No. 500: Voices from the past, eyes on the future

Milestone: A moderate achievement, a lasting legacy and a hell of a lot of Below the Folds. Thank you for your loyalty and support, dear readers.

That’s, like, half-a-thousand: Welcome to Wednesday, dear readers, and a special edition of your Innovate Long Island newsletter.

Succession story: Founder Kominicki, President McDonnell, back in the day (and still forging ahead).

It’s May 13 out there, midpoint of another busy workweek, and this is our official 500th newsletter. Reaching this milestone years after losing Publisher John Kominicki – entrepreneurial founder, tireless promotor, driving engine – was highly unlikely. Doing it without you would have been literally impossible.

So thank you, newsletter subscribers and website visitors, inventors and investors, researchers and rainmakers and everyone who makes this innovation economy tick, and invites us in to share. We’re honored to tell your inspirational story.

Check our math: Before we really start jerking tears, a quick audit, because our official 500th newsletter is not actually our 500th newsletter.

First, the Myth of the Missing 22: A quick check of our newsletter archive shows that our own record-keeping begins at “No. 23” – and even we don’t know the composition or current whereabouts of Nos. 1 through 22. We can’t even confirm they ever existed. Spooky.

Then there are our Monday newsletters, which focus primarily on calendar items and – for whatever cosmic reason – are not archived or numbered. The K-Man took this secret with him, and we shall not debate his profound wisdom at these proceedings.

And of course, there were Kominicki’s earliest e-blasts, beamed out way back in early 2015 to a small circle of closely held compatriots and partners – test drives for what would ultimately round into the thrice-weekly newsletters we now know and love.

Bottom line: “No. 500” is mathematically impossible – though it sure is a pretty plateau.

What he said: We dug and found this – the very first words from the very first e-blast to carry the “InnovateLI” name, dated March 13, 2015, and written by the man himself.


Innovateli weekly

News, loose thoughts and opinion from inside the new economy



Good Friday and welcome to the InnovateLI weekly report. This roundup is for you, so please tell us how we can make it better. Send tips, news, ideas, events, promotions, job openings, complaints, criticisms and corrections to Checks also welcome.


For the record, that early e-blast went on to reference Port Washington-based Systemax, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory spinoff DepYMed, Brookhaven National Laboratory’s Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, then-upstart LaunchPad Huntington and developer Don Monti.

What she said: Marlene McDonnell, Kominicki’s longtime professional partner and now Innovate LI’s intrepid president, was on that first mailing list, along with then-Accelerate Long Island exec Mark Lesko and innovators Tyler Roye and Andrew Hazen.

Whatever any of them thought about the fledgling bit of frontier journalism, Marlene recalls, there were no doubts about the man pulling the strings.

“People will always remember how you make them feel,” she says. “John had a gift for making people comfortable, feeling like they knew him. Everyone on Long Island called him a friend. We shared a belief that there’s always room at the table and that was so evident in John’s generosity to help a startup, get someone’s story on the website or give free advertising space to someone who needed the exposure.

“We all benefited from knowing him.”

Coming soon … No. 501: And so here we are, dear readers, together at this milestone moment, remembering our friend, honoring his legacy and embracing the future – individual futures intrinsically linked by socioeconomics, a common belief in the power of innovation and our shared hopes for Long Island, the country and the world.

We’ll keep telling your stories, talking about you on cool podcasts and otherwise banging the drum for the Long Island innovation economy. You keep reminding your fellow innovators to subscribe to our newsletter and keep those tips and events coming at

And we’ll see you at No. 1,000.


About our sponsor: The Law Offices of Andrew Presberg is Long Island’s premier “IDA attorney” for businesses relocating, expanding and growing on Long Island. Founded in 1984, the practice also focuses on the purchase, sale, leasing and financing of commercial and industrial property, SBA loan transactions, construction, commercial banking and real estate litigation.



Laura Curran: Coming up roses.

Full bloom: The Nassau County Industrial Development Agency has officially adopted a 15-year Payment In Lieu Of Taxes program that will keep iconic retailer in Nassau County.

The incentives package, which received preliminary IDA approval last month, will help the retailer renovate and relocate into 96,000 square feet at iconic Jericho Plaza. The company, which is nearing the end of its lease of 80,500 square feet in Carle Place, was eyeing greener out-of-state pastures, but its roughly 400 employees will stay in Nassau courtesy of a PILOT plan that grants more than $500,000 in sales-tax exemptions and holds the line on property tax payments for 10 years, followed by five years of below-the-curve property tax-rate hikes.

