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SPIE launches “Fast Pitch Lunch” for experienced entrepreneurs raising funds at Photonics West January 31 2017

Select group of VCs, analysts, and advisors to hear series of 90-second investment opportunities leveraging photonics

SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, is launching a new lunchtime forum for experienced entrepreneurs to efficiently present their business pitches and value propositions to savvy investors. The Fast Pitch Lunch is part of the Photonics West conference and exhibition, will occur January 31 near The Moscone Center in San Francisco. After the series of 90-second pitches, lunch will be served with time for 1:1 conversation.

SPIE listened to the entrepreneurial community to create a venue to help investors identify and connect with experienced teams ready for funding and accelerated growth. “With the new Fast Pitch Lunch, we’ve filled the gap between young, pre-revenue firms supported by the SPIE Startup Challenge and the best-new-product categories recognized by the Prism Awards,” said Peter Hallett, Director of Marketing and Industry Relations at SPIE. “SPIE is the leading international society for optical engineers and entrepreneurs, so we continually look for ways to support the growth of our industry.”

The Photonics West Fast Pitch lunch is supported by the French Tech Hub, which will bring top ranked companies from France to present to Bay Area investors. “The top French companies in photonics come to Photonics West, so this is a great place for us to bring executives, mentors, and investors together for introductions and face-to-face dialog,” said Marie Frochen, Senior Program Manager, French Tech Hub San Francisco. “This new event fits our mission of accelerating French tech company growth in the USA.”

“I am excited to see this inaugural Fast Pitch Lunch at Photonics West since this is where innovations can turn into profit,” said Andrea Belz, Vice Dean for Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. “SPIE is providing an important gathering place for them to become introduced to potential investors and business partners.”

SPIE partnered with USC Viterbi in creating the Fast Pitch Lunch to help bridge the gap between pre-revenue ideas and market leadership. “The photonics market is attracting tens of millions in investment every quarter, but little of that goes to inexperienced teams. We’re happy to help guide entrepreneurs on the journey of building a profitable business,” added Belz.

After the Fast Pitch lunch, attendees can visit the semi-final round of pitches of the SPIE Startup Challenge in which aspiring entrepreneurs share their plans in 5 minutes or less. Categories include Track 1: Biophotonics and Point of Care technologies; Track 2: Imaging, Displays, Lasers, Semiconductors; and Track 3: Sensors, Wearables, IoT.

“Most SPIE Startup Challenge presenters are technically astute but haven’t refined their pitch or visited Sand Hill Road, which is why that program is focused on learning and a cash prize,” said Hallett. “On the other hand, the Fast Pitch Lunch is designed for executives ready to present innovative yet established investment opportunities. These are people who have typically raised investment, have paying customers, can summarize their value-proposition without PowerPoint, and are planning for growth capital.”

The Photonics West Fast Pitch Lunch is not a competition and there are no cash prizes. Instead, entrepreneurs give rapid-fire, 90-second verbal presentations – without slides – to introduce their business concepts to a select group of potential investors, collaborators, and mentors. Following the presentations, the room will be available for further one-to-one conversations.

An entrepreneur desiring a speaking slot at the Fast Pitch Lunch can request details and summarize their pitch and company status in an email to innovation@spie.org. Investors, mentors, and corporate development executives interested in attending the lunch should send introductory emails to the same address: innovation@spie.org The location will be sent with confirmation emails to presenters and investors.

About SPIE

SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, is an educational not-for-profit organization founded in 1955 to advance light-based science, engineering and technology.

SPIE has several programs to help commercialize new technologies and launch new businesses. These activities include the Prism Awards new product competition, the first bottoms-up market sizing project for core optics and photonics suppliers, the largest jobs website and career fairs in the field to simplify the hiring of specialized talent, political advocacy R&D funding, SBIR renewal and export control reform, and the largest events in North America to find customers and launch products using optics and photonics.

To help regional economic development clusters attract investment, grow business, and improve workforce development, SPIE also hosts an annual Cluster Leadership forum at Photonics West. Also at Photonics West are more than a dozen free workshops and seminars covering legal issues, lessons learned, and market insight to help startups and entrepreneurs thrive.

SPIE also publishes the largest collection of optics and photonics research, the SPIE Digital Library, which helps engineers stay up-to-date, find solutions, and research prior art for patent purposes.

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