No. 55: Wind-powered bridges, a cool new brew and the machines are coming to Wall Street

INNOVATION GOES HIRE: Tech employment in NYC jumped by more than 40K, to about 115K, since 2007, a 57 percent increase and six times the pace of other job growth in the City. That’s still not quite what Mayor de Blasio has been claiming, but it’s impressive nonetheless. Average tech wage, BTW, $118K versus $84K citywide.

Which may be why: A new LIA report on the economic links between Long Island and NYC suggests the number of reverse commuters has declined by 8.3 percent in the last few years, to about 80,000. Only 5 percent of them use the LIRR, so unless they’re carpooling, that’s an extra 76,000 cars a day on the LIE. Just saying.

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ANYTIME, ANYWHERE LEARNING: Stony Brook University kicked off its summer academy for incoming freshman by equipping 185 of them with iPads under its Mobile/Digital Now program.

BUT NO FRATERNITY PARTIES: Open Classrooms, the subscription-based digital university platform, has inked a deal with France to provide own-pace bachelor degrees in engineering, design and digital marketing. Normally, students pay a gym-membership-like monthly fee of about $25 to attend non-degree classes. The bachelor classes will run about $350 a month.

OPPOSITES DON’T ATTRACT: Women engineers marry other engineers at a higher rate than any other college-educated group. (For men, it’s nursing. Duh.)

DON’T FILL ‘ER UP: A team of Canadian students have built a car that gets 2,098 miles to the gallon.

Which is not why: The United States posted a trade surplus with Canada for the first time since 1990.

ABOUT OUR SPONSOR: Farrell Fritz, a full-service law firm with 15 practice groups, represents numerous emerging companies and venture capital funds. The firm advises startups on entity formation, founder and shareholder agreements, funding, executive compensation and benefits, licensing and technology transfer, mergers and acquisitions and other strategic transactions. The firm’s blog, New York Venture Hub, discusses legal and business issues facing entrepreneurs and investors.

ARCH ENERGY: British researchers have determined that turbines can be easily placed between the supports of bridges, turning cross winds into energy. An Italian team has gone one better with a design to add solar collectors on the road bed.

WEWORKING TOGETHER: Two of NYC’s most prominent developers are teaming up with WeWork for the space-sharing firm’s first ground-up project. Boston Properties and Rudin Management will co-develop the space, a 675K sf building in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. WeWork has so far leased 1.65M sf of space.

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LATHERING UP: Harry’s, the fast-growing NYC e-seller of men’s shaving gear, has closed a $75M round that values the company at $750M. The firm plans to use the infusion to expand its Feintechnik blade factory, a century-old German manufacturer it bought last year for $100M. We took a recent look at Harry’s top competitor, Dollar Shave Club.

Somewhat related: Players in the men’s grooming industry use athletes in their ads because grooming makes men “a little bit nervous,” one expert suggests, and athletes are “strong, virile guys.”

And kinda related to that: Marketing agencies said they would spend even more than this year’s projected digital ad spend of $513B if they could just get better metrics on response.

CRYPTOCURRENCY REGULATORS COMING SOON: Citigroup is testing its own digital currency to be called – wait for it – Citicoin.

On a smaller scale: Albany startup Node40 is cashing in on the virtual currency Dash, which is really more like a Western Union wire service but is already making money for founder Perry Woodin.

HONORING ED: Moustache Brewing Co. is issuing a double IPA called Buffalo Theory to honor the late brewmeister Ed Hahne, who passed a year ago. Proceeds to benefit a Hahne scholarship fund at Stony Brook University.

Buffalo Theory, you ask? Like a predator killing the weakest buffalo in the herd, beer kills a human’s weakest brain cells. Which is why you always feel smarter after a couple of pints. The Hahne memorial brew will be unveiled Sunday at Moustache’s Riverhead HQ.

Totally unrelated: Organizers of a Danish music festival collected urine from the fans to fertilize local barley crops used to make beer. Brews from the so-called “Piss to Pilsner” program will be served at the festival’s 2017 running.

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SMART TRADES: Robotic trading machines will one day so dominate the capital markets that arbitrage will essentially cease to exist, the World Economic Forum has warned. Ditto for brokers. (And I hope they get the one who told me Kodak was a comer.)

Speaking of robots: China, which snapped up most of the world’s manufacturing jobs, is increasingly turning to robots as worker pay rises there, too. By next year, China will have installed more robots than any other country.

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HEALTHY NUMBERS: Digital health investment held its own in the first half of 2015 when compared to last year’s blistering pace of $4.3B. Top categories: Wearables, big data, consumer engagement, telemedicine and employee wellness platforms.

A CURE FOR AFFORDABLE CARE: St. James hedge fund manager Chris Lonardo started out just trying to help his fiancée get out from under health care’s mountain of paperwork. Their hot startup, Coalytics, could change the face of Obamacare.

WORTH HIS SALT: Brimes Energy boss Ramuel Maramara, who’s poised to put his wave-run power generator out for sea tests in August, has discovered a nifty side use for his invention. It desalinates seawater. SBU-based Maramara is being a little skimpy on details until his patents are in place, but California almond growers should take notice now.

FINALLY: Growing legal marijuana already consumes 1 percent of the electricity in our country, causing financial problems for small producers like Colorado’s Stephen Keen. His answer: Hydro Innovations, which serves up energy-saving solutions for growers. It’s actually more lucrative than selling pot.


ON POINT: Before there were radios, U.S. Postal Service pilots followed giant concrete arrows to fly mail coast to coast. Some of the 70-foot markers still exist. (Closest to us: Hanover, Va.)

ATTENTION TED WILLIAMS: Fordham biologist Steven Franks’ is freezing 3 million seeds to later grow so-called “Lazarus plants” that can be compared to their ancestral flora, helping researchers better understand evolution and climate change. Fridge times will vary, but at least 10 years.

MAKING OUR WAY IN THE WORLD: Loggerhead turtles – and spiny lobsters, monarch butterflies and termites, for that matter – have magnetite crystals in their brains that help them maneuver using Earth’s magnetic field. We have smartphones, sat nav and GPS. But,the New Yorker asks, what would happen if we turned them all off?

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Compiled by John Kominicki. Thanks for reading.