Fairfax County E-Bird newsletter for Dec. 22, 2020

OneWeb, which has its North American headquarters in Tysons, launched 36 satellites into orbit aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket. Lift-off occurred on Friday, Dec. 18 at 7:26 a.m. ET. (photo courtesy of OneWeb)

Blasting off into a new era: UK-based satellite communications company OneWeb, which has its North American headquarters in Tysons, launched 36 satellites into orbit on Friday aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket, which OneWeb purchased from the France-headquartered aerospace firm Arianespace. The new OneWeb satellites, built by a joint venture between OneWeb and Airbus, joined 74 spacecraft launched on three previous Soyuz rocket missions. OneWeb’s broadband relay network is designed to beam high-speed internet signals around the world. The company, which says its constellation will require 650 satellites, plans to debut its service by the end of 2021 and will focus on delivering services to businesses rather than directly to consumers. “It’s a fantastic moment for us to be back,” said Maurizio Vanotti, senior director of space infrastructure development at OneWeb. Spaceflight Now covered the launch.

Moving forward: Despite the coronavirus pandemic, developers in Tysons have moved forward with their plans for massive mixed-use projects. The Fairfax County government has ambitious goals to transform Tysons into a more walkable, sustainable urban center that will be able to meet the needs of 100,000 residents and 200,000 employees by the year 2050 — a major undertaking considering that the current population of Tysons is around 23,700. “Even during the pandemic, Tysons has been dotted with cranes for commercial and residential developments,” said Victor Hoskins, president and CEO of the FCEDA. “This is a concrete testament to the value that developers, businesses and people see in locating in a quickly urbanizing center, and it validates the vision of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to transform this collection of suburban office parks and malls into a walkable, transit-oriented 21st-century city,” reported Bisnow.

Front runner: Microsoft is poised to close the year as the largest consumer of leased office space in the region, topping even Amazon in new leasing activity. Ranked by square footage, the Redmond, Wash. technology company’s lease for nearly 400,000 square feet at Reston Town Center was the largest office lease to be inked in the D.C. area so far this year. That’s according to research from CBRE, which broke down the 20 largest leasing deals of 2020. Those deals collectively combined for more than 4.4 million square feet, which also included the nearly 186,000 square feet expansion space that Microsoft took near its planned tech hub. Find out the additional leases that landed in the top 20 this year in the Washington Business Journal.

Footprint expansion: Epirus, a venture-backed startup offering a counter-drone capability, is moving its headquarters from Hawthorne, Calif. to its newer offices in Tysons. Last week the 2-year-old company announced that it raised $70 million in a new round to speed its technology to market, bringing its total capital raised to roughly $80 million. This news comes six months after Epirus inked a strategic supplier agreement with Northrop Grumman to provide exclusive access to Epirus’ software-defined electromagnetic pulse system Leonidas. Since then, the firm has doubled in size and plans to add 100 jobs in 2021. “We’re aggressively hiring and expanding our footprint on the East and West coasts,” Epirus CEO Leigh Madden told Defense News.

Catching a wave: Falls Church area-based Northrop Grumman is set to begin collaborating and investing in Philadelphia, PA-based Deepwave Digital, to support research, development and integration of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. The partnership will improve communications processing power for key, next-generation capabilities for customers. “We’re evolving the way we think and the way we work, to use emerging commercial technologies to provide our warfighters the most advanced capabilities more quickly,” said Chris Daughters, vice president of research, technology and engineering, Aeronautics Systems, Northrop Grumman, according to Intelligence Community News.

Let the games begin: Falls Church-area based PAE will provide COVID-19 testing services for winter and spring sports for all 14 universities of the Southeastern Conference. “PAE is providing its expeditionary skillset to entities across the country for COVID-19 response efforts, including these testing services that have been vital to supporting SEC teams, coaches and staff throughout the fall season,” said John Heller, president and CEO of PAE. ExecutiveGov kicked off the story.

