Fairfax County E-Bird newsletter for May 4, 2021: Ridgeline creating jobs, Tellius has Series A investment

“Ideal talent pool” speeds Ridgeline growth: Tysons-based Ridgeline International, a custom-technology solutions company, will invest $1.75 million to expand in Fairfax County, creating 162 jobs. Founded in 2015, Ridgeline has more than 200 current employees. The company offers technology solutions for the federal government, commercial and nonprofit sectors. “First and foremost, operating out of Fairfax County has afforded us access to an impressive and ideal talent pool,” said Ridgeline International CEO Erik Wittreich. “This is important for any emerging startup, particularly one centered on scarce technical talent. Furthermore, Fairfax has a thriving economy, professional associations, and an overall rich community experience.” Potomac Tech Wire picked up the FCEDA’s news release. Virginia Business has more.

Nothing artificial about this investment: Tellius, a Reston-based startup developing a decision-intelligence platform based on artificial intelligence, raised $8 million in a Series A round. The company has now raised a total of $17 million. Tellius said that it has seen a 300 percent increase in revenue over the last 12 months. “Our vision is to help individuals — whether they are an advanced analyst, citizen data scientist, or business user — quickly gain data insights that will inform better, more impactful business decisions,” said Ajay Khanna, CEO and founder of Tellius. Technical.ly DC has more.

Rapid evolution: Real estate developer Lennar is angling to get in on Fairfax County’s growing Richmond Highway corridor, pitching a mix of apartments and townhomes near a future bus rapid transit (BRT) station. The company filed plans to build 470 homes on a 7.6-acre site near the intersection of U.S. Route 1 (Richmond Highway) and North Kings Highway, currently the home of a consignment store. Lennar expects to build up to 385 apartments in a multifamily building alongside 85 townhomes on the property. Though the area is still dotted with suburban shopping centers and car dealerships for the moment, it’s set to experience a rapid evolution in the coming years as the county moves to overhaul the corridor and add the BRT line between the Huntington Metro Station and Fort Belvoir, the Washington Business Journal reports.

Largest-ever gift: Chicago-based Boeing, which has a large presence in Northern Virginia,  committed $50 million to Virginia Tech’s forthcoming Innovation Campus in Alexandria, equaling the largest-ever gift in the history of the Blacksburg-based university. According to the announcement, the funding will go toward student scholarships, faculty and researcher recruitment and to support pathway programs for underserved K-12 students seeking college degrees and careers in high-tech sectors. Boeing becomes the first foundational partner of the $1 billion Virginia Tech campus, which was announced in 2018 as part of the package that helped bring Amazon’s second headquarters to  Arlington County, according to the Washington Business Journal.

Championing cybersecurity research: The Commonwealth Cyber Initiative allocated $1 million toward experiential cybersecurity projects for students at universities across the state, including at Fairfax-based George Mason University. CCI is a state-funded network of 21 Virginia universities and 320 faculty members that supports and funds research and projects to promote the cybersecurity workforce training pipeline in the commonwealth, reported Virginia Business. The projects are all designed to benefit different aspects of the cybersecurity workforce, including bio-cybersecurity — an emerging field related to health care and health data — and autonomous vehicle cybersecurity, as well as several dedicated to boosting cybersecurity startups and expanding internships in the information security industry, according to EDSCOOP.

Business boot camp for women vets: The PenFed Foundation, founded by Tysons-headquartered PenFed Credit Union, launched a Women Veteran Boot Camp Accelerator designed to educate and empower women veteran-owned, small businesses in the government contracting space by bringing resources together from across the nation to create increased access to capital and opportunity. The PenFed Foundation’s Veteran Entrepreneur Investment Program will engage established women veteran entrepreneurs with businesses in government contracting through free, business-focused education sessions, coaching, networking opportunities and access to grants and fellowships during the six-month program. InsideNoVa brought us the boot camp announcement.

