No. 380: On Coach K, ‘foodpreneurs’ and Donna Drake’s new digs – plus, introducing our 2019 Innovators of the Year!

The right stuff: First to break the sound barrier in the rocket-engine-powered Bell X-1 aircraft, Chuck Yeager went from a private to brigadier general without a college education. The heroic test pilot turns 96 today.


Middle march: Onwards and upwards, dear readers, as this latest week of socioeconomic progress plows ahead.

It’s Feb. 13 out there, and if you had boozing brawler Guo Wei leading a military coup and declaring himself emperor of China’s short-lived Later Zhou dynasty on this date in 951 A.D., nice work – here’s a voucher for 100 copper Ban Liang coins.

Dial it up: Before we dive in, a peaceful World Radio Day – held every Feb. 13 to promote international dialogue and tolerance – to new newsletter subscribers Kyle, Stephen, Yurek, Carl, Mary, Klaus, Terry, Jeff, Tao, BK, Mark and Daniel. And to you, too.

Screen time: Others might have beaten him to it, but Frenchman Louis Lumière nonetheless patented his motion-picture camera and projector on this date in 1895.

They’re smaller now: Filling a 30-foot-by-50-foot room, the world’s first digital electronic computer – ENIAC, or the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator – debuted on Feb. 13, 1946, at the University of Pennsylvania.

Speaking of digital debuts, Apollo Computer Inc. – an early innovator of graphical workstations and other scientific computers – was founded in Massachusetts on this date in 1980. (It was acquired by Hewlett-Packard just nine years later for $941 million.)

Chairman of the Board: A little-known entrepreneur named Francis Albert Sinatra launched his own record label, Reprise Records, on this date in 1961.

Run on: And it was Feb. 13, 1981, when The New York Times published what is believed to be the longest published sentence of all time – a 1,286-word, one-sentence soliloquy by essayist Teju Cole.

You might not know him: But nuclear chemist Alfred Wolf (1923-1998), who achieved many organic-radiochemistry breakthroughs at Brookhaven National Laboratory, would have been 96 today.

Also born on Feb. 13 were transistor co-inventor William Shockley (1910-1989), talk-show instigator Jerry Springer (born 1944), legendary Duke University and Team USA basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski (born 1947) and famed fitness instructor/author Denise Austin (born 1957), once a member of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.

Still flying: And take a bow, Chuck Yeager – the daring American test pilot and first man to break the sound barrier turns 96 today.

Wish them all a happy birthday at, and drop off a story tip or calendar item while you’re there, please and thank you.


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Teaching tomorrow’s teachers: On a long-term mission to bolster its own faculty, Farmingdale State College will join forces with other Long Island colleges – and leverage a generous National Science Foundation grant – in an effort to attract more PhD students, particularly minority students focused on STEM fields.

The five-year, $300,000 NSF grant will go to faculty and technology costs, bolstering a program that will mentor science, technology, engineering and mathematics-focused PhD candidates as teaching assistants, “with the goal of hiring them as full-time faculty,” the college said this week.

Farmingdale State will work with Suffolk County Community College and Stony Brook University on the program – SBU will be “the feeder school for PhD STEM students,” according to FSC – in a model the NSF described as “career development for historically underrepresented minority doctoral-degree students.”

Thought for food: Our friends at the Amagansett Food Institute are having a busy day today, launching a new monthly meetup designed to help the food-focused entrepreneur – they prefer “foodpreneur” – on business stuff occurring outside the kitchen.

Running any startup, including food startups, often requires the innovator to be CEO, sales manager, production manager and more. To that end, the AFI’s monthly Lunch & Learn for Foodpreneurs will connect early-stage business owners with other members of the local food community, allowing them to share ideas and workshop their way through common obstacles.

The monthly meetups kick off at noon today at South Fork Kitchens in Southampton (ticket prices and registration here, if it’s not too late, “locally sourced” lunch included). But don’t fret, there’s more to come – check with the AFI for more information.



