November 17, 2023: Fairfax Founders Fund Inaugural Cohort Announced + Weekly Business News Digest

Fairfax Founders Fund Inaugural Cohort of Grant Funding Recipients Announced

(From left to right: Amit K. Singh, CEO; Christopher J. Faranetta, Vice President & Co-Founder of NearStar Fusion; Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust. Photo courtesy of NearStar Fusion)

Five Fairfax County-based companies developing cutting-edge innovations and leveraging emerging technologies were awarded grant funding through the Fairfax Founders Fund. These companies were selected based on their potential of their innovative tech products and demonstrated business growth opportunities.

Anapact / The Smart Headgear, Alexandria

BloomCatch, Centreville 

3D Orthobiologic Solutions (3DOS), Herndon

Healp (fka Riley App), Fairfax Station

NearStar Fusion, Chantilly 

*More information on these companies can be found here.

Anapact, BloomCatch, 3D Orthobiologic Solutiosn, Healp and NearStar Fusion represent a group of visionary startups that exemplify local innovation and entrepreneurship. The up to $50,000 in grant funding per business will provide a significant boost to their ventures, help them grow in Fairfax County, and showcase the region’s dynamic and thriving startup ecosystem.

(The 5 Fairfax Founders Fund company recipients. Photo courtesy of Bloomcatch.)

The Fairfax Founders Fund, a program funded by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, aims to support early-stage, high-growth startups. The program provides grants and technical assistance to product and technology-based companies on the path to seeking institutional investments or awards and expanded customers. The primary objectives of the fund are to stimulate economic development, connect startups with local resources and partnerships, and promote economic mobility by ensuring that early-stage capital is accessible to entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds. The application period for the next round of funding through the Fairfax Founders Fund is November 27, 2023, through January 8, 2024.

New Report: Foreign Direct Investment Vital to Northern Virginia Economy

The Northern Virginia Regional Commission (NVRC), with support from the “Go Virginia Region 7 Council,” Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA) and other Northern Virginia jurisdictions, have completed a precedent-setting analysis about the effects of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) within the boundaries of the City of Alexandria, and Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties.  The study is the first of its kind in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the second in the United States after Los Angeles County. The study assessed all sectors except retail.

“We have hundreds of foreign-owned firms with locations here in Fairfax County, and foreign direct investment plays a key role in the diversity and strength of our local economy,” said Victor Hoskins, President and CEO of FCEDA. “As the economic engine of Northern Virginia, the significant foreign direct investment here in Fairfax County positively impact the vitality of our $250 billion regional economy.”

The findings of the study highlight that:

  • 1,252 foreign establishments in Northern Virginia employ approximately 50,879 people.
  • Approximately $6.8 Billion in wages are annually paid into Northern Virginia’s economy from FDI.
  • FDI in Northern Virginia accounts for approximately 4.6% of all job creation
  • Average of 40.6 employees per foreign establishment compared to 13.9 across all types of companies.
  • Professional, scientific and technical services account for approximately 49% of employment from FDI in Northern Virginia.

The top five foreign investors in the region are (ranked by job creation):

  1. United Kingdom (11,980 jobs, 247 establishments)
  2. Germany (5,976 jobs, 101 establishments)
  3. Canada (4,590 jobs, 144 establishments)
  4. Ireland (3,986 jobs, 39 establishments)
  5. France (3,651 jobs, 100 establishments

The study was conducted by S&P Global under a contract with NVRC and the full report can be downloaded here: https://www.novaregiondashboard.com/reports. 

Weekly Business News Digest

Record pipeline: Tysons-based Hilton Worldwide has set a record for its hotel pipeline, hitting 3,190 hotels, representing 457,300 keys, as of September 30, 2023, WTOP reported. Hilton approved 35,500 new rooms for development during Q3 this year, representing growth of four percent from June 30, 2023, and 10 percent from September 30, 2022. Of the rooms in the development, 223,000 were under construction and 257,200 were located outside of Hilton’s home U.S. market. Pipeline projects are spread throughout 119 countries and territories, including 29 countries and territories where the group did not have any existing hotels.

Now that’s a lot of energy! Chantilly-based NearStar Fusion was cited in a New York Times article about companies working to ignite fusion energy. The featured companies are looking to commercialize advances made by federally supported research labs in the quest for boundless energy, according to the article. Unlike some other companies, NewStar Fusion does not plan to use lasers for this purpose, but will smash projectiles into fuel pellets, using the force of impact to fuse the hydrogen atoms. In addition, NearStar will use a crushingly strong magnetic field to help retain the heat within each implosion.

