No. 299: On ‘natural marijuana,’ (unrelated) reef madness, the patient experience and the myth of the innovation lab

High point: Stony Brook University research may lead to new medicines using the body’s own “natural marijuana.”

Turning point: Welcome to Wednesday, dear readers, and the midpoint of another productive week in Long Island socioeconomic innovation.

A special hello to freshly minted newsletter subscribers David, Nina, Mark, Pam and Franco. Welcome to the show, please keep your safety belt fastened at all times.

It’s April 18 out there: And happy anniversary to Stars and Stripes, the U.S. military newspaper – and one-time home of an eager young cub named Kominicki – that published its first edition 76 years ago today.

Root, root, root, root, root, root, root, root, root for the home team: The longest game in professional baseball history was played on this date – at least, it started on this date. The Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings, two teams from the Triple-A International League, played the first 32 of their record 33-inning affair on April 18 and 19, 1981. The 2-2 deadlock was stopped in the wee hours and resumed more than a month later, on June 23 (Pawtucket finally won, 3-2).

Shaky ground: It was 112 years ago today when the 1906 San Francisco earthquake destroyed an estimated 80 percent of the city and claimed some 3,000 lives.

Listen, my children: And you shall hear … but historians say it was actually between 9 and 10 p.m. on April 18, 1775, when Paul Revere set out to warn the Colonial militia the redcoats were coming.

He was captured, by the way.

Better option: Revere would have been smarter emailing the other revolutionaries … wouldn’t have even needed that whole “one if by land” thing. Don’t make the same mistake – tell us what you’re thinking, quickly and safely, at

Three-for-one: Happy birthday to American-Mexican pop rockers The Triplets – band members Diana, Sylvia and Vicky Villegas were all born April 18, 1965.

And many more actor James Woods (born 1947), late-night host Conan O’Brien (born 1963) and Sayako Kuroda, formerly Sayako, Japanese Princess Nori, supreme imperial priestess of the Ise Grand Shrine (born 1969).

Something Ventured: Before we dive into the busy week, best of luck and break a leg (or whatever the entrepreneurial equivalent may be) to the 10 finalists pitching their hearts out in Friday’s finals of the 2018 Hofstra-Digital Remedy Venture Challenge, slated to be held at Hofstra’s Lawrence Herbert School of Communication.

The annual business-plan contest, sponsored by the university and New York City digital media company Digital Remedy (which has been very busy, more below), will dole out some $70,000 in working capital and related business-formation services to three winning student businesses, with in-person audience members selecting a $500 “People’s Choice” champion (the event will also be livestreamed here).

Also: Big-time congrats to Regional Director Erica Chase-Gregory and her team at the Farmingdale State College Small Business Development Center, who have earned an Excellence and Innovation Award from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Chase-Gregory and her staff “far exceeded their center’s goals in [2017],” according to the SBA, which counted $23 million-plus in financing raised by the more than 1,000 clients the FSC office counseled last year. The staffers are scheduled to be honored May 1 at the SBA’s National Small Business Week Ceremony at the Microsoft Technology Center in New York City. More information here.

And of course: The clock winds down toward the 2018 Innovator of the Year Awards, coming April 24 to the Crest Hollow Country Club – and coming to your desk or mobile device, with livestreaming of our really big show provided by the ace mobile-production team at Quick-Cast.

This year’s awards honor Master of Innovation Michael Faltischek and a cavalcade of Long Island’s top inventors, mentors and entrepreneurs, with A-list networking kicking off around 8 a.m. Stay tuned for livestreaming details – meanwhile, awardee info and event registration are both just a click away, and yes, we’d be happy to squeeze in some more tables.


And now a word from our sponsor: Nixon Peabody works with clients who are building the technologies and industries of the future. We’ve got the expertise necessary to drive your business forward and help you negotiate risks and opportunities related to all areas of business and the law, including business formation, capital raising, IP, labor and immigration, and FDA.



Reef madness: A New York tradition since 1949, new artificial reefs – these partially constructed from the remains of the original Tappan Zee Bridge, which was deconstructed last year – will soon fill waters off the Long Island coast.

Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday announced the largest expansion of artificial reefs in state history, with six underwater barriers to be built out of old tug boats and barges and chunks of what was the Governor Malcolm Wilson-Tappan Zee Bridge, which carried travelers over the Hudson River from 1955 to 2017. (The new Tappan Zee Bridge – officially the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge – opened last year.)

The artificial reefs, which will be rounded out by other recycled materials, increase the biodiversity of marine habitats by attracting a variety of fish and other egg-laying, shelter-seeking creatures – providing a critical economic resource for coastal communities, according to the current Gov. Cuomo, who trumpeted “a growing tourism industry that brings thousands of anglers and travelers to Long Island’s pristine waters every year.”

