No. 117: Baldassano builds, VW plants and the Taliban get their own app

VC Steve Winick heads thee judging for this week's collegiate business plan competition.

Monday, Monday: A great start to the week everybody and welcome new readers, including JoAnna, Matt, Steven, Julie, Sharon, Michele, Leonard, Kate, Chaz and Bob. It’s National Chicken Cordon Bleu Day. Do what you must. And happy birthday Steve Davies.

The road to the final $100K

Innovators from Long Island’s top colleges and universities go head-to-head on Thursday in the regional round of the New York State Business Plan Competition.

With $30,000 in prizes and a shot at the state finals at stake, teams from Farmingdale State College, Hofstra University, NYIT and Stony Brook University will present their business ideas to a high-caliber panel of judges chaired by Steve Winick, managing director of Syosset private equity firm Topspin Partners.

While regional bragging rights and the $30,000 pot are not nothing, the real prize is a slot in the state finals, set for April 29 in Albany. More than $500,000 in potential seed money will be up for grabs there, including a business-plan-redefining $100,000 grand prize.

Bring a pillow to the regionals: The pitch-a-thon starts at 8:30 a.m. and lasts pretty much all day at Farmingdale State’s Campus Center.

One man’s pork is another’s ham

The state came through on funding for Long Island’s innovation economy, with more than $330 million appropriated in last week’s budget, including $50 million to kick-start a center for bioelectronic medical research envisioned by Feinstein Center chief Kevin Tracey.

Also funded: Bruce Stillman’s dream of a Cold Spring Harbor center that speeds up commercialization of the lab’s research.

Less innovative but welcome: Lots of sewer projects.

Putting the wolf on the run: Northwell Health researcher Meggan Mackay is heading into Phase 2 clinical trials of an acid – no high, but it comes from cannabis – that could significantly improve the life of those suffering from lupusand other autoimmune diseases.

BLD it and they will come: 40-year-old Baldassano Architecture is renaming itself BLD Architecture – sounds like “build,” thank you – as part of a rebranding that better reflects the firm’s evolving regional prowess. Retooling by Hauppauge agency Austin & Williams. Among other projects, CEO Alex Badalamenti & Co. have been working on retail designs associated with the Coliseum roboot.

No commute: Huntington’s eGifter is looking for a senior software engineer.

The Calendar: Don’t forget Innovate’s big, big networker at Jewel tomorrow night. Well, unless you’re going to the LICA event at NYIT, which might be more educational but less fun. Those events and many more here.

Peer to Pier lending: PNC Bank reportedly has agreed to finance $225 million of Scott Rechler’s $350 million redevelopment of Pier 57 in NYC.

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About our sponsor: Farrell Fritz, a full-service law firm with 15 practice groups, advises startups on entity formation, founder and shareholder agreements, funding, executive compensation and benefits, licensing and technology transfer, mergers and acquisitions and other strategic transactions. The firm’s blog, New York Venture Hub, discusses legal and business issues facing entrepreneurs and investors.

Most-read posts of the past week

Intelligent Product Solutions helps get a charger pad to the big show

A Long Beach co-working space is set to make waves

SBU researcher Carol Carter is getting close on an HIV inhibitor

Any idea why Long Island has its own renewables program?

Dynamic Supplier Alignment wants to prevent marketable research from quietly dying in the lab

Fougera Phramaceuticals plans an $88 million expansion

The FDA is honing in on stem cell quackery

Clint Rubin understands the value of a deep Rolodex

Meet Instagram entrepreneur Alyssa Bossio (a perennial favorite)

Missed a newsletter? Most are archived here.

Missed joining as a sponsor? We need your support to keep this baby going.

Government, here to help: The SBA launched a small biz technology coalition with Box, Microsoft, Amazon, Zenefits, Facebook, LegalZoom and SalesForce.

If you write Pashto: The Taliban has developed a mobile app to direct its fighters and push propaganda messages. Available soon on the Google Play Store; iOS coming.

Emissions control: Volkswagen may agree to build an electric car plant in the United States as part of its settlement in the diesel software scandal.

Biological insurance: A real estate agent named Ray Dearlove is airlifting South African rhinos to Australia to save them from poachers. He’d take your help.

Philosophical riddle answered: If a giant tree blew over in your backyard and smashed through the back fence while you were writing an innovation newsletter, would it make a sound? Oh yes.

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Compiled by John Kominicki. Thanks for reading.