July 13, 2023: Virginia Rises on Top States for Business Rankings + Weekly Business News Digest

Ranked America’s top state for education, Virginia placed No. 2 overall in CNBC’s Top States for Business ranking released Tuesday, inching up one spot toward the top, Washington Business Journal reported in subscriber content.

“Fairfax County embodies what makes Virginia a Top State for Business,” said Victor Hoskins, president and CEO of Fairfax County Economic Development Authority. “Our world-class k-12 education system and 60+ regional colleges and universities support a highly diverse talent pipeline serving startups to Fortune 500s. And with a record $1 billion in capital investment in 2022, companies not only succeed here but are well positioned for exceptional growth.”

Virginia held the No. 1 ranking in 2021, 2019, 2011, 2009 and 2007 — the first year the ranking was released. CNBC said its study measures all 50 states on 86 metrics to tabulate 10 categories of competitiveness. The heaviest-weighted categories are workforce, infrastructure, economy and life, and health and inclusion.

Click here to learn more from Virginia Economic Development Partnership about why Virginia is a top state for business.

2023 Quantum World Congress Registration Now Open!

QWC 2023

What: This highly anticipated conference, exposition, and networking extravaganza will unite visionaries and experts from all corners of the quantum ecosystem and the world. Together, we will tackle urgent challenges, delve into emerging trends, and exchange valuable insights that will propel the acceleration and commercialization of quantum technologies.

When: September 26 – 28, 2023
Where: Capital One Hall, 7750 Capital One Tower Rd., Tysons, VA 22101

REGISTER NOW to lock in your early bird discount before August 7, 2023.

Weekly Business News Digest

Greatest workplaces: Nineteen Fairfax County headquartered in companies were recently named to the America’s Greatest Workplaces 2023 rankings released by Newsweek and its data partner, Plant-A Insights Group. Newsweek used a 5-star rating system to rank companies. The rating is based on a national survey on benefits, workplace environment, career development, empowerment of women, promotion of veterans, development of entry-level employees and support for LGBTQ+ employees. Companies headquartered in Fairfax County that made the ranking are: 3Pillar (Fairfax); Amentum (Chantilly); Bechtel (Reston); Booz Allen Hamilton (Tysons); CACI (Reston); Capital One (Tysons); General Dynamics (Reston); Hilton Worldwide (Tysons); ICF (Reston); Inova (Fairfax); IT Coalition (Fairfax); Koons (Tysons); Leidos (Reston); Mars (McLean); Maximus (Tysons); MicroStrategy (Tysons); Northrop Grumman (Falls Church area); P&R Enterprises (Falls Church area); UIC Government Services  (Springfield). Patch.com has more on these companies, as well as the additional companies from Virginia that rank on the list.

Microgravity laboratory in space: Falls Church area-based Northrop Grumman’s 19th’ commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station for NASA will carry experiments for studies of fire suppression, gene therapy, atmospheric monitoring, and other experiments, along with space-flown student artwork, NASA.gov reported. Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus cargo spacecraft is scheduled to launch in August from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Click here to read and see a video about some of the research making the journey to the microgravity laboratory in space.

Pilot training: Reston-based Leidos was selected by the U.S. Army to train pilots who will be part of the High Accuracy Detection, Exploitation System (HADES) program, ExecutiveBiz reported. Under the terms of the agreement, Leidos will bring in instructors certified by the Federal Aviation Administration to teach Army aviators to fly Bombardier Global 6000-class business jets. HADES was introduced by the service branch in April as an integrated intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance program to boost sensing capabilities in long-range precision fires during large-scale combat missions.

Next steps in innovation: Herndon-based HawkEye 360, a commercial operator of remote-sensing satellites, announced July 13 it has raised $58 million in new funding, SpaceNews reported. The Series D-1 round was led by funds and accounts managed by BlackRock with additional funding provided by Manhattan Venture Partners and existing investors including Insight Partners, NightDragon, Strategic Development Fund, Razor’s Edge, Alumni Ventures and Adage Capital. “The funding will be used to develop new space systems and expand analytics that support high-value defense missions,” HawkEye 360 CEO John Serafini said. “We’ll use this funding to drive our next steps in innovation,” Serafini said. “It speaks volumes that these leading investment firms are confident in the future of RF geospatial intelligence as a critical defense technology.”

More HawkEye news: Herndon-based HawkEye 360, a commercial operator of remote-sensing satellites, was selected by the government of Australia to help detect illegal fishing activity using radio-frequency (RF) sensors, SpaceNews reported. The company received a contract from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for a pilot program in support of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency. Under the contract, HawkEye 360 will provide satellite RF maritime analytics and training through 2023, said Alex Fox, chief growth officer of HawkEye 360. “The Pacific Islands encompass a vast and highly trafficked region with rich fisheries resources that present complex challenges for maritime domain awareness,” Fox said.

