No. 261: Diamonds, Riptides, origami skeletons and Comtech, in an emergency

Rise and shine: Waking before the alarm isn't so bad, researchers say.

And you were there: Congratulations, dear readers (including new subscribers Sue, Rod, Jessie and Sergio), on surviving Thanksgiving with the family, Black Friday at the mall and Cyber Monday on the ’net – the largest online-shopping day in U.S. history, it turns out, with some $6.59 billion in digital transactions counted by our friends at Adobe.

Tell us all about your contribution to the record – and any story tips, calendar items or eggnog recipes you’d like to share – at

On this (other) date: Nov. 29 is a little thin on historical significance. But Nov. 30 is slightly more interesting – it’s not only the birthdate of Mark Twain, Winston Churchill and Dick Clark, but tomorrow marks the 63rd anniversary of the first recorded meteor strike on a person. Galactically unlucky/lucky American Ann Hodges took one for the team in Sylacauga, Ala., in 1954. And yes, she lived to tell the tale.


Diamonds are forever: The New York chapter of the American Council of Engineering Companies has announced the winners of its 2018 Engineering Excellence Awards, and among the 155 projects honored this year are several Long Island jobs designed by Melville’s H2M architects + engineers.

H2M’s haul includes a coveted ACEC Diamond Award for its work on the Town of Riverhead’s Water Resource Recovery Facility. Brookhaven firm L.K. McLean Associates also earned a Diamond Award for its work on Port Jefferson’s new Rocket Ship Park playground.

The entire list of ACEC-New York 2018 winners – including an armful of Platinum, Gold and Silver awards for H2M – is available here.

Goldfingers: Kudos also to the winners of “Riptide: Hamptons Sink or Swim,” a “Shark Tank”-like pitch-a-thon held this weekend at the Southampton Social Club to promote i-Hamptons – a startup-resource organization for Hamptons-based entrepreneurs – and The Spur, an 8,000-square-foot “private co-working and entrepreneur’s club” slated to open in 2018.

The big winners were Tote Taxi – which will transport your weekend baggage from Manhattan to Montauk, because you know what a pain that can be – and Five North Chocolate, a Setauket-based vegan chocolate specialist. Both took home $25,000 in startup funding.

For your eyes only: Sultry Sea Cliff lingerie customizer Impish Lee is taking part in the Plus Collective Holiday Pop Up Shop, a holiday-themed effort of The Gregory Hotel New York billed as “the first group pop-up shop for plus-size customers.”

Impish Lee – which recently increased its customizable size range to include sizes 0 to 30 in Lounge styles, plus 42- and 44-inch bands for bras and bralettes – is one of four designers showcasing wares at the #PlusPop, which officially busts out with a Dec. 7 launch party at The Gregory.


Days of wine and [beer and mead and chocolate and…]: With tens of thousands of food and drink choices, Total Wine Spirits & More and the New York Marketplace and Brewery District go where no Westbury startup – or any other startup – has gone before.

Speaking of better drinks: Albany has boosted four Long Island municipal projects determined to replace lead water-service pipes.

In case of emergency: A plethora of new deals has placed responsibility for millions of U.S. 911 calls in the hands of Melville-based Comtech Telecommunications Corp.

Damage report: Northwell Health’s latest “Health Story” podcast takes listeners to Puerto Rico, where a Northwell team aided the humanitarian response to devastating Hurricane Maria.

About our sponsor: The Long Island Business Development Council has helped build the regional economy for nearly 50 years by bringing together government economic development officials, developers, financial experts and others for education, debate and networking.


With federal funding getting harder to secure, SUNY medical schools face some tough choices – but the decision to relocate to Port Washington was a lot easier for NYC tech firm Agilant Systems, thanks to a Nassau County IDA incentives package. And in case you didn’t know it, there are some crazy-inventive big thinkers working for Northwell.


Thinking ahead: Eighty-eight Smart Schools Investment Plans (including several on Long Island), aimed at reimagining teaching and learning for the 21st century and totaling $75.6 million, were approved this week by the NYS Department of Education.

Air force: Statoil, a major player in the United Kingdom’s offshore wind sector, broke new ground – or is it air? – by using 200 remote drones to inspect ocean-based turbine generators.

This is how Terminators start: A team of MIT and Harvard scientists have developed origami skeletons that give soft robots the “muscle” to lift 1,000 times their own weight.


+ Envisagenics, a NYC-based drug-discovery company spun out of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, raised $2.25 million in seed funding led by Dynamk Capital, with participation from other investors.

+ Libra Services, a NYC-based provider of accounting, audit and tax software for the blockchain and cryptocurrency industry, raised $7.8 million in Series A funding led by a multi-billion-dollar European family office with participation from Liberty City Ventures, XBTO, Boost VC and Lee Linden.

+ BetterLesson, a classroom-embedded, hands-on professional-development coaching program, raised $10 million in a Series B funding led by Owl Ventures with participation from New Markets Venture Partners, Reach Capital and the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation.

ClimaCell, a Boston-based weather-tech startup, raised $15 million in Series A funding led by Canaan Partners with participation from Fontinalis and Square Peg.

+ Cardiovate, a San Antonio-based medical-device maker, closed a $1 million seed round led by Targeted Technology, the University of Texas Horizon Fund and Texas angel investors.

+ Rx Savings Solutions, a Kansas-based provider of a HIPAA security-compliant Patented-engagement software system that enables employers and employees to purchase prescription drugs, secured $18.4 million in funding led by McCarthy Capital.


Red planet kegger: When humans reach Mars, Budweiser wants to make sure there’ll be plenty of beer.

Blue planet snicker: Speaking of Bud, Take Craft Back – the tongue-in-cheek crowdfunding campaign aiming to “buy” Anheuser-Busch InBev – has earned more than $3.5 million in pledges.

For the chocolate lover: When you’re a Whitman’s Sampler, life really is like a box of chocolates.

I NEED those five minutes: So why do you wake up right before your alarm goes off?

Might we note: There’s really no such thing as “free” news. Please support great organizations like the LIBDC.