Governor Hochul Announces Luminate New York Alum Owl AI to Grow Operations
Autonomous Imaging Company Moving to New Location in the Town of Perinton; Commits to Creating More Than 100 New Jobs
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that Luminate New York alum Owl AI will expand its operations in Monroe County in the Town of Perinton, committing to creating up to 105 high-technology jobs in the region. The project will see the autonomous imaging company move into a larger facility located at the Willowbrook Office Park, which is expected to be operational this fall.
"The expansion of Owl AI in the Finger Lakes region illustrates how our targeted investments in innovation have transformed the forward-thinking ideas of brilliant entrepreneurs into new and creative jobs that will boost our economy," Governor Hochul said. "I look forward to seeing other innovative Luminate NY companies commit to establishing their roots in Monroe County, which will lead to tremendous growth and move the Finger Lakes economy forward."
"New York's economic development programs are not only getting new companies off the ground and putting New Yorkers back to work, but as we see in the case of OWL AI, helping successful companies grow," said Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado. "As we see more and more job growth, development and opportunity, we will see more of our young people remain here in New York to work and raise their families."
Luminate NY, which is administered by NextCorps, is the world's largest business accelerator for emerging companies that have optics, photonics, and imaging enabled technologies. Empire State Development is providing up to $750,000 through the Excelsior Tax Credit Jobs program in exchange for the performance-based job creation commitments over the next five years. Since its inception, Luminate NY has invested $13 million in 52 startups.
OWL AI was a round four finalist of the Luminate NY business competition, won $250,000 in follow-on funding, and recently closed a $15 million Series A financing round. Founded in 2018, Owl AI has developed a sensor modality for autonomous vehicles known as monocular 3D Thermal Ranging that dramatically improves pedestrian safety to reduce accidents and save lives. Current Automotive Driver Assist System sensors typically are comprised of mutually dependent visible-light cameras and radar. When one of these sensors becomes ineffective, so too does the entire sensor suite. This scenario happens often at night and in inclement weather.
Owl's products are able to minimize accident risk by generating 3D perception capabilities for automobiles, trucks and buses by customizing high-definition thermal imaging and innovative artificial intelligence applications based on computer vision algorithms. These algorithms then use that data to produce ultra-dense, three-dimensional point clouds, up to 150x that of LIDAR, along with highly refined object classification for detection, identification and location of pedestrians, cyclists, and animals.
OWL AI Co-Founder and CEO Charles Gershman, said, "Owl's roots are deeply tied to the Greater Rochester Region and to leveraging the rich resources that exist in the imaging capital of the world. Our new facility continues our commitment to growing in Monroe County. The support of Luminate NY and Empire State Development has been tremendous in helping Owl AI position itself for the growth that will come from transforming capabilities in the transportation market."
Owl AI's commitment to growing operations in Monroe County further supports the success of the Luminate NY OPI Competition. The companies in the portfolio have raised an additional $113 million and have a combined valuation of approximately $400 million. As, a result of the globally renowned accelerator program, many of the participating companies are establishing their U.S. operations or some aspect of research and manufacturing in the Rochester region — which continues to be the epicenter of the OPI industry in North America. This has resulted in the creation of 133 new jobs in the region, with an additional 45 positions that are currently open.
Luminate NY Managing Director Sujatha Ramanujan said, "Owl AI exemplifies an emerging company in the Finger Lakes Region that is developing revolutionary technology using optics and semiconductors. The company and its team is well positioned to shape the future of vehicular imaging.
Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Hope Knight said, "Owl AI's continued expansion in the Finger Lakes spotlights the success of New York State's strategic investments in advanced technologies, and further establishes Rochester as a global leader in optics, photonics and imaging. This Luminate NY alum, developing next-gen transportation tech, is a great example of how our business competitions are attracting top-notch companies that are creating jobs and spurring the region's economic growth."
