Fairfax County E-Bird newsletter for September 23, 2021: NADA building demolition, NOVA campus expansion in Springfield, Peraton-OneWeb collaboration

Demolition of the NADA headquarters building in Tysons is almost complete. (Photo by David Taube courtesy of Tysons Reporter)

Tysons transformation continues: Demolition is nearly complete of the old National Automobile Dealers Association headquarters building in Tysons. Completed in 1975, the NADA building was one of the first office towers in Tysons and foreshadowed the arrival of Fairfax County as a major business center. NADA has moved its headquarters next door on Westpark Drive. The Meridian Group is extending the mixed-use Boro development to the old NADA location — and continuing the transformation of Tysons into a more walkable, 24/7 urban destination. See a YouTube video of the demolition by clicking here.

Pairing regional workforce needs: With $40 million from the Commonwealth of Virginia, Northern Virginia Community College is investing in its health care and skilled trades programs with new campus buildings and faculty hiring aimed at pairing the region’s workforce needs with new labor. Included in the plans is construction of a second building on the medical campus in Springfield that could triple enrollment there. Also envisioned is a skilled trades center in Manassas. Health care and skilled trades are two sectors that have grown in demand with the Covid-19 pandemic, said Steven Partridge, NOVA’s vice president of strategy, research and workforce innovation, who works with a research team at the college to analyze regional job openings and workforce data. The Washington Business Journal has more on NOVA’s plans. We are delighted to note that Partridge is also a member of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority Commission.

Game-changing satellites: Under a new agreement with Herndon-based Peraton, OneWeb’s satellite communications services will be more widely available to military users in hard-to-reach areas, including ships at sea. OneWeb is based in the United Kingdom and bases its North American operations in Tysons. Low Earth orbit satellite communications “is a game-changing capability for maritime, aviation, defense and other customers operating in remote environments outside of standard network coverage areas,” said Nate White, Peraton’s vice president and general manager of communications. SpaceNews has more. OneWeb’s planned constellation of 648 satellites is almost half way complete, SpaceNews also reported. The company said it will reach global coverage in 2022.

Clouds gather: Speaking of Peraton, it acquired Herndon-based ViON’s cloud business, including its as-a-service portfolio, to expand information technology infrastructure offerings to government clients. The company said Wednesday ViON’s as-a-service IT portfolio includes more than 25 offerings such as artificial intelligence, storage, compute, networking and high-performance computing solutions for federal and state government customers, according to ExecutiveBiz. “With these additional capabilities, along with new employees who share our values and customers’ missions, we will solve the biggest challenges facing government and we’ll do it in a way that makes the best use of their resources,” said Stu Shea, president, chairman and CEO of Peraton.

Centering on geopolitical flashpoints: Reston-based SOS International opened its Center for Intelligence Research and Analysis to provide analysis, investigative support and data services to the U.S. government and Fortune 500 companies on a range of issues from cybersecurity risk and foreign military affairs to artificial intelligence, illegal technology transfer and intellectual property theft. “CIRA has pioneered methods for collecting and exploiting data from geopolitical flashpoints around the world, ranging from technical journals to Dark Web data,” said CIRA director James Mulvenon. “Our linguist-analysts provide insights that inform national security strategy and serve many of the largest U.S. multinational corporations.” WashingtonExec has more.

Force reckoning: Reston-based Octo Consulting and Herndon-based Tyto Athene will create a joint venture between the two IT providers that will operate as Octo-Athene to deliver enhanced network modernization capabilities, data conversion services and other innovative technology solutions to the U.S. federal government. Octo-Athene will serve the defense, national security, intelligence, space, health and civilian sectors with years of expertise in emerging key areas such as 5G, artificial intelligence, machine learning, data interoperability, blockchain, defensive cyber operations and network modernization. “The full spectrum modernization and transformation capabilities brought to bear by this JV make us a force to be reckoned with in the marketplace,” said Mehul Sanghani, CEO of Octo. ExecutiveGov has more.

Expanded empire: Fairfax technology consulting firm DigitalSpec was acquired by a partnership of Great Falls-based private equity fund Neural Investments and Island Empire Community Development, a minority-owned Hawaiian contractor. DigitalSpec CEO Charles Dadoo and co-founder and chief growth officer Vishal Dadoo will remain in their respective positions as a wholly owned subsidiary of Island Empire. The acquisition brings together two minority-owned Small Business Administration 8(a)-certified contractors grounded in digital transformation and information technology consulting, reports the Washington Business Journal.

Imagery investment: Herndon-based HySpecIQ, a satellite-powered imaging company focused on the federal government, closed a Series B round of funding from investor and entrepreneur Peter Thiel. Bloomberg reported the amount was more than $20 million. Thiel is a co-founder of PayPal, Palantir and Founders Fund, and one of the first backers of Facebook. HySpecIQ said the investment will speed up the development of a 12-satellite constellation to provide extremely high resolution pictures, called hyperspectral imagery, initially to intelligence and government clients, and then to other industry segments. “HySpecIQ’s superior satellite sensor technology meets the urgent need of government to provide security,” said Thiel. “Starting from that key market, HySpecIQ has the potential to provide great value across industries.”