Detecting shooters: Tysons-based Alarm.com acquired Rowley, Mass.-based Shooter Detection Systems (SDS), a provider of indoor gunshot detection technology. Founded in 2013, SDS developed the Guardian Indoor Active Shooter Detection System, a unique combination of acoustic and infrared sensors and proprietary algorithms that accurately detects gunshots and communicates shooting incident details rapidly to building occupants and security teams. With the acquisition, SDS will be a subsidiary of Alarm.com. The companies will work together to further advance SDS’s engineering and development of gunshot detection solutions as well as integration with the Alarm.com ecosystem, reported citybizlist.

Rescuing mariners: Tysons-based Iridium launched a maritime safety alert system that helps rescue mariners in emergency situations while at sea. The service, Iridium Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS), commenced operation on Dec. 11, marking the culmination of years of work for Iridium. Iridium will now directly compete with London-headquartered Inmarsat as one of only two companies authorized to provide GMDSS services, according to Via Satellite.

Satellite support: Herndon-based HawkEye 360 will use its satellite constellation to provide the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, headquartered in Springfield, with radio frequency (RF) data and analytics for analysis in support of a pilot program centered on the use of commercial RF GEOINT. John Serafini, HawkEye 360 CEO, said end-users may use RF signal data and analytics to address mission needs through the program. “Commercial RF GEOINT complements traditional government systems by offering analysts a readily accessible layer of RF knowledge,” Serafini stated, reported ExecutiveBiz.

Gaining sight: Tysons headquartered SightGain won the DataTribe Challenge last week, lining up the company for up to $2 million in seed funding. Fulton, Md.-based DataTribe’s challenge, now in its third year, brought together a trio of startups virtually who were picked from 400 nationwide applicants. SightGain is working with agencies in the U.S. military, and is now looking to grow in the commercial market. The company “is looking forward to partnering with DataTribe’s industry experts and focusing on nation-state technologies that solve massive commercial pain points today,” SightGain’s CEO and founder Christian Sorensen said, according to Technical.ly DC.

Taking a new slope: Reston-based information technology company Intelligent Waves acquired Crownsville, Md.-based cybersecurity firm Ski Systems. Intelligent Waves is a service-disabled veteran-owned small business that provides systems engineering, cloud computing and managed services, cyber and security architecture, mobility and operations and intelligence analytics. Ski Systems has worked with the Department of Defense and Intelligence Community on network security, according to Virginia Business.

Puttin’ on the Ritz: Bethesda, Md.-headquartered hotel chain Marriott International will offer on-site COVID-19 tests to try to bring back in-person conferences and business meetings. Safety procedures have been already rolled out for its guests during the coronavirus, including mandatory face masks and decreased meeting seating capacities. However, the hospitality giant’s newly announced suite of health protocols target a specific travel segment: meeting professionals for conferences and gatherings. In November, Marriott International, which includes the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company among its subsidiaries, hosted its first hybrid event with 30 in-person and 238 virtual participants, as well as new safety measures, at the Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner, reported Business Insider.

One step closer: The Town of Herndon officially closed on its transfer of 4.7 acres of town-owned land to Reston-headquartered Comstock Holding Companies, a move that sets the redevelopment of downtown Herndon into motion. Once completed, the new mixed-use development, which is next to Herndon’s Old Town Hall, will include 273 residential apartments, 17,300 square feet of retail and cafe space, a new arts center, three public plazas, and a 726-space parking garage. “We are excited to have completed this important part of the process and look forward to redeveloping this key piece of downtown Herndon into a vibrant mixed-use development,” said Christopher Clemente, CEO of Comstock, Reston Now reported.

Recognition opportunities: Nominations are sought by the Washington Business Journal to recognize companies in 2021 Diversity in Business  (deadline: Dec. 23); and Best Places to Work (deadline: Jan. 15); as well as projects for the Best Real Estate Deals of 2020 (deadline: Jan. 29). Click out the links for submission details.