And more illegal fishing enforcement: Tysons-based Spire Global, a global provider of space-based data, analytics and space services, was selected by U.K.-based OceanMind, a leader in marine enforcement and compliance, to extend its agreement in providing real-time automatic identification system (AIS) vessel-tracking data. Spire has been providing AIS data to OceanMind since 2019. “Spire’s comprehensive AIS data suite serves as a keystone underpinning OceanMind’s mission to combat IUU fishing worldwide,” said Nick Wise, OceanMind CEO, reported Yahoo Finance. “The breadth and depth of capabilities offered by Spire’s solution empower us to effectively notify fisheries authorities about non-compliance within their waters and help direct enforcement efforts to stop tainted catch from entering the supply chain. To date, we have verified over $600 million worth of tuna imports entering the global market.”

Win-Win collaboration: The Department of Defense Cyber Crime Center partnered with Fairfax-based George Mason University to help address challenges in the full-scale launch of its Vulnerability Disclosure Program, reported ExecutiveGov. The collaboration was made possible through the National Security Innovation Network Capstone program, which is comprised of entrepreneurs and student technologists with innovations that are potentially beneficial to the DOD, the defense agency said. “The Capstone project is a win-win for federal agencies and university students alike. Students gain valuable insight by working with professional organizations on real-world problem sets, and organizations like VDP are able to leverage motivated minds primed by the academic environment to take on the rigorous research necessary to answer challenging questions,” said VDP Director Melissa Vice.

National AI strategy recommendations: Tysons-based MITRE responded to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy’s (OSTP) request for information (RFI) saying a comprehensive national strategy on artificial intelligence should focus on both risks and opportunities and establish holistic goals and expectations, according to ExeecutiveGov. The National AI Strategy could help foster AI accountability and assurance and advance the adoption of AI to determine and address inequities, according to the response. MITRE highlighted the importance of sharing ideas and workload in advancing AI innovation and ensuring the country’s competitiveness and security. The organization noted that collaboration could be in the form of public-private partnerships, as well as cross-domain and interagency cooperation. OSTP issued the RFI in May to seek input from individuals and organizations to help inform the development of the National AI Strategy.

Combining strengths and processes: Tysons-based Aeyon and San Diego-based NavAide have formed Nyon Tech, a joint venture with the goal of helping the Department of Defense and other federal agencies modernize financial, supply chain and workforce management processes through cutting-edge technology, according to GovConWire. Nyon Tech aims to advance the implementation of intelligent automation, artificial intelligence, advanced strategies and processes to improve enterprise resource planning and related systems and support clients’ financial stewardship and system modernization efforts. “We are thrilled to combine our strengths and resources to create a powerful force in the intelligent automation and data analytics industry,” said Aeyon CEO Sunny Singh. “Together, we will drive innovation, deliver exceptional solutions and shape the future of DoD.”

Pinnacle obtained: Herndon-based Akima announced that it has completed the acquisition of Huntsville, Alabama-based Pinnacle Solutions, a leading provider of innovative training and sustainment products and services to defense customers around the globe, citybiz reported. “We are thrilled to add Pinnacle’s innovative technology solutions and capabilities to the Akima family,” said Bill Monet, President and CEO of Akima. “Pinnacle’s talented people and commitment to their customer’s mission complements Akima’s value-driven culture. Pinnacle will significantly enhance our ability to serve our aerospace customers.”

Historic moment: Northern Virginia’s Burke & Herbert Bank President and CEO David P. Boyle rang Nasdaq’s Opening Bell on the morning of July 6 in New York City. Boyle was invited to commemorate its parent company, Burke & Herbert Services Financial Corp., being listed on the Nasdaq Capital Market. “Participating in the bell ringing at Nasdaq was a truly special moment. Being together with Hunt Burke, members of the Board, and our senior leadership team yesterday signified a historic moment in the evolution of this historic bank,” Boyle told the Zebra. “We’re excited for our future and the enhanced value for our shareholders and customers.”

All roads lead to Rome: Tysons-based Urgent.ly is planning to go public, but not via a traditional initial public offering, according to Washington Business Journal. Instead, the connected roadside assistance company plans to merge with Otonomo Technologies, an already public Israeli company whose platform makes it easier for companies to analyze and use data from connected vehicles. The transaction, known as a reverse merger, is an all-stock deal that is expected to close this quarter after being announced in February.

Food connection: McLean-based Mars agreed to buy Stockton, Calif.-based Kevin’s Natural Foods, produces sous-vide meals, sauces, and side dishes. The deal values private equity-backed Kevin’s at nearly $800 million, according to people familiar with the matter, according to Reuters.  Mars, which generates about $48 billion in annual sales, has three major businesses – Mars Petcare, Mars Snacking, and Mars Food & Nutrition. After the deal is completed, Kevin’s will operate as a standalone brand under the food and nutrition unit. Mars plans to grow its food business through more potential acquisitions in the near term, said Shaid Shah, global president at Mars Food & Nutrition. “We are trying to deliver on a mission we have to enable healthier and more flavorful diets for consumers worldwide, while Kevin’s is trying to empower the busiest people to eat clean without sacrificing flavors,” Shah said.

