No. 407: Lincoln tinkers, Doyle detects, Alessi hustles and Northwell pays out – plus, the USPTO cometh

Wonder down under: Discovered by farmer Lester Howe on this date in 1842, Howe Caverns is now the second-most-visited natural attraction in New York State, after Niagara Falls.


Variety show: Welcome to Wednesday, dear readers, and the midpoint of another exciting week of inventing, incorporating and investing.

It’s May 22 out there, and we’re shouting out first to new newsletter subscribers August, Maribel, Louis, Gretta, Tom, Imran, Daniel, Art, Doug, Clint, Ross and Nina. You sound like a fine multicultural group, which is fitting, since you join us on this 26th anniversary of the UN’s International Day for Biological Diversity.

Break out the eye black: And embrace your dark side – today is also the 10th annual World Goth Day.

Full ahead: The first American-built, steam-propelled ship to cross the Atlantic Ocean, the Savannah, departed Georgia for England on this date in 1819.

Although its journey to Liverpool would last nearly a month, the vessel was powered by steam for only 80 total hours – the rest of the trip was conducted under traditional sails.

Cave in: The popular vacation destination Howe Caverns, a network of underground labyrinths located near upstate Cobleskill, was discovered by farmer Lester Howe on May 22, 1842.

Worth a mint: Connecticut dentist Washington Sheffield patented the collapsible toothpaste tube on this date in 1892.

Other U.S. patents issued on May 22 include one in 1894 for African-American inventor Simeon Newson’s portable “stoves and ranges for gaseous cooking” and one in 1906 for the Wright Brothers’ “wing-warping” flight-control technique.

Presidential patent: A lifelong tinkerer long fascinated with machines, Abraham Lincoln became the only U.S. president to earn a patent on this date in 1849, with his designs for a device to lift boats over shoals. (Though patented, the device was never constructed.)

Ether or: Engineer/entrepreneur Robert Metcalfe, who co-invented the Internet and co-founded computer-networking pioneer 3Com, wrote a memo on May 22, 1973, describing a method of transmitting data from early PCs to external devices, such as printers.

His multipoint data-communications system – the Ethernet – still dominates today.

Some young moons: And it was this date in 1995 when astronomers Amanda Bosh and Andrew Rivkin spotted two previously undiscovered moons of Saturn in photos taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.

Elementary: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930), the Scottish author, physician and brains behind fictional super-sleuth Sherlock Holmes, would be 160 years old today.

Also marking birthdays this May 22 are early English electrical engineer William Sturgeon (1783-1850), who devised the first electromagnet; German eye surgeon Albrecht Friedrich Wilhelm Ernst von Gräfe (1828-1870), remembered as the father of ophthalmology; American Impressionist painter Mary Stevenson Cassatt (1844-1926); British stage and film icon Laurence Olivier (1907-1989); legendary Belgian comic-book artist Hergé (aka Georges Prosper Remi, 1907-1983); and American politician/gay rights activist Harvey Milk (1930-1978).

Campbell supe: And take a bow, Naomi Campbell – the British-born supermodel, actress, activist and entrepreneur turns 49 today.

Wish these top-shelf innovators (and all the other May 22 birthday boys and girls) well at We’ll take the presents – story tips, calendar items, all sizes, please and thank you.


From our sponsor: Whether it’s helping with site selection, cutting through red tape or finding innovative ways to meet specific needs, businesses that settle in the Town of Islip soon learn we take a proactive approach to seeing them succeed. If your business wants to locate or expand in a stable community with great quality of life, it’s time you took a closer look at Islip.



Million-dollar babies: Northwell Health has named the winners of its 2019 Innovation Challenge, an annual showcase inviting health system employees to submit their ideas for medical-industry improvements.

More than 70 ideas were submitted and the best were selected by Northwell Health to advance to a five-team, “Shark Tank”-like final round, where two grand prize winners earned $500,000 awards – a four-member team pitching a digital tool delivering bedside info about Emergency Department patients, and a team led by Yousef Al-Abed, director of the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research’s Institute of Bioelectronic Medicine, investigating the creation of better peptides (small protein fragments) as part of more-effective drug therapies.