Bitcoin cheerleader: Michael Saylor, chairman and CEO of Tysons-based business intelligence and software company MicroStrategy, is known as “bitcoin’s chief cheerleader,” writes Virginia Business deputy editor Rich Griset, who profiled Saylor in the magazine’s May edition cover story. During the past nine months, under Saylor’s direction, MicroStrategy, a 2,000-employee, publicly traded company, has spent more than $2.2 billion acquiring bitcoin; as of April 14, MicroStrategy’s investment was worth $5.94 billion. “MicroStrategy has recognized bitcoin as a legitimate investment asset that can be superior to cash and accordingly has made bitcoin the principal holding in its treasury reserve strategy,” Saylor said in a statement in 2020. “Bitcoin is digital gold — harder, stronger, faster and smarter than any money that has preceded it.” Find out more about Saylor’s bitcoin strategy in Virginia Business.

Science, logic and a unicorn: When it comes to venture capital funding for companies based in the DMV, 2021 is starting off with a bang. Numbers from the latest MoneyTree Report from PwC/CB Insights show that companies in the D.C. region raised a whopping $1.24 billion spread out over 53 deals in just the first quarter of 2021. That’s a 152 percent jump in dollars and 47 percent in number of deals from the fourth quarter of 2020. Some of the biggest VC rounds this quarter include a $105 million Series E raise from Reston’s ScienceLogic; and Tysons-based ID.me’s new status as a unicorn company after a $100 million Series C investment, reported technical.ly.

Ka-LEIDOS-opic repository: A Reston-based Leidos led team, along with Kansas City, Mo.-based Cerner; Chicago-US based Accenture, which has offices in Arlington and Reston; and Utah-based Henry Schein One; has fielded the U.S. military’s new electronic health record system for 10,000 care providers across 12 states. The Leidos Partnership for Defense Health deployed the MHS Genesis platform to more new users as part of a 23-wave rollout initiative the team expects to complete by the end of 2023. MHS Genesis is designed to function as a single repository of inpatient and outpatient records on military personnel and their families, ExecutiveBiz reported.

Hat’s off for an expanded perspective: Chantilly-based Perspecta and  Raleigh, NC-based Red Hat, which has a Tysons office, have teamed up to come up with an open standards, open-source technology-based system that is built around patients and meant to help health care providers eliminate barriers to delivering medical care to patients. HealthConcourse, a system developed by Perspecta using Red Hat technology, will help users develop event-driven models for health care by collecting data from multiple sources, according to GovConWire.

A noble acquisition: Noblis, the Reston-based provider of technology to the federal government, bought Philadelphia-based McKean Defense, a provider of naval technology. Mikros Systems and Cabrillo Technologies, former units of McKean Defense, are now part of a new subsidiary of Noblis. “As mission-driven companies, Noblis and McKean Defense have a common purpose to enrich lives and make our nation safer with a shared passion for excellence and innovation,” said Amr ElSawy, Noblis’ president and CEO. “We are excited to welcome McKean employees to the Noblis family and look forward to combining forces to bring new and complementary solutions to address our clients’ growing needs.” Intelligence Community News has more.

Parlez-vous satellite? French satellite operator Eutelsat is paying $550 million to buy 24 percent of UK-based OneWeb, which is based in North America in Tysons. Buying a part of OneWeb’s low earth orbit (LEO) broadband constellation is a major strategy shift for Eutelsat, which is seeing its satellite TV business slowly decline as Netflix and other streaming services rise in popularity. The Paris-based company operates a fleet of geostationary satellites, but has been dipping its toes into LEO with a constellation called Eutelsat ELO, targeting the market for connecting Internet of Things devices. SpaceNews brought us the orbital update.

Combating addiction: Reston-based Leidos is partnering with the Washington, D.C.-based Milken Institute Center for Public Health in an effort to combat opioid addiction. Leidos and Milken intend to mobilize employers in all industries to address the opioid and concurrent mental health crises. “COVID-19 has turned the growing crisis of opioid addiction into a full scale emergency – one affecting millions of Americans and their families,” said Roger Krone, chairman and CEO of Leidos. ExecutiveBiz has more.

