Kings County start-ups win big at Make It in Brooklyn Innovation Awards

Winners: NYU Tandon School of Engineering Dean, Jelena Kovačević presents the Smart City Startup of the Year Award to the team from Hylas.
Argenis Apolinario


Three cheers for the winners of Downtown Brooklyn Partnership’s first-ever Make It in Brooklyn Innovation Awards.

The guests of honor were selected after locals cast more than 1,000 votes to name the best Kings County start-ups, whose leaders all took home shiny trophies, a $1,000 check, and bragging rights from the celebration at Downtown’s Circa Brewery on Dec. 5.

Downtown Brooklyn Partnership president Regina Myer handed the head of Benefit Kitchen, which helps low-income families, The MaryAnne Gilmartin Innovation Award.

It was humbling to take home an honor dedicated to female-founded start-ups from an organization that continuosly supports women in business, said its founder.

“I was honored to win the female entrepreneurial award for our work at Benefit Kitchen. We are a Brooklyn-based start-up that helps low-income families find all the resources they need to build paths out of poverty, and delight in working to accomplish these goals,” said Melanie Lavelle. “The Downtown Brooklyn Partnership is a great resource for female founders as they support and spread the word about all the good happening in our community.”

Leaders of the Downtown business-booster group also named company Hylas the Smart City Startup of the Year, and company Nexloop the Innovator of the Year. — Julianne Cuba

Crown Heights

Trained for justice

New York’s top judge celebrated the grand opening of a state-of-the-art officer-training academy in Crown Heights on Dec. 3, which she said will ensure the state’s justice system stays safe — and courteous.

“Court officers not only play a critical role in safeguarding our courts, but are also the public face of the court system,” said Chief Judge Janet DiFiore. “We now have a customized facility that will enable our team of top-notch instructors to pursue and instill excellence in our court officers through a broad range of training activities.”

The new training center, called the Captain William H. Thompson, Sergeant Thomas Jurgens and Sergeant Mitchel Wallace Court Officers Academy, is named after court officers who died heroically amid the 9-11 rescue effort at the World Trade Center, and features top-of-the-line facilities within the St. John’s Place building between Classon and Franklin avenues that was formerly home to the St. Theresa School.

The remodeled schoolhouse features new classrooms, a multi-purpose gym, locker-room facilities, and a training area with a retractable wall.

There, officers will endure a rigorous, four-month, basic-training program, in which they’ll study criminal law, civil law, family law, constitutional law, and arrest procedures, in addition to tactical training focusing on weapons including the baton, pepper spray, and firearms.

But it’s not all about doing harm, and court officers will also be versed in first aid and CPR before they graduate the training program, along with crowd-control tactics, and surveillance skills.

Borough Wide

Big-hearted Brooklynites

Standing O gives two thumbs way up to caring fund-raisers and donors, who altogether raised $4,000 for the March of Dimes organization and prematurity awareness through several borough events.

Art studio Pinot’s Palette hosted two “Painting for Preemies” events on Nov. 17 — which is officially recognized as World Prematurity Day — at its two locations in Dyker Heights and Park Slope, raising more than $2,000. Children and families who took part painted a penguin-themed canvas, enjoyed pizza, and tried to win a wide array of donated prizes.

“During Prematurity Awareness Month, Brooklyn families truly stepped up to the plate to support March of Dimes,” said John Quaglione, co-chair of the March of Dimes Brooklyn Committee.

Local schools — including PS 127, PS 160, PS 186, and St. Anselm Catholic Academy — also collected $2,000 through various activities.— Courtney Donahue

In memory: A plaque in memory of Sergeant Thomas Jurgens, Captain William H. Thompson, and Sergeant Mitchell Wallace, who the new court officers academy is named for, is presented to family members. The plaque will adorn the lobby of the New York State Unified Court System’s new state-of-the-art center.
Photo by Trey Pentecost

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