the Power of Ideas channel

In Fairfax County, meaningful information and research fuel the Power of Ideas. That’s why we created the Power of Ideas Channel: to bring you the latest business and economic development news and information. Here, you can access articles curated and written by Fairfax County EDA, read the latest editions of our E-Bird news digest, review business news from NPR and learn about best practices from Harvard Business Review. Click below and experience the benefit of having the right information right at your fingertips.

Thursday, June 22, 2017 - 11:06am

Flying high: Omnispace, a satellite services provider based in Tysons Corner, raised $30 million in funding to promote its hybrid satellite system designed to serve customers in rural or far-flung locations. Andy Medici of the Washington Business Journal notes the filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission comes less than two years after Omnispace raised $16.7 million in previous funding rounds. Omnispace intends to ramp up its satellite network, which currently relies on Tysons Corner-based Intelsat.

Thursday, June 22, 2017 - 11:05am

Next up: Iridium, headquartered in Tysons Corner, is planning a June 25 launch of its second batch of "Next" satellites. Jane Edwards of ExecutiveBiz says the 10 satellites will take off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Six more launches are planned in the next 12 months to improve worldwide communications coverage. Additionally, CEO Matt Desch says Iridium is thinking about using previously flown first-stage boosters of SpaceX rockets in 2018 to cut the wait times between launches.

Thursday, June 22, 2017 - 11:05am

Holding the Perse strings: GTT Communications, a Tysons Corner-based provider of cloud networking services acquired New York-based Perseus for $37.5 million. Perseus provides high-speed network connectivity services to financial and e-commerce companies. According to a release posted by citybizlist, GTT expects the acquisition will add new clients as well as connections in Latin America, Asia Pacific, India and South Africa. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017 - 11:05am

Improved vision: Elbit Systems, an Israel-based company with operations in Reston, unveiled its "Eye in the Sky" surveillance system at this week's Paris Air Show. Designed for military and homeland security purposes, the system is capable of photographing and recording simultaneously from 10 areas from a height of 25,000 to 30,000 feet. Globes online launched a story about the system.

Thursday, June 22, 2017 - 11:04am

Suit, countersuit: The Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA) filed a $300 million countersuit against Northrop Grumman in Richmond on Wednesday. Michael Martz of the Richmond Times-Dispatch notes that the action comes in response to a civil suit filed by Northrop Grumman against the state last month in a long-running dispute over a large state IT network contract.

Thursday, June 22, 2017 - 11:03am

No hail storm here: Jeff Clabaugh of WTOP reports that the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted not to increase the number of taxi certificates it will issue this year. Demand for traditional taxicabs was down more than 37 percent from 2013 to 2016, primarily due to competition from ride-sharing services.

Thursday, June 22, 2017 - 11:02am

Humans are the problem: Folks are still talking about Cybertech Fairfax. Reporting for, Jessica Stasiw observes that experts at the June 13 conference presented by the FCEDA and Cybertech warned that human interaction remains likely to create the greatest challenges in terms of cybersecurity vulnerability. Stasiw also notes that the that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will host a Cyber Security R&D Showcase & Technical Workshop in July to display projects it is funding.

Thursday, June 22, 2017 - 11:00am

Start of a journey: Project Journey, a $1 billion overhaul designed to reduce traveler congestion, is about to start at Reagan National Airport. The multiyear construction project includes two new security checkpoints and a new commuter concourse. Karen Goff of the Washington Business Journal notes that work is beginning with the demolition of two hangars and an office building at the airport.

FCEDA, InnoHungary Tech Center are Tysons Corner stops for Hungarian business delegation on U.S. tour

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Fairfax County, Virginia – A delegation representing a diverse set of business sectors in Hungary visited the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority

Wednesday, June 21, 2017 - 10:13am

Competitors Northrop Grumman, CSRA bond on battlefield when it comes to fighting cybercrime

When it comes to battling a common enemy, heavyweight competitors like Northrop Grumman and CSRA can be the best of teammates.

"Competimates" is the term that Michael Papay, a vice president and the chief information security officer (CISO) at Northrop Grumman, uses to describe the relationship between his company and other government contractors when it comes to enhancing cybersecurity initiatives.

"I think when you get a local community together to look at the problem from all different angles, you're much stronger as a team than you are when you're trying to solve the problem individually," Papay said during a CISO panel discussion at the June 13 Cybertech Fairfax event presented by the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority with Israel-based Cybertech. The conference drew more than 400 attendees.

