The Startup Challenge accepts applications from the worldwide community of entrepreneurs.
The SPIE Startup Challenge is an entry point into the community of high tech business development.
- In 2023, they are accepting applications for:
- Deep Tech – involving scientific or engineering innovation (no apps)
The focus is on new businesses and potential startups.
- For all applicants:
- Rules for the Pitch: Oral pitches can be no longer than FIVE (5) MINUTES each. Extra time is not allowed. Application pitches must be submitted in video format. Finals pitches must be made live and in person at Photonics West by the applicant or a team member named in the application. After the Finals pitch, judges will have additional time to ask questions.
- Application Fee: There is no fee to enter the competitions for either the Startup Challenge or the Series A/B Open Pitch events. However, applicants selected as finalists will need to pitch in person at Photonics West. You will need to register for Photonics West in order to attend the finals.
- Travel: Finals teams for both the Startup Challenge and Series A/B Open Pitch are responsible for making their own arrangements to travel to Photonics West in San Francisco.
- A note on disclosure: The written application to participate in the Startup Challenge will be read by a team of evaluators who have been asked to keep the contents of the application confidential, however, no formal guarantee of confidentiality will be provided or implied. Participants should avoid the release of proprietary information, trade secrets, information subject to export control, or ITAR.
- By participating, you agree: Participation in the competition means that you agree to have your startup presentation evaluated. Furthermore you allow SPIE to use your name, likeness, and the information provided in the Startup pitch to promote your product and this competition, in print and electronic communication means.
- SPIE may document the competition with video and images of the presentations. This material will be used by SPIE to promote the Startup Challenge competition, your pitch, and entrepreneurship in photonics. If you are filmed by SPIE, you may request a copy of the footage.
- Participants must have an optics or photonics technology or application that they wish to publicly present as the basis for a viable new business.
- Companies must select one of these tracks, based on their development stage at the time of the written application:
- Pre-revenue for the pre-seed stage
- Below $500K in revenue from product sales for seed stage.
- Actively raising a Series A or B round with some demonstrated market traction for the Series A/B open pitch
- In all cases, revenue means revenue generated from products sold, not funding acquired through investors, grants, or other support. Teams (un-established companies) should join the pre-seed stage.
- Note for Startup Challenge finalists: A representative from each team will make a five-minute pitch to a panel of judges. Judges then have five minutes to ask questions of the presenter. Judges will decide the top three pitches, and the winners will be announced at a final awards ceremony. In all rounds, the decisions of the judges are final.
- Note for Series A/B Open Pitch finalists: The Series A/B Open Pitch is an opportunity for advanced teams who are actively fund-raising to pitch to investors at Photonics West and to provide valuable exposure to the VC community. A representative from each team will make a five-minute pitch to a panel of investors. Teams in this track are not eligible for the Startup Challenge competition or the monetary prizes.
- Applicants to the Startup Challenge will have their applications evaluated by experienced entrepreneurs, investors, and business development experts, who will then share their feedback.
- Based on the written application and video pitch, judges select the teams who become Startup Challenge Finalists and Series A/B Open Pitch Finalists. These teams are invited to enter their respective live pitch rounds, which will occur at Photonics West 2023, in the Moscone Center, San Francisco, California, USA. The attendees of Photonics West are invited to the presentations, hosted this year on 31 January 2023.
For more information, visit https://spie.org/conferences-and-exhibitions/photonics-west/program/startup-challenge/eligibility-application-disclosures