High and mighty: A new technology out of Stony Brook University is showing enormous promise for a new generation of pharmaceutical treatments using the body’s own “natural marijuana.”

The tech, developed by researchers in SBU’s Institute of Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery, has identified fatty acid binding proteins as drug targets of the body’s endocannabinoid system. Endocannabinoids are natural marijuana-like substances in the body and “have potential as the basis for new medicines,” according to the university, which said Tuesday the technology has been licensed to multinational biopharma Artelo Biosciences.

During the first year of the licensing agreement, Artelo Biosciences – which maintains its U.S. headquarters in California – will collaborate with the multidisciplinary SBU research team, led by biochemistry professor Dale Deutsch, to identify a lead FABP compound for drug development and formulation, with particular interest in pain mitigation.



Patients are a virtue: As the “patient experience” comes front and center, Hauppauge software startup Patient Innovations is helping hospitals and private providers pay closer attention to the little things.

Microcasting call: Digital Remedy, the New York digital arthouse with deep Long Island roots, has acquired a thriving West Coast creative shop and its CEO, both with a talent for low-cost, high-impact niche content.

Tech transfer of power: Andrew Whiteley, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s new vice president of business development and technology transfer, has big shoes to fill – and decades of experience to help fill them.

Eyeing a relocation: It was a year in the making, but a seven-figure real estate deal will finally bring a longtime Queens-based distributor of high-end eyewear east to Western Suffolk County.



You read it here first: Fashionably functional Laura Alison Designs (one of Innovate LI’s all-time favorites) gets the Entrepreneur treatment.

Lab work: They’re all the rage now, but Forbes debunks “the myth of the innovation lab,” which might not be all it’s cracked up to be.

In the Navy now: Add another $58.9 million in satellite communications hardware, software and services to Melville-based Comtech Telecommunications Corp.’s U.S. Navy dealings.

Learning’s bigger picture: Can educational innovations actually alter macro-learning trends? Yes, says the Washington-based Brookings Institution. But…



+ Ceterus, a North Carolina-based accounting and benchmarked reporting company, closed $10 million in Series B venture capital funding led by Harbert Growth Partners with participation from earlier investors TechOperators, GroTech Ventures, Idea Fund Partners and Alerion Ventures.

+ Honest Buildings, a New York City-based Project-management platform built for and backed by real estate owners, raised an additional $3.5 million in Series B funding. Backers included Altus Group Limited and QuadReal, a Vancouver-based global real estate investment, development and management company.

+ Spidr Tech, a Los Angeles-based provider of automated messaging systems for police departments, raised $2.5 million in funding. Backers included Sidewalk Labs, Birchmere Ventures, Stage Ventures, Kairos Association, Heartland Ventures and No Name Ventures.

+ Aetion, a NYC-based software-platform company delivering real-world analytics and evidence to biopharma and others, raised $36.4 million in Series B funding led by New Enterprise Associates, with participation from new investor Amgen Ventures and existing investors Flare Capital Partners, Lakestar and Oxeon Ventures.

+ Onapsis, a Boston-based provider of business-critical application cybersecurity and compliance solutions, raised $31 million in Series C minority funding led by new investor LLR Partners, with participation from existing investors .406 Ventures, Evolution Equity Partners and Arsenal Venture Partners.

+ OwnBackup, a New Jersey-based provider of data backup and recovery solutions, closed a $15.5 million financing round co-led by new investor Vertex Ventures and existing investor Insight Venture Partners, with participation from Innovation Endeavors, Oryzn Capital and Salesforce Ventures.

+ Compass News, a NYC-based app designed to give users an informative digest of the day’s news, secured $1 million in seed funding led by Bloomberg, Matter VC (backed by Google News Lab and the New York Times), Hambro Perks VC and Charlie Songhurst (from Katana Capital).

+ Checkr, a San Francisco-based provider of compliant background check tech platform, raised $100 million in Series C funding led by funds and accounts managed by T. Rowe Price Associates, with participation from existing investors Accel and Y Combinator.

+ Tentrr, a NYC-based peer-to-peer marketplace of campsites, closed $8 million in Series A funding led by West Venture Partners with participation from Obvious Ventures, Great Oaks Venture Capital, Halogen Ventures, Rivet Ventures and WorldQuant Ventures.

+ OPAQ Networks, a Virginia-based network-security cloud company, closed a $22.5 million Series B financing round led by new investor Greenspring Associates with participation from Columbia Capital and Harmony Partners.



Food for thought: How the millennial mindset is redefining product development in the food-and-beverage industries.

Big comeback: Anyone who thought innovation was reserved for early-stage enterprises had better check the annual Pharmaceutical Innovation Index, packed with Big Pharma creativity.

What you crave, or something like it: Iconic burger chain White Castle is now offering vegan Impossible Burgers. (They’re so real they “bleed.” Yum.)

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