"You don't want to try (manage cybersecurity) on your own. You want to take advantage of scale. You want to take advantage of government organizations and your friends and competimates who are out there trying to solve the same problem.

"It's actually a very tight-knit community here. We've all got information to share, and we share it pretty openly. I think if you look around at all the big companies in Fairfax County, every one of them is part of some information sharing organization. You can't stand for the question from your board of directors when they ask: 'What information sharing organization do you participate in? And you answer, 'None.' " 

Seth Abrams, vice president and CTO of the Homeland Security Group for CSRA was part of a later panel, discussing global commerce and national defense.

"You always have to be vigilant, and working with a bunch of different companies is really the way to go," Abrams said. "It's a 'team sport' and you want to pick the right players, go to market with them and really protect the home base." For companies like Northrop Grumman and CSRA, both headquartered in the Falls Church area, that home base is Fairfax County.

"We have a thriving economy here that's innovative," Abrams said. "We have great schools, great jobs and people coming out of the military and the government who provide great insight into new cyber avenues."

That doesn't lessen the challenge. One reason, said Abrams, is that the battle is constant.

"People are seeing that damage can be done if you let your guard down...and the threats keep changing," he said. "As you as you put protection in place, you have to start thinking about the next thing you have to do. It's a lot like battling the flu. The inoculation you got last year isn't going to work this year. You always have to get the [latest] flu vaccine."

Abrams agreed with co-panelists, Omri Timianker, founder of I-OTT Ltd. and Cobweb Technologies of Israel, when Timianker suggested that one of the best ways for a company to test its system is to hire a competent hacker.

"It's a sad state of affairs," Abrams said, "but rent a hacker by the hour and send them out there on a mission." He then referred to one of the Cybertech keynote speakers, former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.

"Like Secretary Chertoff was saying, it's the guy in slippers in the basement who's your adversary. He's not just doing it to you. He's blasting [cyber threats] out to 500,000 pinpoints and seeing what sticks to the wall."

Seen and heard at Cybertech Fairfax:

Cyber Capital of the World: Balaji Venkatesan co-founder and president of cybersecurity company SD Solutions, based in Centreville and Luray, said he believes that Fairfax County is not only America's Cyber Gateway but the "Cyber Capital of the World."

He attended Cybertech Fairfax to keep abreast of problems facing CISOs and with new products being offered but said the most significant thing he heard during the morning session came from former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. "He made it clear that cybersecurity is not an individual issue with products to try, but that we need to work together - businesses and individuals -- as a community with government agencies," Venkatesan said. "They're all intertwined." 

More than a bank: Michael Johnson, senior vice president and CISO of Tysons Corner-based Capital One, had an interesting take on his company. "Here at Capital One, cyber (defense) is a top priority. We like to say we are a regulated technology company that just so happens to be a bank...I can't emphasize the importance of working with a dedicated team of cyber professionals.”

Works for exhibitors:  Splunk, which produces software for searching and analyzing big data and has operations in Tysons Corner, was one of the exhibitors at Cybertech Fairfax. "It's a nice-size turnout and I thought the presentations were fantastic," said Todd Stewart, regional sales manager for major accounts.

"From an exhibitor's perspective, we've seen a lot of traffic come across here. We've been able to access accounts that I don't think we had in the past. We have a very strong focus on the public sector with a local team based in Tysons Corner, so when we heard about this, we wanted to be part of it."

Unsolicited praise for Dent: Sally Kenyon Grant from the cybersecurity division of New York-based Comtech had unsolicited words of praise for Fairfax County CEO Michael Dent. "We do a great deal of business in Virginia," Grant said. "What we don't see is a lot of leadership from counties across the U.S. We need to see more Michael Dents. What he's doing here in Fairfax is what every county CISO should do: bring awareness as well as partnerships to education to bring the public, industry, academia and government together."

Truer words ...: At the end of the day, one of the first remarks from event moderator Nick Wakeman, editor of Washington Technology, continued to ring true: "You really can't build a wall high enough or thick enough to protect yourself," Wakeman said.

