Delaware innovation shined in 2013

Tesla Motors – which unlike Fisker had a hugely successful year – decided to make Delaware one of its two original East Coast charging stations. The free plug-in areas are located at the I-95 rest stop between the exits for Del. 273 and Del. 896. / The News Journal

Innovation in Delaware was found in a wide range of settings during 2013 – from the laboratories of the state’s many research engines to advanced manufacturing plants, from the edge of I-95 to small businesses in Bear.

Each Monday, The News Journal brought you many of these creative ideas, company and entrepreneurs to show just how innovative the First State can be.

Today, we take a look back at some of the most unusual or interesting stories found in this space throughout the year.

Tiny device checks for pesticides

A group of scientists, many of them University of Delaware alumni, lead ANP Tech, a Newark company developing a handy little consumer product.

The color-coded device that resembles a pregnancy test kit can tell within minutes whether a fruit, vegetable or liquid contains a significant amount of pesticides. The product already is available in Janssen’s Market in Greenville, Zingo’s Supermarket in Pike Creek and ShopRite in Brandywine Hundred. The company believes the concept will be a hit with health-conscious consumers.

“Many people are more conscientious about nutritional values of the food they consume each day without knowing that the low level of pesticides they could be taking in from various food and drink sources can be toxic to them in the long run,” said Ray Yin, CEO of the company and inventor of the technology.

Bear, Delaware’s digital hub

Dr. Ulhas Naik, professor of biological sciences at the University of Delaware and director of the Delaware Cardiovascular Research Center, helped develop a natural drug undergoing trials for the treatment of hemophilia. A brown seaweed called laminaria jamponica may hold the key to curing the genetic disease that prevents the blood from clotting. / KYLE GRANTHAM/THE NEWS JOURNAL

That was the assessment of none other than Google, one of America’s all-time great innovators.

The tech firm determined that the business community between Baltimore Pike and I-95 – a borderless area that Delawareans know as Bear – is No. 1 in the First State at leveraging technological tools.

Local observers pointed to Bear’s significant amount of “mom-and-pop” businesses as the key reason for the distinction. Such businesses don’t have the resources for big-budget advertising and marketing, but with a strong digital and social media presence, they can get the word out to their customers.

Cream of the crop

Pharmacist Mark Isabella has developed a healthy side business for Formula II Skin Care Cream. Isabella's father, Sam, concocted the skin product in the family's basement during the 1960s to treat rashes and skin irritations. / JENNIFER CORBETT/THE NEWS JOURNAL

A local pharmacist decided to take a family formula to a new level in hopes of making it into a national brand.

A pharmacist at a Walgreens in Bear by day, Mark Isabella has developed a healthy side business for Formula II Skin Care Cream. Isabella’s father, Sam, concocted the skin product in the family’s basement during the 1960s to treat rashes and skin irritations.

The cream got its commercial start at the former Happy Harry’s, and now even Christiana Care System uses the product. Isabella is now embarking on a plan to get Formula II in independent drug stores through the middle Atlantic.

At least we have Tesla, sort of

The final nail in the coffin of electric car maker Fisker Automotive was among the biggest business stories in Delaware during 2013. If it’s any consolation, Delaware still has a small presence from another electric car company.

Tesla Motors – which unlike Fisker had a hugely successful year –decided to make Delaware one of its two original East Coast charging stations. The free plug-in areas are located at the I-95 rest stop between the exits for Del. 273 and Del. 896.

With its other station in Connecticut, Delaware was a natural choice to allow an extended travel area for the car company’s rapidly growing clientele.

The vehicles have a 160- to 265-mile range when charged and must be plugged in for about a half hour when needing more juice.

Seaweed treatment for hemophilia

A researcher at the University of Delaware has found a potential cure for hemophilia from a most unlikely source – under the sea.

A brown seaweed called laminaria jamponica may hold the key to curing the genetic disease that prevents the blood from clotting. The seaweed contains a substance known as Fucoidan, a key ingredient in a new drug developed by the Baxter Healthcare Corp. known as BAX 513.

Ulhhas Naik, director of UD’s Cardiovascular Research Center, published findings of a two-year study on mice he did with Temple University researchers in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

The research discovered that Fucoidan caused the activation of platelets, the cells that give blood the ability to clot.

Corianne Natoli and Aaton Nathans contributed to this report.