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SPIE Startup Challenge at Photonics West

Supporting entrepreneurs in optics and photonics businesses
SPIE Startup Challenge is held at SPIE Photonics West

Congratulations winners of the 14th annual SPIE Startup Challenge

More than a simple pitch competition, the SPIE Startup Challenge is an entry point into the community of high-tech business development. Numerous mentors volunteer their time in support of new business ventures. The 2024 finalists pitched their light-based technology business plan to a team of business development experts and investors at Photonics West on 30 January 2024.

Congratulations to TRAQC, ClearVision, and UriMetrics, awarded the top three places at this year's SPIE Startup Challenge. Read the full press release.

Startup Challenge

Meet the 2024 winners

The application process will open again in October 2024

2024 SPIE Startup Challenge Winners

1st place winner: TRAQC

$10,000 prize

Real-time inspection solution for the printed electronics industry.

2nd place winner: ClearVision 

$5,000 prize

A non-invasive alternative to permanent vision-correction surgeries based on corneal sculpting with femtosecond laser technology

3rd place winner: UriMetrics 

$2,500 prize

A lens-free imaging solution for reducing the incidence of catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI).

View all past winners


2024 Startup Challenge Prizes

All Startup Challenge applicants receive expert feedback on their technology and business model from photonics industry leaders based on their answers in the application. Finalists go on to compete at Photonics West for cash prizes provided by SPIE Startup Challenge Founding Partner Jenoptik.

Cash prizes for winners:
1st Place - US $10,000
2nd Place - US $5,000
3rd Place - US $2,500

In addition to the cash prizes, winning participants receive immediate and ongoing recognition, including:

  • Promotion on,, social media sites (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter), press releases, and the Photonics West Show Daily
  • Opportunities to return to the Startup Challenge stage for updates on your company in the coming years

Thank you to our Founding Partner

Industry leaders at Jenoptik understand the value of superb innovation. The company's support of SPIE Startup Challenge is unmatched.


How businesses get started

Competition overview Competition overview ...
Network of experts Network of experts ...
Eligibility and application Eligibility and application ...

Finalists compete in two areas of focus

The competition focuses on new businesses and potential startups within two areas of focus from the worldwide community of entrepreneurs.

healthcare using mixed VR technology


healthcare using mixed VR technology

Deep Tech

Scientific or engineering innovation (software apps not included)

Accelerate the launch of your business

Winners hold checks

Financial support and recognition

Participating teams compete for sponsored prizes as well as gaining increased visibility with potential investors.

Mentored by experts

Industry leaders, mentors, and investors give their time, share expertise, and ensure startup businesses are on a path to success.

Part of a wider network

Participants in the competition are connected to other entrepreneurs and previous participants.


If you have questions about eligibility, participation, expectations, sponsorship, or anything related to the SPIE Startup Challenge, please contact