No. 476: On Corn Flakes, ‘Crushies’ and cardiac catheters, featuring our latest innovative awardees

Family affair: Now drawn and written by his son, Jeff Keane, cartoonist Bil Keane's classic "The Family Circus" debuted on Feb. 19, 1960.


Hot to trot: Welcome to Wednesday, dear readers, as we race our way through this latest (surprisingly warm) winter workweek.

It’s Feb. 19 out there, already the 50th day of 2020 and a busy one around the globe: Armed Forces Day in Mexico, Flag Day in Turkmenistan and the Commemoration of Vasil Levski in Bulgaria, remembering that nation’s “apostle of freedom.”

Iconic: Six U.S. Marines raise Old Glory atop Mount Suribachi. Three of these men would later die in the Battle of Iwo Jima.

Flags of our fathers: Here in the States, we mark Iwo Jima Day – marking the start of the epic, five-week World War II battle 750 miles off the Japanese coast – and National Mint Chocolate Day, because sure, why not?

Record achievement: Prolific inventor Thomas Edison certainly had plenty of big days, but none bigger than Feb. 19, 1878, when he patented his famous phonograph.

Other U.S. patents issued on this date include one in 1856 for inventor Hamilton Smith and his tintype-plate camera.

Breakfast of champions: The Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Co., known today as Kellogg’s, was founded on Feb. 19, 1906.

Circus act: Still ranked by some measures as the world’s most popular comic strip, the late Bil Keane’s “The Family Circus” debuted on this date in 1960.

Sinking to new depths: Aaaaalvin!

Deep thoughts: And it was Feb. 19, 1977, when deep-sea researchers John Corliss and John Elmond piloted the research submarine Alvin to the Pacific Ocean floor off the Galapagos Islands, where they found a treasure trove of previously undiscovered life forms.

A helio of a guy: Polish stargazer Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) – the “father of modern astronomy” and the first European to suggest the Earth revolves around the sun, not vice versa – would be 547 years old today.

See worthy: Charting a course.

Also born on Feb. 19 were Scottish ironman William Fairbairn (1789-1874), a structural engineer and pioneer of wrought-iron construction; Dutch ophthalmologist Herman Snellen (1834-1908), whose block-lettered Snellen Eye Chart is still used to test eyesight; American anthropologist John Reed Swanton (1873-1958), a foremost authority on Native American ethnology; big-screen tough guy Lee Marvin (1924-1987); and astronaut Rodolfo Neri Vela (born 1952), an electrical engineer who joined the crew of a 1985 NASA space shuttle mission to become the first Mexican in space.

Of all the luck: And take a bow, Amy Tan – the San Francisco-born author of “The Joy Luck Club,” whose collective works focus mainly on the Chinese-American experience, turns 68 today.

Give the 15th century astronomer, the 21st century author and all the Feb. 19 innovators in between your best at And with a little luck, you’ll also deliver joy with a story tip or calendar item.


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Retail value: A lifestyle boutique with a heart of gold has opened in Wading River, marking the latest startup effort by an entrepreneurial mother of two special-needs children.

Local lawmakers, businesspeople and educators joined owner Stacey Wohl at a Feb. 13 ribbon-cutting for the be(Cause) Lifestyle Boutique, which features an assortment of handmade clothing and jewelry, soaps, scented candles, baked goods, gift baskets and more, much of it created by local artists, and offers employment opportunities to the developmentally disabled.

Wohl, who started wholesale coffee company Coffee With a Cause in 2012 and followed that in 2016 with the Cause Café in Northport, originally got into business to teach her own children the ropes, but said she’s now proud to help other special-needs people also achieve personal independence. “We provide job opportunities to older children and young adults with autism and special needs,” the innovator noted. “This allows them to not only become gainfully employed, but to lead productive lives.”

Simply the best: A big round of applause, please, for the next batch of amazing honorees set to share the spotlight at our 2020 Innovator of the Year Awards, coming March 24 to the Crest Hollow Country Club.

This week, we reveal superstar innovators from the New York Institute of Technology, Northwell Health and the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research, plus a trifecta of next-level thinkers representing Hofstra University:

  • New York Tech College of Engineering and Computing Science investigator Ziqian (Cecilia) Dong, exploring the food/energy/water nexus
  • Northwell Health Labs Executive Director Dwayne Breining, head of the R&D team responsible for breakthrough blood-test tech LabFly
  • Feinstein Institutes assistant professor Stavros Zanos, a nerve-stimulation pioneer
  • Hofstra University biology student Michael Lai, creator of rehab-focused mobile tech Cress Health
  • Hofstra’s Terri Arnold-McKenzie, program manager for diversity-focused capital-access program Ascend Long Island
  • Hofstra business student Dylan Ander, CEO of digital marketing agency Next Core Media

More honorees, including our 2020 Master of Innovation, coming soon to a newsletter near you. Until then, everything you need to know about our A-list breakfast networker and awards show – including sponsorship opportunities, ticket pricing and registration – awaits here.



Closer to the heart: State approval of Northwell Health’s new cardiac catheterization laboratories is good news for Long Island heart patients.

The can can: And the bottle helps, too, as Long Island innovators salute artists and advertisers – and gain nation attention – with the first Craft Beer Marketing Awards.

Veeco vindication: The corporate transformation may be working at Oyster Bay’s Veeco Instruments, which reports higher quarterly revenues and lower annual losses.



Missing links: Marketers, PR pros and communications execs are hired to sell connections, not products, according to media expert David Chauvin, who shares this and other critical brand-building truisms in his latest Voices masterpiece.


Think fast: Cyber-criminals are smart. Is the U.S. smarter?


Counterintuitive: Do government-consulting rules stifle innovation? Forbes explores.

Counterintelligent: Is the U.S. national counterintelligence plan sufficient? Security magazine considers.

Counterpoint: As AI-fueled innovations soar, who’s really the inventor here? LiveMint debates.



+ Bravo Sierra, a New York City-based defense contractor engineering products for both military and civilian customers, closed a $12 million Series A funding round led by Global Founders Capital, Mousse Partners, Canaan Partners, Redo Ventures, Grace Beauty Capital and Lapa Capital.

+ CloudCath, a California-based provider of remote monitors for catheter patients, completed a $12 million Series A financing led by Capital Integral, FundRx, The Capital Partnership, Coconut Tree Investments and Stanford University’s StartX Fund, among others.

+ Praetorian, a Texas-based cybersecurity company, raised $10 million in Series A funding. Backers included Bill Wood Ventures and McKinsey & Co.

+ n2uitive, a Washington State-based claims-management platform for insurers, raised $1.3 million in funding led by Cascade Seed Fund.

+ GumGum, a California-based computer-vision and natural-language processing company, secured $22 million in Series B funding. Backers included Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital, NewView Capital and Upfront Ventures.

+ Reggora, a Massachusetts-based provider of residential-appraisal software platforms, raised $10 million in Series A funding led by Spark Capital, with participation from Boston Seed Capital.



It’s complete: Surprise, the new XFL doesn’t suck.

X: Unique kickoffs, the three-point conversion and other novelties make the upstart XFL surprisingly fun.

Y: Know your Millennials? Here’s why Generation Y is probably not who you think.

Z: Looks like Samsung’s innovative Galaxy Z Flip is a flop.

A-list: Please continue to support the top professionals who support Innovate LI, including the hard workers at Nixon Peabody, where Managing Partner Allan Cohen’s Jericho office has its finger on Long Island’s thriving innovation pulse.