the Power of Ideas channel

In Fairfax County, meaningful information and research fuel the Power of Ideas. That’s why we created the Power of Ideas Channel: to bring you the latest business and economic development news and information. Here, you can access articles curated and written by Fairfax County EDA, read the latest editions of our E-Bird news digest, review business news from NPR and learn about best practices from Harvard Business Review. Click below and experience the benefit of having the right information right at your fingertips.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018 - 10:27am

Innovative firms find partners for development at Smart City Works, Fairfax County's infrastructure actuator

A multitude of accelerators, incubators and funding sources for entrepreneurs and startup companies can be found in the Greater Washington, D.C. metro area.

But there is only one "actuator" -- Smart City Works -- which operates in conjunction with the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) in Herndon and offers blossoming companies a collaborative workspace environment at Refraction in Reston.

More important than what Smart City Works calls itself is what the Fairfax County-based entity does.

Co-founded by Robert Mazer, Gregory Sauter and David Heyman in 2017, the actuator uniquely focuses on infrastructure innovation, seeking ways to help cities across the globe cope with hurdles they're likely to encounter as they experience a 70 percent population growth within the next two decades.

"We are niche-focused," Heyman says. "No other accelerator is focused exclusively on infrastructure or the 'built' environment. It's all about the notion of making our cities and communities smarter. We're not into consumer goods or only into software like many other accelerators.

"We're looking at the infrastructure that makes our cities run. We ask: How do we improve the way we live and operate in cities? By leveraging new technologies and an enhanced model for commercialization, we can significantly improve and revitalize the well-being, sustainability, resiliency and livability of cities."  

In return for a small slice of equity, Smart City provides its select startups with office and work space, an intensive training program, mentors and the chance to build ongoing business relationships.

"We are actually the first 'actuator' -- a next-generation business accelerator," Heyman says. "It's a new class of accelerator that takes emerging and innovative technologies and helps them, more rapidly, get into the marketplace. That's because we have the relationships, the ecosystem and the experience to make a difference. For example, one of our partners has 30 years in the construction business."

Smarty City's web site lists partners, mentors and sponsors that make the effort possible and back its promise to stay involved for the long haul.

"Once you're in the program, we're on your team," Heyman said. "We want to help you succeed through mentoring, introductions and opportunities to become engaged with potential customers, strategic partnerships, investors and pilot projects."

The initial 10-week boot camp model to assess and improve core business competencies has been altered for the upcoming cohort which will include three weeks of in-person tutorial with about seven weeks of virtual participation.

To date, Smart City has fielded two cohorts, each with six entrepreneurial CEOs, and is about to hold its Demo Day on January 25, for its most recent class.

Heyman notes that Smart City has already helped commercialize unique companies including a crowdfunding platform for infrastructure (Infrashares). 

Another of its graduates is Indeco, is offering the first SEC-regulated crypto asset, which will be used to fund sustainable infrastructure such as clean energy products and building controls as it leverages the power of blockchain to provide a better human habitat.

"After only six weeks into the Smart City Works actuation program we had relocated our headquarters to Reston," said David Levine, founder and CEO of Indeco. "(We had) found and hired a CFO, refined our business model, integrated a sales marketing and CRM capability into our platform and raised over $150,000 in the first token-presale ever issues in a regulation crowdfunding campaign."

Smart City Work's first cohort included Capital Construction Solutions, a company that made risk management data for construction companies available in real time. A second company developed a building design tool to help developers improve building performance by understanding the effect of building placement and environmental impact. A third firm gained attention with software designed for IoT devices in the cloud to rapidly control security, while another designed a real-time test for water quality that could have municipalities and city water departments taking notice.

This week, Smart City Works issued its call for applicants for its upcoming spring cohort which is scheduled to begin April 4 and expected to include as many as 10 cutting-edge firms. 

Priority focus areas will be transport, construction techniques, resilience/public safety and use of urban data/IoT technologies. Additionally, Smart City and CIT are actively seeking companies to fill the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's demand for a commercial indoor sensor capability that can deliver potentially life-saving information about a building's construction and safety to first responders. 