It’s a worthy investment, according to Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, who calculates an $8.5 million net tax benefit for county coffers over the 15-year deal. “Internet-based companies can operate anywhere,” Curran said Tuesday. “But this iconic company has decided to develop their new headquarters and employ hundreds of residents right here in Nassau.”

Wheels up: Innovative air time for the grounded Bethpage Air Show.

The air show must go on: Look, up in the sky – well, look at your screens, at least, because the Bethpage Air Show, one of Long Island’s most enduring annual attractions, is going virtual.

Shot down by the great 2020 pandemic, Bethpage Federal Credit Union’s popular Memorial Day weekend wing-a-thon will enjoy a phoenix-like rebirth as The Bethpage Virtual Air Show Experience, with BFCU and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation throttling up several interactive online attractions throughout May (full flight plan here).

The lineup includes an album of user-submitted photos from previous airshows, updated weekly; a downloadable kids’ activity book filled with word searches, coloring pages and paper airplane instructions; and the Bethpage Virtual Air Show, a high-definition smorgasbord of planes, pilots, tumbles and turns scheduled to stream May 24. “We can never replace the Bethpage Air Show,” noted Bethpage Senior VP Linda Armyn. “However, we are thrilled to have the opportunity to now connect our fans with show performers and organizers in a special way.”



Hilary Topper On Everything: Innovate LI Debriefs the longtime Long Island PR pro, who’s seen the region brave many different crises – but nothing like this.

Turnaround, fair play: Gov. Cuomo has reversed a key coronavirus position – and is warning federal regulators to keep it clean regarding stimulus funding.

Innovation in the Age of Coronavirus: Trial by fire for Zucker School grads, ambitious antibody action at Northwell Health and New York’s grand reopening begins – it’s COVID-19, Island-style, in LI’s one-and-only Pandemic Primer.



America’s scattershot pandemic response is extremely dangerous, warns ace attorney and newest Voices slugger Michael Sahn, who joins our stellar rotation with a measured call for national leadership, before it’s too late.



Warp speed: COVID-19 will spur five years’ worth of innovation over the next 18 months. Forbes catches up.

Corp seed: How pandemic-related grantmaking is affecting private industry and nonprofits throughout Greater New York. Inside Philanthropy takes a count.

Warped need: State governors are earning high marks for their coronavirus responses, but President Trump wants the credit. The Washington Post sees a pattern.



+ Paradox, an Arizona-based conversational AI platform that automates administrative tasks and delivers real-time employee communications, raised $40 million in Series B funding led by Brighton Park Capital.

+ CorVent Medical, a New York City-based company developing smart ventilators for critical care, closed a $4.5 million seed-financing round led by Sofinnova Partners, Redmile Group, Exor Seeds, Genesis Medtech Group, The Deerfield Foundation, The Pagliuca Family Office and Accel Founder Jim Swartz.

+ Braid Health, a California-based digital health-innovation company developing AI-powered radiology diagnostic tools, closed a $9 million combined seed-funding/Series  A round led by Lux Capital, with participation from 01 Advisors and Rucker Park Capital.

+ Jellyfish, a Massachusetts-based provider of an engineering-management platform, raised over $12 million in funding. Backers included Accel and Wing Venture Capital.

+ Embody Inc., a Virginia-based medical-device company focused on soft tissue repair, closed a $9.3 million Series A funding round led by Litigit LLC, with participation from Cultivate(MD) and 757 Angels.


BELOW THE FOLD (The Big 5-0-0 Edition)

Il capo dei capi: Corleone or Kane? Tough call.

We couldn’t choose: So here are the 500 Greatest Movies of All Time according to Empire magazine (“The Godfather” to Soderbergh’s “Ocean’s 11”) and IMDb (“Citizen Kane” to “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”).

Like a Rolling Stone: The definitive music mag’s 500 Greatest Albums and 500 Greatest Songs.

500 Reasons: Plugging the circa-2017 global charity, which leverages small donations to do great things.

Also couldn’t do it without them: So thank you, most sincerely, to all of the amazing firms and organizations that support Innovate LI – including the Law Offices of Andrew Presberg, real estate lawyers extraordinaire and official 500th newsletter sponsor.