Innovate Long Island is very proud to announce the first batch of entrepreneurs, inventors and organizations we’ll be honoring at our fourth-annual Innovator of the Year Awards, coming March 26 to the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury.

Regular readers know already that Mitch Maiman, CEO of Hauppauge-based Intelligent Product Solutions, is our 2019 Master of Innovation. Joining Mitch as this year’s honorees is an impressive cross-section of big thinkers, including:

  • Legendary Feinstein Institute researcher Betty Diamond, responsible in 2018 for multiple publications and breakthroughs in her relentless investigation of lupus
  • StorEn, a client of Stony Brook University’s Clean Energy Business Incubation Program, which is advancing the clean-gen science of revolutionary vanadium-flow batteries
  • Margaret and Bruce McDonough, founders of health pet-food startup Talk Treats to Me
  • Garden City’s Cradle of Aviation Museum, honored for its 50th anniversary celebration of the Apollo moon landing (and Long Island’s critical contributions)
  • Old friend Aaron Foss, whose uber-successful robocall blocker Nomorobo has hurtled past the 1 billion-calls-blocked plateau

Stay tuned to upcoming newsletters to learn about our other 2019 honorees (dozens in all!). And please plan to join us March 26 for our A-list breakfast celebration – sponsorship info, registration and all that good stuff awaits here.



Captain video: Welcome to marketing mecca LG Studios, a three-headed Edgewood video-production facility hosting the new “Donna Drake Show” – and maybe you, too.

B2Being the best: The concept was solid, but foodie-friendly loyalty app MunchMoney needed to fine-tune its tech and strategy. A year later, the West Islip startup is going national.

Kraut pleaser: Overcoming uncooperative Mother Nature and a nasty government-note refinancing, Jericho-based Nathan’s Famous relished a profitable third-quarter.



Developing story: Regional finance and job-training insiders tell workforce-development expert Rosalie Drago why the best innovation ROI often comes from investments in people.



Needle point: The New York Times digests a new high-tech pill that could eliminate medical injections.

Litigation stagnation: Companies that litigate instead of innovate – sue to stop progress, instead of progressing themselves – risk their future, Forbes warns.

Meter reader: Newsday explains why one Huntington restaurant is giving away quarter-dollars to customers.



+ HiberCell, a New York City-based biotechnology company developing cancer-relapse therapeutics, raised $60.75 million in Series A funding led by Arch Venture Partners, with participation from Hillhouse Capital, 6 Dimensions Capital, Celgene Corp. and the NYC Life Sciences Fund.

+ Nuvaira, a Minnesota-based developer of novel therapeutic medical devices to treat obstructive lung diseases, closed a $79 million equity financing round led by U.S. Venture Partners, with participation from Endeavour Vision, Qiming Venture Partners, Lightstone Ventures and Richard King Mellon Foundation, among others.

+ ChartIQ, a Virginia-based fin-tech software company, completed a $17.4 million Series B funding round led by Digital+ Partners, with participation from Illuminate Financial Management, Social Leverage and ValueStream Ventures.

+ SmartPath, a Georgia-based corporate financial wellness startup, raised more than $2.7 million in funding led by PJC, with participation from TTV, Y Combinator and several angel investors.

+ Siete Family Foods, a Texas-based Mexican-American food brand, raised $90 million in funding led by Stripes Group.

+ Aureus Analytics, a Connecticut-based provider of AI and a predictive-analytics platform for the insurance industry, raised $3.1 million in funding. Backers included Connecticut Innovations, Multi-Act, Alpine Meridian and existing investors.



Where the girls are? The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office warns that low numbers of women inventors is hurting American innovation.

Where the help is: StartupNation shares 20 essential (and free!) tools to jumpstart your business.

Where the experts live: Please continue supporting the great firms that support Innovate LI, including Sahn Ward Coschignano, where the Environment, Energy and Resources practice group is fairly awesome.