No. 496: In which gender barriers bust, childcare costs spiral and Hofstra pivots, with pride

Hirohito of the people: Japanese Emperor Hirohito -- Japan's 124th emperor, who reigned longer than any other monarch in the nation's ancient history -- was born 119 years ago today.


Rock on: It’s another work-from-home Wednesday, dear readers, as we muscle through a tough workweek marked by bitter national divisions, phased re-openings and no real endgame (yet) for the great 2020 pandemic.

Nice try, universe: Maybe next time.

The good news is, a mile-wide planet-killer asteroid zooming through the Solar System at a breezy 19,000 miles per hour will narrowly miss Earth today. So, no worries there.

Wish list: On that cheery note, welcome to April 29 – World Wish Day (a big one for the many beneficiaries of the Make-A-Wish-Foundation) and International Guide Dog Day (fairly self-explanatory).

Fish and dips: Here’s an interesting combo for the sequestered – National Shrimp Scampi Day (honoring a dish that literally translates to “shrimp shrimp”) and International Dance Day (recalling the 1727 birth of modern ballet progenitor Jean-Georges Noverre).

What’s another word for “innovation”? British physician/theologian Peter Mark Roget’s “Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases Classified So As to Facilitate the Expression of Ideas and to Assist in Literary Composition” – known best as Roget’s Thesaurus – was first published on this date in 1852.

True story: Roget actually wrote the thing 50 years earlier.

Move over, boys: American scientist Florence Sabin, the first woman to hold a full professorship at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, became the first woman elected to the U.S. Academy of Sciences on April 29, 1925.

That happened fast: Still a workhorse eight decades later, the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge was built in less than two years.

Overarching theme: Providing the second motor-vehicle connection between Queens and the Bronx (after the then-Triborough, now-Robert F. Kennedy Bridge), the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge opened to vehicular traffic on this date in 1939.

Amazingly, the 3,700-foot span opened just 23 months after its initial construction contract was awarded.

A patent with real teeth: New Jersey inventor Gideon Sundback patented the zipper on April 29, 1913.

Other U.S. patents issued on this date include one in 1952 for Illinois innovator George Marsden, who improved the mechanical protractor.

In space, no one can hear you debate politics: And it was April 29, 1997, when American astronaut Jerry Linenger and Russian cosmonaut Vasily Tsibliyev completed the first-ever joint American-Russian spacewalk, a five-hour jaunt outside the space station Mir.

You Betsy your life: Groundbreaking plasma physicist, trailblazing engineer and inspiring feminist icon Betsy Ancker-Johnson (born 1927) – the first woman appointed by the president to the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. automobile industry’s first female VP (General Motors), among other impressive accomplishments – turns 93 today.

A good day to blow hard: Happy birthday, Willie.

Also born on April 29 were Austrian nuclear physicist Marietta Blau (1894-1970), who also busted gender barriers and foiled Nazis, too; American composer, pianist and jazz bandleader Edward “Duke” Ellington (1899-1974); Japanese Emperor Hirohito (1901-1989), who lost WWII but still led his nation until his death, finishing as Japan’s longest-reigning monarch; and fully baked actor, activist and country music legend Willie Nelson (born 1933).

Hello, Jerry! And take a bow, Jerome Allen Seinfeld – the Brooklyn-born comedian, actor, writer and producer, known best for playing a fictionalized version of himself, turns 66 today.

Wish the sitcom star, the game-changing scientists and all the other April 29 innovators a happy birthday at We’ll take the presents – story tips, calendar items, please and thank you.


About our sponsor: Nixon Peabody is an international law firm with an office in Jericho that works with clients who are building the technologies and industries of the future. We have the experience necessary to drive your business forward and help you negotiate risks and opportunities related to all areas of business and the law, including startup work, private placements, venture capital and private equity, IP and licensing, labor and immigration and mergers and acquisitions.



Born, freed: The last mommy/baby combo relocated to a temporary Northwell obstetrics unit heads home.

Baby steps: Northwell Health has delivered a blessed preview of the post-pandemic societal rebound, with four Northwell obstetrical units that were temporarily displaced by the COVID-19 crisis returning to normal operations.

When regional coronavirus hospitalizations peaked earlier this month, mothers delivering at Huntington Hospital, Bay Shore’s Southside Hospital, Manhasset’s North Shore University Hospital and New Hyde Park’s Long Island Jewish Medical Center were then transferred to makeshift postpartum units located outside each hospital – a two-pronged effort to ensure the safety of the moms and newborns and free up beds for COVID-19 patients.