World's business come to Fairfax County. And thrive.
French firm finds tres bien location for attracting tech workers.
Tuesday, June 20, 2017 - 10:42am

Hot off the press: The FCEDA's Real Estate Report, published twice a year, is now available online. The current report, offering data including construction activity, leasing activity and vacancy rates for the county's commercial real estate market through the end of 2016, highlights an uptick in office space with more than 3.1 million square feet now under construction.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017 - 10:41am

Wondrous workplaces: The Washington Post 2017 rankings of the top workplaces in the Washington, D.C., area -- based on more than 52,000 employee surveys -- includes dozens of firms from Fairfax County. They include No.1-ranked Great American Restaurants as well as Hitt Contracting, CustomInk, Noblis and MITRE among large companies, Carfax and Acclaim Technical Services among mid-size companies and ThunderCat Technology, Moss Building & Design and Macedon Technologies among small companies.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017 - 10:40am

Securing funding for security: MKACyber of Merrifield raised $4.1 million in its first round of funding. MKACyber offers services designed to help commercial and federal government clients modernize security operations. The Potomac Tech Wire picked up the release, which said the company will use the funds to expand its managed security services business while boosting sales, customer support and marketing.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017 - 10:40am

Hardly Pockit changePockitShip, which is based in the Falls Church area and connects truck operators who have extra capacity with folks who have large items to move, is seeking to raise up to $5 million to expand its business along the East Coast. Andy Medici, in a story for subscribers of the Washington Business Journal, reports the company has raised about half of its initial $1 million funding round and plans a $4 million round early in 2018. The company reports it has moved about 10,000 items since its December 2015 launch.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017 - 10:39am

Riding the River: Red River, which bases its federal headquarters in Reston, bought Natoma Technologies of Sacramento, Calif. The purchase gives Red River a strong California presence and new capabilities in software and applications development. Washington Technology's Nick Wakeman notes that Red River is utilizing acquisitions such as Accunet Solutions (2016) and Natoma to engage government customers with service-focused and cloud offerings.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017 - 10:39am

Improving traffic: Experero, which has U.S. headquarters in Reston, announced the acquisition of France-based Border 6, creator of Internet-routing technology to optimize traffic flow. Experero, based in Amsterdam, previously licensed Border 6 technology for its global cloud acceleration platform XCA. was among the platforms carrying the news.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017 - 10:38am

Ongoing investigation:Tysons Corner-based Booz Allen Hamilton disclosed that elements of its billing practices are the subject of a civil and criminal Justice Department investigation. "To date, our internal and external audit processes have not identified any significant deficiencies or material weaknesses, or identified any significant erroneous cost charging," the government services firm said in a statement picked up by Thomas Heath of the Washington Post

Tuesday, June 20, 2017 - 10:38am

Reston's Fertile Crescent: Brookfield Properties submitted plans to develop 36 acres near the corner of Sunrise Valley Drive and Reston Parkway. Reston Crescent, spanning 3.8 million square feet of mixed-use development, would act as a gateway to the Reston Town Center Metro station, says Karen Goff in a story for subscribers of the Washington Business Journal. Initial plans call for 2,260 residential units, 1.1 million square feet of office space, retail, commercial and an option for a 160-room hotel.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017 - 10:37am

High energy: ICF received an $18 million contract from the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative to design and produce a residential and commercial energy-efficiency portfolio. The Potomac Tech Wire carried the release.

Aussie cybersleuths move to county, harness megadata.
US geniuses attract UK firm.

FCC Moves To Streamline Emergency 'Blue Alerts' For Threats To Law Enforcement

Thursday, June 22, 2017 - 1:29pm
Former President Barack Obama signed the Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu National Blue Alert Act of 2015, surrounded by the families of two New York police officers who were killed in an ambush attack.

Created in 2015, Blue Alerts are similar to Amber Alerts, but aim to catch people who threaten or harm police officers. The DOJ asked the FCC to add a special code to the broadcast emergency system.

(Image credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

Senate Republicans Reveal Long-Awaited Affordable Care Act Repeal Bill

Thursday, June 22, 2017 - 11:25am
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, joined by other Republican senators, meets with reporters following a closed-door strategy session, at the Capitol on Tuesday.

The Senate's long-awaited "Better Care Reconciliation Act" was written largely in secret, with even many Senate Republicans unaware of what was in it.

(Image credit: J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Senators Working On Health Care Revision Ready To Release Their Plan

Thursday, June 22, 2017 - 7:43am

The legislation Senate Republicans are releasing is expected to track the House version that was passed last month. Negotiations have been going on in secret.

Red Palm Weevils Wreak Havoc On Palm Plantations Across The Globe

Thursday, June 22, 2017 - 7:00am
Dead Canary Islands date palms, killed by red palm weevils, line a road in La Mersa, Tunis, Tunisia.

Thanks to globalization and climate change, the pest has spread to 60 countries, attacking coconut, date and oil palm plantations, and costing millions of dollars in damages.

