March 17, 2023, E-News: NearStar Fusion Accelerates Global Energy Innovation in Fairfax County + Weekly Business News Digest

NearStar Fusion Accelerates Global Energy Innovation in Fairfax County

State and local officials gathered on Wednesday, March 15, 2023, to celebrate a ribbon-cutting at Fairfax County-based NearStar Fusion, a fusion energy development company. Founded in 2021, NearStar Fusion’s team of physicists and engineers is developing an innovative, pulsed approach to fusion energy with the goal of powering the globe with clean, compact resilient energy.  

The Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation (VIPC), the nonprofit operations arm of the Virginia Innovation Partnership Authority (VIPA), announced at the event that NearStar Fusion had been awarded a $75,000 Commonwealth Commercialization Fund (CCF) grant. This grant will help fund the design, computationally model, build, and experimentally demonstrate the operation of a plasma side injector, a critical enabling component of NearStar Fusion’s technology.

“We are thrilled to receive a CCF grant from VIPC,” said Dr. Doug Witherspoon, Founder, President and Chief Scientist of NearStar Fusion. “Fusion energy has promise to provide virtually unlimited clean electric power, but with technical challenges ahead. Overcoming them will change the world. We are excited to receive this funding to allow NearStar to take the first step in proving our fusion design.”

Based in Chantilly, NearStar Fusion is developing a new pulsed approach to fusion energy that builds on successful methods of imploding metallic liners to create fusion and help power the globe with a clean and limitless source of energy. NearStar’s objective is to simplify fusion technology, using mostly off-the-shelf equipment and materials to expedite the development path to practical fusion energy. An additional application of NearStar Fusion’s research includes interplanetary spacecraft propulsion.

As one of an estimated 33 fusion research companies in the free world, as of 2022, NearStar Fusion is one of the plethora of emerging tech and innovation research companies in many industry sectors that call Fairfax County home. Worldwide, the fusion industry is exhibiting huge growth, according to the Fusion Industry Association, reported Forbes.

Click here to read more.

Women who run two Fairfax County-based corporations were named on the Forbes annual list of “100 Most Powerful Women”: Phebe Novakovic, CEO, General Dynamics (Reston), which ranked 30th on the list; and Kathy Warden, Chairman, President & CEO, Northrop Grumman (Falls Church area), which placed at no. 38. Two additional CEOs of companies headquartered elsewhere but with offices in Fairfax County also placed on the list: Julie Sweet, Chair and CEO of Ireland-headquartered Accenture, which has an office in Reston, ranked at no. 9 on the list; and Safra Catz, CEO of Texas-based Oracle, which also has an office in Reston, placed on the list at number 19.

Click here to see the list.

Weekly Business News Digest

A very big deal: Tysons-based meetings and events software company Cvent agreed to be acquired by New York-based private equity firm Blackstone in a deal valued at about $4.6 billion, the company announced Tuesday, Virginia Business reported. Founded in 1999 by CEO Reggie Aggarwal, Cvent has about 4,900 employees and approximately 22,000 customers. Cvent has helped manage more than 5 million events and lists more than 302,000 hotels and venues via its Cvent Supplier Network, an online platform with tools to search, negotiate and contract with hotels and venues for event space. “We are excited to share this announcement and look forward to our next chapter alongside the Blackstone team,” Aggarwal said in a statement. “As one of the world’s largest private equity firms, Blackstone brings deep expertise in the event and hospitality industry, and with their backing, we plan to continue to invest in our business and deliver the innovative solutions that meet our customers’ needs and power the meetings and events ecosystem.”

Enter Sandman: Legendary heavy metal band Metallica has acquired a majority interest in Fairfax County-based vinyl records maker Furnace Record Pressing, Virginia Business reported. Founded in 1996, Furnace produces records in a 70,000-square-foot facility in the Fairfax County area of Alexandria, making it one of the largest record-pressing companies in the U.S. Last year, the records maker pressed 3.1 million records. Furnace has 107 employees, all of whom will remain in their current roles. Furnace has produced more than five million Metallica vinyl pieces since 2014. “We couldn’t be more happy to take our partnership with Furnace … to the next level,” Metallica co-founder and drummer Lars Ulrich said in a statement. “Their indie spirit, the passion they have for their craft … culturally, we’re kindred souls.” Variety and Billboard have more on this story. Interested in finding out more about Furnace Records? Click here to see a FCEDA interview with Mark Reiter, director of manufacturing operations at Furnace Record Pressing.

