneurial Award Competition and third in the 2013 Mark Ain Business Model Competition for the EyeProfiler, an eye measurement device that is portable, inexpensive, and multifunctional. Ovitz exited the University’s Student Incubator in 2016 and joined the High Tech Rochester (now NextCorps) Affiliate Program to continue their business goals.

VPG Medical, which took the $500,000 second-place prize, has developed cameras that can be embedded in smart devices to monitor the cardiac activity — and quickly detect heart failure — by watching changes in the coloration of the face. CEO and co-founder Jean-Phillippe Couderc is an associate professor of medicine (cardiology) at the University of Rochester Medical Center as is Chief Medical Officer Burr HallGuy Arie, head of business development, is an assistant professor of economics and management at the Simon Business School.

All winners of the competition, which is administered by University affiliate NextCorps — the region’s only state- and federally designated business incubator — commit to establishing operations in Rochester for at least the next 18 months.

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Category: University News