(Image credit: Courtesy of Mark Hoddle/Department of Entomology, University of California Riverside)

ExxonMobil Uses Carbon Tax Strategy To Its Advantage, Author Says

Thursday, June 22, 2017 - 5:06am

ExxonMobil and several other oil companies are backing a Republican-led plan for a carbon tax. Steve Inskeep talks to Steve Coll, author of the book Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power.

Is It Realistic? Trump Budget Relies On 3 Percent Economic Growth

Thursday, June 22, 2017 - 5:06am

President Trump's budget proposal assumes the U.S. economy will grow at 3 percent a year. Most economists call that improbable. We try to figure out what it would take to hit the magic 3 percent.

The Rise Of Wind Energy Raises Questions About Its Reliability

Thursday, June 22, 2017 - 5:00am
Jayme Orrack oversees Xcel Energy

As renewables make up a bigger share of the nation's energy grid, some worry about blackouts when the wind doesn't blow. But grid operators say they're getting better at balancing energy resources.

(Image credit: Amy Sisk/Prairie Public Broadcasting)

Republicans' Proposed Medicaid Cuts Would Hit Rural Patients Hard

Thursday, June 22, 2017 - 5:00am
Pemiscot Memorial, the public hospital in one of Missouri

Hundreds of rural hospitals are on the brink of closing. The House Republican health plan drastically reduces one of their key sources of funding and the Senate bill is expected to do the same.

(Image credit: Bram Sable-Smith/Side Effects Public Media)

How Facebook Uses Technology To Block Terrorist-Related Content

Thursday, June 22, 2017 - 4:55am
Facebook has created new tools for trying to keep terrorist content off the site.

Social media firms are under pressure to block extremist activity on their sites. Facebook is hiring thousands more people to review content, but artificial intelligence also plays a role.

(Image credit: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

What To Know About Saudi Arabia's New Crown Prince And The Issues He Will Face

Wednesday, June 21, 2017 - 6:22pm
A billboard in Taif, Saudi Arabia, shows King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud (center) flanked by his 31-year-old son, Mohammed bin Salman (right), and Prince Mohammed bin Nayef. The king appointed his son as his successor and first in line to the throne, stripping Nayef of the title of crown prince and ousting him from his powerful position of interior minister.

Mohammed bin Salman is now first in line to the throne. At 31, he has already reshaped his country's role in the region. His biggest test will come as he tries to wean the kingdom off an oil economy.

(Image credit: Amr Nabil/AP)

After CEO Resignation, Is Uber Kalanick-less Or Kalanick-free?

Wednesday, June 21, 2017 - 4:46pm
Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick, pictured here at a Vanity Fair summit in October 2016, resigned abruptly this week as the company

Few companies have had such a rapid fallout from such a vast number of crises stemming from the workplace culture perpetuated from the top, while appearing to be at the peak of its success.

(Image credit: Mike Windle/Getty Images for Vanity Fair)

Diageo Buys George Clooney's Tequila Company For Up To $1 Billion

Wednesday, June 21, 2017 - 2:21pm
Actor George Clooney — at an event for his Casamigos tequila in London in 2015 — will continue to promote and lead the brand.

The company sold its first bottles in 2013, after Clooney and a friend created a tequila to serve in their vacation homes in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

(Image credit: Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)

Intel Signs On As An Olympic Sponsor, Promising Virtual Reality And 360-Degree Video

Wednesday, June 21, 2017 - 1:07pm

Intel's CEO says it "will accelerate the adoption of technology for the future of sports on the world's largest athletic stage."

CEOs Say They'll Sell Health Insurance Next Year, But Are Flying Blind

Wednesday, June 21, 2017 - 12:52pm
Mario Schlosser, CEO of the startup Oscar Health, says he

Health insurers have to let the government know Wednesday if they'll be selling policies on the federal exchange next year. But Congress has yet to tell them what those policies will cover.

(Image credit: Noam Galai/Getty Images)

Uber Must Find A New CEO After Travis Kalanick Resigns

Wednesday, June 21, 2017 - 7:37am

Kalanick reportedly agreed to resign after a shareholder revolt and scandals involving the workplace environment. An ex-Uber engineer had blogged about how her sexual harassment case was mishandled.

Morning News Brief: Uber CEO Resigns, GOP Wins In Georgia, Russia Investigation

Wednesday, June 21, 2017 - 5:00am

Kara Swisher of Recode discusses the resignation of Uber's controversial CEO Travis Kalanick. Also, Republican Karen Handel won a special election in Georgia, dashing Democrats' hopes for an upset.