Name dropping: Twenty-four leaders of Fairfax County-based companies were named among the “Top 35 Execs to Watch 2023” by WashingtonExec. “For the eighth year in a row, WashingtonExec has assembled its list of executives in industry and government changing the status quo,” according to the publication. Here are 24 execs:

  • John Heller, CEO, Amentum (Chantilly)
  • Kevin Kelly, Chairman and CEO, Arcfield (Chantilly)
  • Jennifer Felix, President & CEO, ASRC Federal (Reston)
  • Kristine Martin Anderson, Chief Operating Officer, Booz Allen Hamilton (Tysons)
  • Stephanie Mango, President, CGI Federal (Fairfax)
  • Jeff Bohling, President and CEO, Empower AI (Reston)
  • Jylinda Johnson; Sector Vice President & General Manager, Government Operations, Commerce and Global Citizen Service, GDIT (Falls Church area)
  • John Serafini, CEO, HawkEye 360 (Herndon)
  • Andy Green, Executive Vice President & President of Mission Technologies Division, HII (Tysons)
  • John Wasson; Chair and CEO, ICF (Reston)
  • Gerry Fasano, President of the Defense Group, Leidos (Reston)
  • Doug Wagoner, President & CEO, LMI (Tysons)
  • Matt Tait, CEO & President, ManTech (Herndon)
  • Tony Frazier, Executive VP & General Manager, Public Sector Earth Intelligence, Maxar (Herndon)
  • Bruce Caswell, President & CEO, Maximus (Reston)
  • Rick Wagner, President, Microsoft Federal (Reston)
  • Mile Corrigan, President & CEO, Noblis (Reston)
  • Carey Smith; Chair, President & CEO, Parsons (Centreville)
  • Mike Londregan, Chief Security Officer, Peraton (Reston)
  • Shawn Purvis, QinetiQ US (Lorton)
  • Bob Genter, President, Defense and Civilian Sector, SAIC (Reston)
  • Tom Watson, CEO, Serco (Herndon)
  • John Ustica, President & CEO, Siemens Government Technologies (Reston)
  • Chuck Prow, President & CEO, V2X (Tysons)

Accelerating digital transformation: Centreville-based Parsons Corporation announced a new global strategic partnership with Microsoft to help organizations around the world enhance their digital transformation and cybersecurity capabilities, according to Intelligence Community News. The partnership will build upon existing collaboration between the two companies, combining the power of Microsoft’s Azure cloud and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies with Parsons’ expertise in the national security and global infrastructure markets, unlocking efficiencies, improving security, and opening doors to innovation as both companies work to upgrade society’s infrastructure. “This partnership brings together the collective strengths of two industry leaders and creates a new future for our markets. This is an important step in accelerating the world’s digital transformation and reinforcing the data-driven focus that fuels the innovations which create value for our customers every day,” said Peter Torrellas, president, connected communities business unit for Parsons.

More Parsons news: Centreville-based Parsons Corporation agreed to acquire IPKeys Power Partners. Founded in 2014, IPKeys Power Partners enhances Parsons’ critical infrastructure protection capabilities through comprehensive cloud-based cybersecurity, software solutions that operate at the intersection of information and operational technology (IT and OT), and technologies that will help accelerate the global clean energy transition, citybiz reported. “The addition of IPKeys brings important software platforms and capabilities that strengthen our integrated solutions that protect critical infrastructure,” said Carey Smith, Parsons’ chair, president, and chief executive officer.

Biggest challenge ahead: Reston-based Microsoft Federal President Rick Wagner discussed the competition with other industry giants, and what he sees for 2023, in an interview for a Washington Business Journal article for subscribers. Asked by the Journal’s publisher Alex Orfinger about the big challenges coming down the pike for Microsoft Federal, Wagner replied: “Right now, with macroeconomics in somewhat of a downturn, the federal government has to determine how it can best continue to support those missions. For us in this industry, the federal government tends to be one of the more stable buyers. It’s a long-term buyer. You’re not going to see as much variation as it goes through that. So I actually don’t see the economic downturn as the primary challenge. I see more the challenge as: There are numerous new technologies emerging, and the federal government has to determine how can it take advantage of all of those technologies. It’s automation, machine learning, AI.” Click here to read the entire Q&A.

Satellite cluster commissioned: Herndon-based HawkEye 360 has commissioned its sixth cluster of radio frequency (RF) sensing satellites, ExecutiveBiz reported. The Cluster 6 satellites are supported by a new ground station in Hawaii. With the start of Cluster 6 operation, HawkEye now has 18 satellites with frequency ranging from 15 to 18 gigahertz. The company plans to launch its seventh cluster in April, and two more clusters before the year ends. It intends to have 60 satellites in order to meet the growing demand for RF-based intelligence. “As political and military tensions increase in [mid-latitude] regions, the need for tactically relevant data is even more critical to detect, assess, and respond to threats,” HawkEye 360 Chief Growth Officer Alex Fox said.