Rise and shine: More mixed-use construction is on the way for Reston’s Halley Rise project, with Washington, D.C., developer Akridge joining Brookfield Properties in the effort. Akridge filed plans with Fairfax County earlier in April to build 480 residential units in two buildings at the Wegmans-anchored development. The Halley Rise project, on the south side of the Dulles Toll Road adjacent to the Reston Town Center Metro Station, is set to include about 3.5 million square feet by the time it is fully built-out, making it one of the largest ongoing developments in the Washington area, according to Washington Business Journal.

Chart topper: Reston Hospital Center, which is owned by HCA Healthcare, was named as one of the top “Medium Community Hospitals” in the nation by Fortune, in partnership with IBM Watson Health on the 2021 ranking of the 100 Top Hospitals in the U.S. According to Fortune, IBM researchers evaluated 2,675 hospitals and 324 health systems for this year’s list. Virginia Business has more.

Electricity is in the air: Volkswagen Group, which has its North American operations based in Herndon, was named this week to Time magazine’s inaugural 100 Most Influential Companies list, receiving accolades for its move into electric automobiles. The German automotive corporation has set aside $54 billion for electrified vehicles over the next five years, with plans for six new battery factories and 18,000 charging stations throughout Europe, according to Time’s entry on Volkswagen. VW sold 231,600 electric vehicles last year, three times its sales in 2019, and is aiming for 1 million in 2021, according to Time.

Electricity is in the air, part 2: Luxury electric-car manufacturer Lucid Motors is expanding its Tysons presence. Lucid, which last year announced it would open a 4,450-square-foot studio at Tysons Corner Center, filed plans to build a new vehicle service and delivery center at Tysons Galleria. It will occupy 27,642 square feet on the lower level of the former Macy’s store, which mall owner Brookfield Properties has worked to convert to other uses. The Washington Business Journal has this “shocking” story.

Best workplaces: Fairfax County Fortune 500 companies Northrop Grumman and Capital One are among the 50 best workplaces in the nation to grow your career, according to LinkedIn’s Top Companies List. Falls Church area-based Northrop Grumman, which ranks No. 32 on the LinkedIn Top Companies list, was cited for a variety of mentorship programs for women. Capital One, based in Tysons, comes in at No. 39 on the list, with funding analyst, business analysis manager and auditor named as in-demand jobs. Amazon, which is developing its HQ2 East Coast headquarters in Arlington, ranks No. 1 on the list, which spotlights companies that attract and invest in talent. LinkedIn used its own data to build the list, considering issues such as “ability to advance, skills growth, company stability, external opportunity, company affinity, gender diversity and educational background,” according to Virginia Business.


Notable contract wins by firms in Fairfax County

Northrop Grumman received a $959.1 million contract from the Army to build aircraft-common infrared countermeasure systems. GovConWire

Maximus Federal secured a $951 million contract to support a national hotline program for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts. GovConWire

Alion Science and Technology scored a five-year, $292 million contract for the advancement of protection systems for the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center. Intelligence Community News

VTG won a $116 million, five-year contract from the Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific to provide engineering and production services to the center’s network integration engineering facility. Virginia Business

Noblis won a $99 million contract to advise and assist the Department of Homeland Security on projects to defend against weapons of mass destruction. GovConWire

Chenega Global Protection, a subsidiary of Chenega, landed a five year, $27 million contract from the Army to provide security and access control services for the Army’s Garrison-Kwajalein Atoll Reagan test site in the Marshall Islands. ExecutiveGov

ICF booked $13 million in two five-year contracts to help the Federal Transit Administration modernize the nation’s database of transit operations. ExecutiveBiz


Featured business events

May 4 @ 10 a.m. — Entrepreneurship 101: Starting a Business in Fairfax County. The FCEDA and small-business experts from the Fairfax County-based Community Business Partnership, Virginia Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity and the U.S. Small Business Administration present an interactive webinar on how to start a business. This session’s Entrepreneurial Spotlight will feature Kristina Bouweiri, CEO of Reston Limousine, who will share valuable business tips based on her entrepreneurial journey. Click here to register.

