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Rochester company Ovitz takes top prize of $1 million in Luminate NY competition

A local optics company has won the top prize in the latest round of state funding in the Luminate NY  competition.

Luminate NY is a business accelerator designed to give a boost to businesses in the high tech industry; particularly those involved in optics, photonics and imaging.

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The winner of the $1 million top prize announced by Governor Andrew Cuomo on Thursday is Ovitz, a Rochester based start-up that makes a portable device that can help diagnose problems with a patient’s vision, information that can then be used to develop solutions for vision correction, such as designing customized contact lenses.

Felix Kim is the CEO, and he says their product is unique in that industry.

“This will (be revolutionary) because we are already getting excitement from doctors and the lens manufacturing industry, they’ve been looking for this solution for years,” Kim said.

Sujatha Ramanujan is Managing Director for Luminate NY. She says this kind of funding is crucial for early-stage companies like Ovitz.

“You make the difference, between whether they’re going to succeed or fail and really can become something. And so, that’s what we see with Ovitz, they’re right on that cusp and by winning Luminate, we can really push them over,” Ramanujan said.

Second and third place prizes went to VPG Medical, also based in Rochester, which will get $500,000 in state funding, and North Carolina basedLumedica Vision, which will receive $250,000.  The 4th place prize of $250,000 went to Circle Optics, which is based in New York City.

The funding comes from New York State through the Finger Lakes Forward Upstate Revitalization Initiative. Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul came to Rochester on Thursday to help  present the awards. The competition ceremony was held at the main tent at the CGI International Jazz Festival.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.