Finals finished: Tysons-based satellite service provider Intelsat has concluded the assessment of an operational and data collection system for a novel space-based instrument, ExecutiveGov reported. Designed to observe significant air pollutants across North America, the spectrometer will be operated by Intelsat for NASA and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. “Working closely with our partners, we successfully completed a rigorous schedule of tests to ensure that commanding, telemetry, and mission data are flowing accurately and at near real-time speed from the IS-40e satellite through the Intelsat ground system to the Smithsonian and NASA scientists,” said Jean-Luc Froeliger, senior vice president of space systems at Intelsat.

Deploying at the tactical edge: Tysons-based Booz Allen Hamilton selected California-based machine learning operations company Latent AI to help its Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Office develop and deploy ML and AI models at the tactical edge, ExecutiveBiz reported. Latent AI said its platform will be used to assist the Department of Defense’s edge AI development and implementation efforts. Steve Escaravage, executive vice president and lead of Booz Allen’s analytics practice and artificial intelligence division, noted the organizations’ need for “scalable AI and data compression at the tactical edge” to create an interconnected force.

Ensuring safety: Security technology provider Pangiam, which established its global headquarters in Tysons in September 2022, has teamed up with Dutch airport management company Royal Schiphol Group to accelerate the hand baggage screening process at Schiphol and other airports. Powered by artificial intelligence and algorithms, Pangiam’s technology helps passengers pass through security checks swiftly while ensuring safety. Schiphol is the first airport in Europe to support Project DARTMOUTH, which is an alliance between Pangiam and Google Cloud. Pangiam Project DARTMOUTH head Alexis Long said: “Royal Schiphol Group has an international reputation for innovation and excellence in technology. This collaboration allows us to bring the benefits of artificial intelligence to the security checkpoint and improve the process.” Airport Technology has more.

Shared innovation commitment: Tysons-based kidney care company Somatus expanded its partnership with Inova Health System with the launch of a new Nurse Navigator Program. Together, the two organizations have a long-standing partnership committed to improving care and outcomes for patients with or at risk of developing kidney disease. Inova Health System implemented the new Nurse Navigation Program across all five hospitals in January 2023. It aims to transform how patients of Somatus’ health plan customers with kidney disease experience and receive care in the acute setting and throughout their transition of care back to home. “The Nurse Navigator Program is an excellent example of our shared commitment to innovation coming to life,” Ikenna Okezie, MD, co-founder and CEO of Somatus, said in the release. “Together, we will continue to provide exemplary quality care and improved outcomes for all our patients.” Helio has more.

Electric school bus partnership: Reston headquartered Bechtel was selected by Ohio-based First Student, a provider of student transportation services in North America, to support its electrification efforts. Bechtel will immediately start designing and building charging stations for one of First Student’s electrification projects in the U.S. The two companies intend to partner on more electric vehicle deployments in the future, with Bechtel providing engineering, procurement, and construction services, according to School Bus Fleet. “Bechtel provides electric vehicle charging infrastructure to fleet customers so they can focus on their core business, whether it is safely moving students or delivering packages,” said Catherine Hunt Ryan, President – Bechtel Manufacturing & Technology, Executive Director – Bechtel Group. “Vehicle fleet operators are instrumental in the electric vehicle transition. Bechtel will help First Student advance their electrification goals by being a one-stop partner through design and build.”

Contract Wins

Leidos (Reston) won a three-year, $94.8 million delivery order under a U.S. Navy contract to support the branch’s Overlord Unmanned Surface Vessel and Medium Unmanned Surface Vehicle platforms. GovConWire

CGI Federal (Fairfax) obtained a five-year, $40 million contract from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for system modernization support. ExecutiveBiz

General Dynamics Information Technology (Falls Church area) will update the legacy systems of the U.S. Space Systems Command under an $18 million contract from the Space Enterprise Consortium. ExecutiveBiz

FCEDA Hosted and Sponsored Events

March 31 – Fairfax County Green Business Partners Forum. Smart City Works, in partnership with Fairfax County Green Business Partners, the Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination, and the Fairfax County Department of Economic Initiatives on the Green Business Partners Forum. The goal of this Forum is to inform and inspire local business leaders interested in sustainability and to share to learn from businesses already on their sustainable journey. Click here for more information and to register.

September 26-28 – 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.