By GREGORY ZELLER //
Hundreds of Long Island’s top business and science minds gathered Tuesday for the 2017 Innovator of the Year Awards.
Including Master of Innovation Robert Catell, the former KeySpan and National Grid USA chairman, some 36 top innovators were honored by Innovate Long Island at Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury.
“Our honorees include first-time entrepreneurs, inveterate tinkerers and some who have made invention and innovation their careers,” said master of ceremonies John Kominicki, Innovate LI’s founder and publisher. “Their ideas may not all end up changing the world, but they are all making it a better place.
Five honorees – including laboratory researchers, solopreneurs and partners in various early-stage enterprises – were awarded in each of seven categories: Biotech, Clean Energy, Food & Beverage, Invention, Makers, Science & Technology and Software. The awards followed a months-long nomination and selection process.
Catell, the board chairman at Stony Brook University’s Advanced Energy Research and Technology Center, is in the sixth decade of a career – perhaps the midpoint, according to his schedule – that stretches from the meter-repair shop at the Brooklyn Union Gas Co. to the KeySpan, and later National Grid, C-suites.
The ad-hoc exec, serial board member, consultant, author and energy industry titan – who in 2016 joined the board of directors at Stony Brook-based biotech Applied DNA Sciences and also chairs the New York State Smart Grid Consortium – never really considered himself an innovator, he said at Tuesday’s awards ceremony, and was thrilled to be included among the 2017 crop of Long Island’s top scientists, inventors and entrepreneurs.
“Just look at the people being recognized here this morning,” Catell told Innovate LI. “That really tells the story.
“It really is ‘Innovate’ Long Island.”
It’s also proof-positive that “you don’t have to leave Long Island to have a successful career,” Catell added, noting the importance of school-industry collaborations that educate students in a wide range of sciences and technologies while addressing the regional innovation economy’s future workforce needs.
“We need to encourage our schools and colleges and broaden the education space,” he said. “We need to help students recognize there are great futures in these fields.
“We try to do that at the [AERTC],” Catell noted. “We collaborate with industry as much as we can, and we have a great relationship with Brookhaven National Laboratory – not only developing new technology, but commercializing it, and that’s really the key.”
Many of the 2017 Innovator of the Year honorees are engaged in the development of new technologies; awardees in every category are spread across the commercialization spectrum, from the drawing board to full-on production. The winners, by category:
Codagenix – J. Robert Coleman, Steffan Mueller
TargaGenix – James Egan
DepYMed – Andreas Grill
Traverse Biosciences – Joseph Scaduto, Lorne Golub, Francis Johnson
Chembio Diagnostics Systems – John Sperzel
Re-Nuble – Tinia Pina
MEAn Technologies – Ron Tabbitas, Miriam Rafailovich, Michael Rubino
Bonded Energy – Jerritt Gluck
Energystics – Reed Phillips
Jasmine Universe – Mohan Wanchoo, Bruce Germano
Food and Beverage
The Subtle Tea Company – Kyle Chandler
Lithology Brewing – Marc Jackson, Kevin Cain, Manny Coelho, Lee Kaplan
Backyard Brine Pickle Co. – Randy and Cori Kopke
AlphaWolf Drinks – Michael Chalavoutis
Tainos Sofrito & Mojo – Vivian Jarrett
Ready Check Glo – Celestina Pugliese
OxxyGen – Jeff Peterson, Scott Schuler, Mel Blum
The Perfect Leg Stretcher – Mary Ann Malizia
The Chess Bike – Ramuel Maramara
Savvy Hires – Felicia Fleitman
Marmalade Drive – John Pawloski
Impish Lee – Noelle and Kali Ventresca
Spectronics – Jon Cooper
East/West Industries – Teresa Ferraro
Science & Technology
3D Bioprinting – Daniel Grande, The Feinstein Institute
Neural Bypass – Chad Bouton, The Feinstein Institute
Neural AIDS Inhibitor – Carol Carter, Stony Brook University
Spinraza – Adrian Krainer, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Laue Lens Multilayer Microscope – Evgeny Nazaretski, Yong Chu, Brookhaven National Laboratory
Skoop! – Dan Giacopelli
Moiety App – Gregory Wagner
Bettr App – Ashish Pandhi, James Knaus
eVero – Christos and Constantine Morris
WorkRails – Jeff Leventhal (and partners)
Get the skinny on each of the impressive winners right here.
As far as being a Master of Innovation, Catell – despite a career filled with entrepreneurial endeavors (he founded Alberta Northeast Gas, for instance) and inventive corporate leadership – said he “never considered myself as ‘innovative,’ though I did do some innovative things.”
“I spent my entire career in the corporate world,” he said. “It’s very different today. Young people have a great opportunity to start their own business, and many have done really well in the technology space.
“Schools need to encourage that and let people know there are really good opportunities right here,” he added. “Having incubator companies and having industry support those companies both financially and by mentoring students is all key to the success of innovation on Long Island.”