New digs for land design firm: A land design and engineering firm will expand soon with a new office in Fairfax County, where it already regularly consults on development projects. Woodbridge-based Land Design Consultants (LDC) announced that it will open a second Northern Virginia office in Metroplace I, an 8-floor office building at 2650 Park Tower Drive near the Dunn Loring Metro station, FFXnow reported. Intended to give the company a base closer to its clients in the D.C. area, the new, 4,000-square-foot office will focus on landscape architecture services with studio space for 20 employees, who are expected to move in this coming January.

Sweet deal: A subsidiary of McLean-based international candy and pet food manufacturer Mars, the largest privately held company in Virginia, has agreed to acquire Britain’s Hotel Chocolat for $662 million, Virginia Business reported. Bidco, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mars, will acquire Britain’s largest chocolate maker in a cash offer of about $662 million, in a deal that will help the brand continue expansion. In a news release, Mars said the company believes the acquisition will strengthen its presence in the United Kingdom. As of July, Hotel Chocolat had 2,339 employees, according to the company’s annual report.

Making waves: After nabbing a $5 million seed round, Reston-based Tidal Cyber is planning to make waves in the local industry, technical.ly reported. Tidal Cyber, a 20-person startup, was founded by CEO Rick Gordon, CTO Richard Struse and CIO Frank Duff – all MITRE veterans. The startup works in threat-informed defense in conjunction with MITRE’s ATT&CK platform, which the founders helped build. Squadra Ventures led the round, which will help grow the company, alongside existing investors. Gordon told Technical.ly that the cofounders incorporated the company in late 2021, Gordon said, and officially left MITRE in January 2022. They decided to create the startup after hearing from MITRE customers, who Gordon said are some of the largest consumers of security products in the world.

They got the look! Herndon-based BlackSky, whose small imaging satellites collect high-resolution images for government and commercial customers, saw a 26 percent year-over-year gain in quarterly revenue, driven by growing demand by intelligence agencies globally for its detailed imagery, WTOP reported. BlackSky’s low earth orbit small satellite constellations capture real-time and high-frequency geospatial intelligence, used to monitor defense and economic interests by its clients globally. “Increased customer demand worldwide for BlackSky’s space-based intelligence drove record revenues in the third quarter. New contracts and renewal agreements primarily supporting U.S. and international government agencies illustrates growing demand and demonstrates how BlackSky is increasingly relied upon by some of the most demanding customers around the world,” said CEO Brian O’Toole.

Blast off! Tysons-based Spire Global successfully launched 11 satellites on the SpaceX Transporter-9 mission from Vandenberg Space Force Base on Nov.11, including ten satellites for space services customers and one for Spire’s data and analytics solutions, Intelligence Community News reported. “This launch marks a milestone for us, hosting the largest number of space services customers on a single mission to date,” said Frank Frulio, the general manager of space services at Spire. “Rather than viewing space as an escape from Earth’s challenges, we see it as a source of invaluable insights and data for addressing our planet’s most pressing issues. Through Spire Space Services, we’re streamlining space access so that any organization can tap into the benefits of space-based data.”

Elevated upward curve: Reston-based Applied Information Sciences (AIS) has tripled in size over seven years and has in place a new federal business leader to help steer the next phase of its strategy, according to Washington Technology. Applied Information Sciences has approximately 1,000 employee-owners that will drive their company’s push to take on larger programs in the next phase of its strategy. The four-decade-old provider of cloud engineering and other technology services has tripled in size since 2016, certainly an elevated upward curve for any company in the government market over that duration. “When we say grow the company, it’s not growth for the few, it’s growth for everyone,” AIS’ co-founder and chief executive Larry Katzman said. “We are so fortunate to have people that have been here for five years, 10 years, sometimes decades, and their entire career with us.”

Beacon of Hope: In celebration of Veteran’s Day, Herndon-based Beacon announced the winners of its annual Beacon of Hope program, a North American initiative awarding Veterans facing adversity with new roofs. Together with local roofing companies, Beacon will deliver and facilitate roof replacements for 10 Veteran homes or Veteran community buildings at no cost to the recipients. “Veterans have given so much to protect us, so we must find ways to reciprocate with our unwavering support,” said Jonathan Bennett, Beacon’s Chief Commercial Officer. “The Beacon of Hope program is just one way we can give back to our Veterans who need assistance with a basic necessity — a safe and secure home. We hope this initiative inspires others to support our heroes and become their ‘Beacon of Hope’.” Yahoo Finance has more.

Contract Wins

General Dynamics Information Technology (Falls Church area) won a 10-year, $2.54 billion contract from the U.S. Department of the Interior to support the Indian Health Service’s health IT modernization effort. GovConWire

Parsons (Centreville) obtained five-year, $91 million contract from the U.S. Cyber Command to support the J9 PEO Cyber and Joint Cyber Warfighting Architecture Integration Office. ExecutiveBiz

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.