Notable contract wins by firms in Fairfax County

General Dynamics won a $4.62 billion contract from the Army for its Land Systems business unit to produce M1A2 Abrams main battle tanks with modernized configuration. GovConWire

Northrop Grumman obtained a $70 million contract from NASA to provide engineering, manufacturing and technical services for the agency’s Global Hawk Skyrange program, which equips high-altitude, long-endurance aircraft with sensors for data collection in long-range flight test activities. Virginia Business

Leidos won a $64 million contract from the Federal Aviation Administration to an air traffic safety analysis tool. Virginia Business

Alion Science and Technology secured a 5-year, $41 million contract to help the Army study and develop new technologies that would facilitate airdropped deliveries to soldiers. ExecutiveBiz

ECS received a five-year, $28.8 million contract from the Marine Corps Department of Manpower and Reserve Affairs to provide information technology service and support for human resources initiatives. Intelligence Community News

Parsons Corporation won a $20 million contract from the Air Force Research Laboratory to support operationally focused research and development activities for the Air Force, Department of Defense, and Intelligence Community. Intelligence Community News

Featured business events

January 12 — Entrepreneurship 101: Starting a Business in Fairfax County. The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, in partnership with the Virginia Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity (SBSD), the Community Business Partnership (CBP) and the Small Business Administration (SBA), conducts a free webinar for those persons that are interested in starting a business in Fairfax County. Click here for information.

January 13 — Insight Region Briefing: Unequal Burden, low-Income Northern Virginians face the country’s most severe housing cost burden. The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia presents a webinar that will examine economic opportunity throughout Northern Virginia. Click here to register.

January 23 – February 18 — Smart City Challenge. Smart City Works, Refraction, Fairfax County, Girls in Tech DC, The Universities at Shady Grove, and Virginia Tech will host the first annual Smart City Challenge. The Smart City Challenge is an innovation competition, in which teams create high-impact solutions to address the toughest smart city challenges in sectors including housing, transportation, health, broadband, energy, education, water, infrastructure, and public safety. Click here to register.

January 28 — Cyber+Cloud Virtual Career Fair. The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority presents this virtual hiring event with 20+ companies for professionals in the IT, cyber and cloud industries. It is open to all experience levels. Job-seekers with security clearances are encouraged to attend. Click here for more information and to register.

How the Fairfax County EDA can help

The FCEDA is here to connect businesses of all kinds to resources and information. Visit the FCEDA’s Covid-19 Business Resource Hub for up-to-date information. For direct assistance, email the FCEDA at info@fceda.org, or call 703-790-0600 to leave a voice message for our staff. And click here for resources available in the other nine jurisdictions that make up the Northern Virginia Economic Development Alliance.

Virginia sets up new statewide measures to contain COVID-19

The following measures took effect on December 14 in Virginia to contain the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19:

  • Modified Stay at Home Order: All individuals in Virginia must remain at their place of residence between the hours of 12:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. Exceptions include obtaining food and goods, traveling to and from work, and seeking medical attention.
  • Universal mask requirement: All Virginians aged five and over are required to wear face coverings in indoor settings shared with others and when outdoors within six feet of another person. This order expands the current statewide mask mandate, which has been in place since May 29, and requires all individuals aged five and over to wear face coverings in indoor and outdoor public settings outside of their own household. These changes are consistent with new CDC guidelines, released December 4, which recommend universal wearing of face coverings.
  • Reduction in social gatherings: All social gatherings must be limited to 10 individuals, down from the current cap of 25 people. Social gatherings include, but are not limited to, parties, celebrations, or other social events, regardless of whether they occur indoors or outdoors. This does not apply to religious services, employment settings, or educational settings. Restaurants and retail stores are already governed by strict social distancing requirements, and are not included in this limit.
  • Continued limits on dining establishments: Virginia restaurants are currently governed by strict social distancing and sanitization requirements, which remain in place. The on-site sale, consumption, and possession of alcohol remains prohibited after 10:00 p.m. in any restaurant, dining establishment, food court, brewery, microbrewery, distillery, winery, or tasting room. All restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, and tasting rooms must close by midnight.
  • Teleworking: Employees that can telework are strongly encouraged to do so.

Find out more by clicking here.