With the tide slowly receding, mommies and babies are again spending their postpartum periods in their birth hospitals, and those makeshift obstetrics units – located inside Cohen Children’s Medical Center, the Schwartz Ambulatory Surgery Center and other ancillary Northwell facilities – are returning to normal functions. “We were able to free up hundreds of beds to care for critically ill patients,” noted Northwell Health Vice President and Chief Medical Officer David Battinelli. “We are profoundly grateful to our patients for their understanding and concern for everyone’s safety and wellbeing.”

Child’s play: A new study by the Nassau County Comptroller’s Office highlights a serious shortfall of childcare services available to county residents – a crippling social blow that threatens the county’s economic stability, according to Comptroller Jack Schnirman.

The report by the comptroller’s office’s Policy and Research Institute, titled “The Child Care Gap: How the Price of Child Care Impacts ‘The Deal’ of Living in Nassau County,” details how the price and limited accessibility of childcare threaten families, while also highlighting best practices from other national regions that could be implemented to make childcare more affordable and accessible here.

The report comes at a key time, according to Schnirman, as the pandemic pushes the childcare issue into an even brighter national spotlight. “With COVID-19 … shedding light on how dependent many already were on our education system to effectively serve as childcare, the critical look this report takes and success models it highlights are even more relevant to policymakers,” the comptroller noted. View the full report right here.



Adventures in Ventures: Hofstra’s annual business plan competition pivoted onto YouTube for an innovation-rich virtual finale.

Right place, right time: Expanding pharmaceutical manufacturers will bring 100-plus new jobs to Suffolk County, with a nod to the Suffolk IDA.

Innovation in the Age of Coronavirus: Coffee for heroes, a love line for essential workers and Dutch aphorisms for all – it’s COVID-19, Long Island-style, in our exclusive, enlightening Pandemic Primer.



Off-menu: Restaurants will return, but the industry has been changed forever, notes megawatt guest contributor Ron Edelman, who bolsters our Voices library – and regional restaurateurs – with a ground-view perspective on the eatery evolution.



Won’t remember a thing: Oh, you’ll recall the pandemic – but the details will probably blur. Vice explains.

Won’t hurt a bit: Ignore those contractions, says President Trump – the economy will be “incredibly strong” real soon. Fox News dutifully reports.

Won’t get fooled again: The president’s pandemic follies may finally alienate his elderly supporters – or possibly kill them. New York Magazine analyzes.



+ SwanBio Therapeutics, a Pennsylvania-based biotech developing gene-therapy treatments for neurological diseases, completed a $52 million expanded Series A financing led by Syncona Ltd. and Partners Innovation Fund.

+ H1, a New York City-based platform connecting healthcare and life-sciences with private industry, raised $12.9 million in Series A funding led by Menlo Ventures, with participation from Novartis dRx, Y Combinator, Baron Davis Enterprises, ClearPoint Investment Partners, Jeff Hammerbacher, Liquid 2 Ventures and Underscore VC.

+ AvidXchange, a North Carolina-based provider of middle-market accounts-payable and payment-automation solutions, raised an additional $128 million in equity funding. Contributing investors included Lone Pine Capital, Schonfeld Strategic Advisors, Pivot Investment Partners, Mastercard and Sixth Street Partners.

+ Myosana Therapeutics, a Washington State-based biotech startup developing novel platforms for non-viral gene delivery, raised up to $1 million in seed financing. CureDuchenne Ventures made the investment.

+ FreeWire Technologies, a California-based provider of “grid edge” power solutions, closed a $25 million Series B/venture debt financing led by returning investor BP Ventures and new investors ABB Technology Ventures and Energy Innovation Capital.

+ Biobot Analytics, a Massachusetts-based wastewater epidemiology company, raised $4.2 million in seed funding led by The Engine, with participation from AmFam Institute Impact Fund and previous investors Y Combinator and DCVC.



Circle of life: Even the king of the jungle — at least, the Bronx — is not immune to COVID-19.

Crossing the feline: Two New York cats are the first U.S. pets to test positive for COVID-19.

Puppy love: Pandemic-approved homemade treats for man’s best quarantined friend.

Lions and tigers, oh, my: The coronavirus has infected eight big cats at the Bronx Zoo.

Animal instincts: Please continue supporting the amazing firms that support Innovate LI, including Nixon Peabody, where the sharp-toothed Coronavirus Response Team is in perpetual beast mode.