Sharing the Love: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania now has a permanent reminder that Virginia is for Lovers, and it is courtesy of Fairfax County. The county’s tourism marketing organization, Visit Fairfax has gifted a LOVE sculpture that is now installed at Fashion District Philadelphia, the large shopping center in downtown Philadelphia at 9th and Market Street. While there are more than 300 LOVEwork sculptures throughout Virginia, this is the first one that has ever been permanently gifted outside of Virginia. It marks the start of a summer marketing campaign for Fairfax County, promoting the county as an easy and accessible travel destination for Philadelphia-area residents. Visit Fairfax said research has shown Philadelphia is consistently a major contributor to the county’s tourism, accounting for a large percentage of visitors, visitor spending and traffic to the county’s tourism website.  WTOP has more.

Let’s go to the Lego Center! A new Lego Discovery Center is slated to officially open at Springfield Town Center in August, Northern Virginia magazine reported. The ribbon for the 32,000-square-foot indoor playground dedicated to Legos will be cut August 9, and it will be open to the general public until August 14. Merline Entertainment broke ground last December. The Fairfax County location is the 29th of its kind around the world.

Contract Wins

Booz Allen Hamilton (Tysons) will help the Internal Revenue Service update information technology systems through the company’s position on the seven-year, $2.6 billion IRS Enterprise Development, Operations Services blanket purchase agreement. ExecutiveBiz

General Dynamics Information Technology  (Falls Church area) received two contracts worth $580 million for software development and cybersecurity services. GovConWire

Parsons (Centreville) will provide the Defense Threat Reduction Agency with vulnerability assessment and other support services under a potential five-year, $170 million contract. GovConWire

Northrop Grumman (Falls Church area) will boost risk reduction efforts and increase materials provided for the first phase of the U.S. Space Force’s Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared program under a $42.8 million contract modification. ExecutiveBiz

Science Applications International Corp. (Reston) will engineer software for the U.S. Air Force’s B-52H Stratofortress bomber platform under a sole-source award valued at $19 million over five years. GovConWire

Aeyon (Tysons) secured a two-year, $15 million contract from the U.S. Navy to provide operational data cleansing support to the Commander, Navy Installations Command/ Naval Facilities Engineering Command. ExecutiveBiz

FCEDA Hosted and Sponsored Events

Summer 2023 – Interstellar Dreams Space Camp at George Mason University. Interstellar Dreams is a new take on a summer space camp, designed for rising 6th graders through rising 9th graders that blends “hands-on” fun and “minds-on” tech with their imagination to launch the future of space exploration. Campers will Explore space, Imagine the future, and Design the possibilities of ethical space exploration.  The Interstellar Dreams Space Center at George Mason University is a partnership between the Pearl Project Institute and George Mason University Observatories. Click here for more information and to register.

July 20 — GovFuture Forum. Attend GovFuture Forum, a monthly demo and panel event where government innovators, technologists, thought leaders, movers-and-shakers, government ecosystem partners, and interested people see showcases on cool new technology in a demo format, learn from innovators in high-value panels, and interact with each other. Click here to see the agenda, featured speakers and to register.

August 17 — GovFuture Forum. Attend GovFuture Forum, a monthly demo and panel event where government innovators, technologists, thought leaders, movers-and-shakers, government ecosystem partners, and interested people see showcases on cool new technology in a demo format, learn from innovators in high-value panels, and interact with each other. Click here to see the agenda, featured speakers and to register.

September 12 — Entrepreneurship 101: Starting a Business in Fairfax County. The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority hosts Entrepreneurship 101, or “E-101,” a bi-monthly workshop that features a panel of small business experts on how to start a business. Presented by the FCEDA, in partnership with the Virginia Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity (SBSD), the Community Business Partnership (CBP) and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the workshop provides an overview of business start-up fundamentals. Save the date! Registration opens soon. Click here to find out more.

September 21 — GovFuture Forum. Attend GovFuture Forum, a monthly demo and panel event where government innovators, technologists, thought leaders, movers-and-shakers, government ecosystem partners, and interested people see showcases on cool new technology in a demo format, learn from innovators in high-value panels, and interact with each other. Click here to see the agenda, featured speakers and to register.

September 26-28, 2023 – Call for Experts: Connecting the Global Quantum Ecosystem. Quantum World Congress 2023 will occur September 26-28 in the Greater Washington region. It will once again bring together leaders from across the quantum ecosystem around the globe to address pressing challenges and emerging trends and share insights that help to accelerate and commercialize quantum technologies. Programming will take many forms — from presentations and panels to fireside chats and networking sessions. QWC will enable relevant, timely, and industry-leading information sharing and relationship building across these formats to foster a responsible environment for quantum growth. If your expertise and experience position you as a thought leader, then you are invited to complete the speaker application. Please also review the sponsorship packages to explore ways to showcase your brand at the event. Click here for more information.

FCEDA is Here to Help Your Business Thrive

Fairfax County EDA is here to connect businesses of all kinds to resources and 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.