May 6 — 9th Annual NoVA B2G Matchmaking Conference & Expo Online. The Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce presents a virtual event that will include matchmaking, educational breakout sessions, a virtual Expo Hall, and innovative keynotes Click here to register.

May 6 — Tri-County Economic Development Update. The Committee for Dulles presents a conversation with representatives from Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William Counties regarding economic development activity updates featuring presentations by David Kelley (Fairfax County EDA), Brandon Farris (Loudoun County), and Michele Weatherly (Prince William County) on economic development activities for the three jurisdictions. Click here to register.

May 18 — ExportON! Emerging Tech Trade Forum Northern Virginia, USA/ Ontario, Canada. The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority and the Province of Ontario, Canada presents a program for innovative tech companies on partnership opportunities between the Province of Ontario and Northern Virginia. Click here to register.

May 20 — Entry-Level Professionals Virtual Career Fair. The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority presents a free virtual career fair for entry-level professionals or recent (or soon-to-be) college graduates looking to launch their career at 25 leading companies in Northern Virginia. Click here 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.


Expanded capacity, social gathering limits coming May 15

Governor Ralph Northam announced April 22 that sports and entertainment venues in Virginia may begin to operate with expanded capacity, and social gathering limits will increase beginning Saturday, May 15. The announcement comes as vaccinations continue to rise in the Commonwealth, and more than half of all adults have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. All Virginians age 16 and older are now eligible to for the vaccine.

The Governor also reminded Virginians that getting vaccinated keeps communities safer, and allows expanded personal activities—for example, people who have been fully vaccinated do not have to quarantine after an exposure, per guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Commonwealth will continue to mandate mask-wearing and social distancing, even as commercial restrictions are further eased. Key changes in the Sixth Amended Executive Order Seventy-Two will go into effect on May 15 include:

  • Social gatherings: The maximum number of individuals permitted in a social gathering will increase to 100 people for indoor settings and 250 people for outdoor settings. Social gatherings are currently limited to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.
  • Entertainment venues: Indoor entertainment and public amusement venues will be able to operate at 50 percent capacity or 1,000 people, up from 30 percent capacity or 500 people. Outdoor venues will be able to operate at 50 percent capacity—up from 30 percent—with no specific cap on the number of attendees.
  • Recreational sporting events: The number of spectators allowed at indoor recreational sporting events will increase from 100 to 250 spectators or 50 percent capacity, whichever is less. Outdoor recreational sporting events will increase from 500 to 1,000 people or 50 percent capacity, whichever is less. 
  • Alcohol sales: Restaurants may return to selling alcohol after midnight, and dining room closures will no longer be required between midnight and 5:00 a.m.

The full text of Sixth Amended Executive Order Seventy-Two and Order of Public Health Emergency Nine is available here. Updated guidelines for specific sectors can be found here.

Governor Northam also made minor changes to the existing mitigation measures, including increased accommodations for cross-country events, school-based fine arts performances, and expanded access to bar seating in restaurants with strict social distancing. These changes are reflected in the current Fifth Amended Executive Order Seventy-Two available here.

Visit virginia.gov/coronavirus/forwardvirginia for more information and answers to frequently asked questions.

Virginia has now administered more than 6.3 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and is currently giving more than 69,500 shots per day. Over 3.8 million people have received at least one dose of the vaccine, more than half of all adults in Virginia and more than 45 percent of the total population.

Virginians over the age of 16 can schedule an appointment for vaccination by visiting vaccinate.virginia.gov or calling 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682, TTY users call 7-1-1).