State Senator Samra G. Brouk said, "New York State's Finger Lakes Forward strategy is creating jobs and economic opportunities for our families while positioning our region for the high-tech economy of the future. I am proud to be a part of State investments that stimulate our economy and provide good-paying jobs for our workers through products that create a safer and better world."
State Senator Jeremy Cooney said, "I'm pleased to welcome Owl AI's expansion as an economic driver and innovative technology provider in our region. As the senate author of legislation aimed at autonomous vehicle growth and safety, I am grateful for OWL AI's risk reduction products and the opportunities their new facility presents to Greater Rochester and beyond. Thank you to Luminate NY, Empire State Development, and Finger Lakes Forward for your partnership and support to revitalize communities and create jobs."
Assemblymember Jennifer Lunsford said, "OWL AI's growth as a company and expansion in Perinton is a Luminate NY success story! This is exactly why we invest in helping to build our technology sector here in the Finger Lakes. Emerging companies like OWL AI building out their footprint here in Monroe County helps us maintain our status as the Optics capital of the world!"
Assemblymember Harry Bronson said, "Rochester was built on imaging and it's great to see Owl AI continuing that tradition of excellence with their expansion into the Town of Perinton. An alum of Luminate NY, Owl AI will create good paying jobs for our families and inspire more growth here in Monroe County. As Chair of the Economic Development Committee, I'm excited to see the advancements Owl AI will make in the transportation market and the economic impact they will have here locally. Congratulations and thank you for investing in our region."
Monroe County Executive Adam Bello said, "Our region's legacy of pioneering in optics, imaging and entrepreneurship is furthered today with Owl AI's investment in our community — and yet another sign Monroe County's economy is thriving in a post-COVID world. Thank you to Gov. Kathy Hochul, Empire State Development and Owl AI for your commitment to Monroe County's economic future."
Town of Perinton Supervisor Ciaran Hanna said, "Congratulations to OWL AI on their expansion in the Town of Perinton. We are thrilled to see this innovative company create local jobs and make advancements in the automotive industry as they work to make the roadways safer for everyone."
Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce President and CEO and Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chair, Bob Duffy said, "Greater Rochester remains on the forefront of imaging technology with the expansion of Owl AI in the Town of Perinton. This innovative company is helping shape the future of transportation, while investing here in our Finger Lakes region. We commend NextCorps' Luminate NY program and Empire State Development for supporting the growth of Owl AI in Greater Rochester and congratulate co-founder and CEO Charles Gershman and his entire team."
Matt Hurlbutt, President and CEO, Greater Rochester Enterprise said, "Owl AI is expanding in the Greater Rochester, NY region to leverage the world-class optics, photonics, and imaging talent and expertise readily available here. We are pleased to connect Owl AI to numerous essential resources available in Rochester to fuel the company's expansion plans."
For additional information about OWL AI and career opportunities, visit: https://www.owlai.us/.
Accelerating Finger Lakes Forward
Today's announcement complements "Finger Lakes Forward," the region's comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The regionally designed plan focuses on investing in key industries including photonics, agriculture and food production, and advanced manufacturing. Now, the region is accelerating Finger Lakes Forward with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative. The State's $500 million investment will incentivize private businesses to invest well over $2.5 billion - and the region's plan, as submitted, projects up to 8,200 new jobs. More information is available here.
About Empire State Development
Empire State Development (ESD) is New York's chief economic development agency (www.esd.ny.gov). The mission of ESD is to promote a vigorous and growing economy, encourage the creation of new job and economic opportunities, increase revenues to the State and its municipalities, and achieve stable and diversified local economies. Through the use of loans, grants, tax credits and other forms of financial assistance, ESD strives to enhance private business investment and growth to spur job creation and support prosperous communities across New York State. ESD is also the primary administrative agency overseeing the Regional Economic Development Councils and the marketing of "I LOVE NEW YORK," the State's iconic tourism brand. For more information on Regional Councils and Empire State Development, visit www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov and www.esd.ny.gov.
Read the official announcement