“The issues facing healthcare today require radical thinking and a commitment to innovation,” noted Northwell President and CEO Michael Dowling. “Northwell Health has a culture that fosters and rewards the marketplace of ideas. The best concepts often bubble up from employees.”

Setting the cable: The Village of Freeport has flipped the switch on an electric-power upgrade designed to protect regional ratepayers against large-scale outages.

Including about 1,200 feet of high-power transmission lines running some 50 feet below Freeport Channel and three concrete vaults securing additional cable, the $7 million Freeport Channel Crossing Electrical Improvements Project will “reassure uninterrupted electric power to emergency facilities during weather-related power outages,” according to the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery, which joined Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy and other project partners Tuesday to announce the project completion.

Providing electric-service resiliency to critical assets such as schools, firehouses and pump stations became a top priority after 2012’s Superstorm Sandy, which knocked out power to some 3,700 customers in the Freeport area and hindered the capabilities of regional first responders. “The residents and businesses greatly appreciate Gov. (Andrew) Cuomo’s concerns regarding the resiliency of Nassau County and Freeport post-Superstorm Sandy,” Kennedy said Tuesday.



Marathon man: Nobody does more for regional innovation than entrepreneur/activist Marc Alessi, who places Long Island at the epicenter of statewide economic development.

Invent event: The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is coming to Farmingdale State College, with a little help from the Long Island Inventors and Entrepreneurs Club.  

Shaking it off: The latest quarterly financials weren’t stellar at Hain Celestial or VOXX International, but both companies are predicting more economic consistency to come.



Put that in your pipeline: Business-incubation expert Phil Rugile says Long Island tech businesses must start filling their own talent pools – and he knows how they can.



Liquid assets: Newsday dives in as Huntington wheels and deals to improve operations in two local water districts.

Human capital: Forbes explains why the best innovations often come from industrious employees.

Lady writer: According to The Atlantic, nobody has ever really doubted that Shakespeare was a man – until now.



+ Phathom Pharmaceuticals, a California-based biopharma focused on gastrointestinal diseases, secured $140 million in funding led by Frazier Healthcare Partners, with participation from Medicxi, RA Capital Management and Abingworth, among others.

+ ArcherDX, a Colorado-based Molecular-technology company focused on personalized genomic medicine, closed an up to $60 million Series B financing round led by Perceptive Advisors, PBM Capital, Boulder Ventures, Longwood Fund and the Peierls Foundation.

+ Away, a New York City-based direct-to-consumer travel brand, closed a $100 million Series D funding round led by Wellington Management Co., with participation from Baillie Gifford, Lone Pine Capital and Global Founders Capital.

+ IsoPlexis, a Connecticut-based company focused on advancing single-cell biomarkers to address critical challenges in oncology, raised $25 million in Series C funding led by Northpond Ventures, Spring Mountain Capital, Ironwood Capital, North Sound Capital and Connecticut Innovations.

+ Impossible Foods, a California-based foodtech company, raised $300 million in Series E funding led by Temasek, Horizons Ventures, Jay Brown, Kirk Cousins, Paul George, JAY-Z, Trevor Noah, Alexis Ohanian, Kal Penn, Katy Perry, Questlove, Ruby Rose, Phil Rosenthal, Jaden Smith, Serena Williams, and Zedd.

+ Amastan Technologies, a Massachusetts-based provider of advanced ceramic, metal and composite materials, secured $11 million in Series B-2 funding led by Anzu Partners, with participation from Launch Capital, Material Impact and RKS Ventures.



The eyes have it: Why innovation in eyecare is still a critical global concern.

The NAIs have it: Stony Brook University has inducted 20 new members into the National Academy of Inventors.

Abstain: Could you quit Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Amazon? Exploring life without the five tech giants.

They’ve got our vote: Please continue supporting the amazing programs that support Innovate LI, including the Town of Islip’s economic development effort, where small business is always the winner.