Past the goal: Tysons-based Aldrich Capital Partners closed its second fund at $450 million, three years after its first raise and as venture fundraising clearly remains strong in the region. The local growth equity investment firm, which last raised $256 million in 2018, targets tech companies that are still run by their founders. With the new capital, Aldrich plans to continue backing software companies in health care and financial services, among other industries, per a LinkedIn post. The close of Aldrich Capital Partners Fund II at its hard cap, as first reported by the Wall Street Journal, puts the firm well past its $350 million goal, the Washington Business Journal reported.

Another stride: PublicRelay, a Tysons-based company providing media insights and analytics to businesses, announced that it received a strategic growth investment from Austin, Texas-based Tritium Partners. “PublicRelay is on a mission to give communications executives the data and insights they need to drive their teams forward more efficiently and effectively, to measure and prove their impact, and to tie their efforts to the company’s goals,” said Eric Koefoot, founder and CEO of PublicRelay. Potomac Tech Wire carried the release.

Growth, American-style: Capgemini, the Paris-based IT firm with its U.S. headquarters in Tysons, intends to acquire Rockville, Md.-based VariQ, an IT and cybersecurity firm. The deal must first be approved by the Committee of Foreign Investment in the United States and Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency. Capgemini said VariQ will become part of its Capgemini Government Solutions, an independent operating division that focuses on the federal government. “This acquisition marks an important moment for Capgemini Government Solutions and our vision for growth in the Americas,” said Jim Bailey, CEO of Capgemini’s Americas Strategic Business Unit. Potomac Tech Wire picked up the release.

Expanded criteria: Criterion Systems, a Tysons-based cybersecurity and IT services company, acquired Reston-based government contractor Protas Solutions, a provider of analytics, software and management services to intelligence agencies. Steve Mast, the co-founder and CFO of Criterion, will serve as the president of Protas, now operating as a subsidiary of Criterion. “Protas is the second acquisition we have made in the past year to support the growth of our Intelligence Solutions business unit,” said Promod Sharma, president and CEO of Criterion. “They join Realm Consulting, enabling us to deliver a broad range of innovative IT solutions to the Intelligence Community.” Potomac Tech Wire carried the release.

Here’s the skin-ny from Parsons: Centreville-based Parsons teamed up with Forney, Texas-based Intelligent Surveillance Corp. to develop and market imaging sensors in the government sector. The partnership is working on two products that will feature the Intellisight hemoglobin filter technology Parsons designed to recognize human skin and allow surveillance systems to identify certain activities of people, according to ExecutiveBiz. Mike Dewitz, executive vice president of Parsons’ defense sector, said the two companies seek to protect the lives of warfighters and first responders with sensors that use human skin-detection technology.

Taking a new aim: Hotel management company LodgeWorks Partners plans to renovate and convert the existing Hyatt House property in Merrifield into an Archer Hotel, adding an eighth location to its proprietary, boutique brand. Located at 8296 Glass Alley, the seven-story, 148-room Merrifield Hyatt House has been at the Mosaic District since the mixed-use development opened, according to Tysons Reporter.

Bird-eye view: The Watermark Hotel opened at the Capital One Center Tuesday, and The Wren, a Japanese-American bar and small plates restaurant, will open Friday, Tysons Reporter says. The Wren is located on the 11th floor by the hotel’s lobby, overlooking The Perch, the recreational space featuring a park, brewery and other amenities that opened in late August. The park is located above Capital One Hall, a new performance venue opening Oct. 1.

Notable contract wins by firms in Fairfax County

MITRE secured a $474 million contract to continue operating the Air Force-funded National Security Engineering Center, which conducts research in cybersecurity and other technical areas. GovConWire

Northrop Grumman won a four-year, $82.6 million contract to support the Army Planning Programming Budgeting Business Operating System. ExecutiveBiz

Geospark Analytics received a five-year contract from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency for access to Hyperion, an artificial intelligence-driven open-source global threat intelligence platform and application programming interface. ExecutiveBiz

Featured business events

September 30 –Workforce Development & Reskilling: Releasing the Energy of America’s Workers. The Northern Virginia Economic Development Alliance, of which the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority is a member, presents the next webinar in its Catalyst for Change series featuring panelists Nigel Paine, author and change leader, London, UK; Patrick Small, CEcD, executive director, Department of Economic Development, City of Manassas; and Amber Clayton, director, The Knowledge Center, Society for Human Resource Management. The webinar will focus on workforce development and reskilling programs to meet the talent needs of employers. Click here to register.

October 5-6 — Uniting Women in Cyber 2021. The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority is sponsoring a Cyber Guild hosted event that will unite Fortune 1000 companies, small business technology and security leaders, and government organizations on emerging concepts, innovations, and thought leadership in the changing landscape of cyber.  Click here to register.

October 14 — Power of Innovation: The Digital Infrastructure Evolution in Fairfax County. Presented by the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, this event explores how our strong digital infrastructure is powering innovation in Fairfax County and Northern Virginia. Take a deep dive with us and hear from industry experts on how the region has created one of the strongest digital infrastructure networks in the world that benefits Fortune 500 companies to small businesses and is one reason why Fairfax County is home to 8,700 technology companies. Click here to register.

November 4 — Veteran & Military Family Career Day. Sponsored by the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, Fort Belvoir, the Northern Virginia Technology Council, Fairfax County Department of Economic Initiatives and the Northern Virginia Regional Commission, this event will be held at the National Museum of the U.S. Army at Fort Belvoir. Save the date! Registration information to come. If your company is interested in participating please click here.

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.