Two spots have already been filled by innovative companies from Slovakia -- part of Virginia's initiative to bring new talent to the commonwealth. The fall cohort had companies come to Fairfax County from Brazil, Australia and California as well as a company based partly in India.

Though Smart City is attracting candidates from around the globe as well as northern Virginia, Heyman envisions the actuator to be a boon for Fairfax County, bringing new jobs as well as fresh ideas. "Our hope and expectations are that given the leadership focused on smart communities in Fairfax County, we can light the way and that we'll see companies from across the U.S. and the globe move to this region to do impactful work," he said. 

Smart City Works is located at 2214 Rock Hill Road, Suite 600, Herndon, VA 20170. 929-276-2789;

U.S. opportunities in cybersecurity, HLS and emergency management will highlight January 25 program in Tel Aviv

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Fairfax County, Virginia -- The Tel Aviv and Central Israel Chamber of Commerce and Fairfax County Virginia Economic Development Authority (FCEDA) will co-present “Business Opportunities in the U.S. 2018,” a discussion designed with cybersecurity innovators, homeland security firms and first responders in mind.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018 - 10:29am

Hot off the press: Jerry Gordon, FCEDA president and CEO, talks about the value of diversity, startup businesses, and their impact on Fairfax County in a CEO Blog Nation Q&A posted last week. Gordon says that in the next several years, "Our focus will continue to shift to the businesses of the future and to enabling new businesses [to] get started and new ideas to be nurtured and commercialized." He adds: "It's a great place to grow a business because there is a strong economic base to provide demand for products and services. There is an excitement about business in Fairfax County." 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018 - 10:28am

Long-term plan: Inova Mount Vernon Hospital in the Alexandria area of Fairfax County has plans to build a 52-bed, long-term acute care facility. The $21 million project -- based on a hospital-within-a-hospital approach -- would take shape within a renovated portion of the hospital and be ready by early 2020. Inova officials, according to Tina Reed in a story for Washington Business Journal subscribers, says the area has a need for 60 to 100 long-term acute care beds, serving  patients with critical needs that average stays of 25 days or longer.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018 - 10:28am

Pet care pickup: McLean-based Mars Inc. is doubling down on precision medicine for pets through its acquisition of Genoscoper Laboratories, a Helsinki, Finland-based company. The Washington Business Journal's Drew Hansen notes that Mars subsidiaries have previously teamed with Genoscoper on the Wisdom Panel DNA test for dogs and Optimal Selection Feline test for cats. As with humans, genetic testing can help determine carriers for specific diseases and can identify mixed-breed dogs or cats at risk for developing genetic conditions, providing pet lovers information about managing care.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018 - 10:27am

Core of the matter: LGS Innovations of Herndon is developing a communications laser to support a deep-space mission. Its purpose will be to study a rare nickel-iron asteroid known as Psyche, which orbits the sun between Mars and Jupiter.  Arizona State University scientists suspect that Psyche is an exposed planetary core. Robert J. Perry's report is certainly worth the nickel for subscribers of the Washington Business Journal.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018 - 10:27am

Clouded view: CSRA has targeted February 1 as the date to launch a new cloud system for the Department of Defense. As Ross Wilkers of  Washington Technology reports, the system was built under a $498 million contract awarded last June. That award carried a three-year base and five one-year options. The MilCloud 2.0 platform for DISA and DoD shifts defense and military applications from a government-run cloud to a cloud infrastructure run by a contractor and housed within a DoD data center.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018 - 10:27am

Onward and upward: Capital One's Tysons Corner campus is taking shape with construction of its impressive 470-foot tower nearing completion. Brian Trompeter of InsideNoVa takes a look at what else is coming to the site, including a 1,500-seat performing arts center, a 250-seat "black-box" theater, a hotel, a residence tower, retail space and a Wegmans supermarket.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018 - 10:26am

A "Pera" new sectors: Peraton, based in Herndon, announced the addition of two new sectors. According to a release picked up by Potomac Tech Wire, the company's Space, Intelligence and Cyber division will tackle projects focusing on space protection and resiliency, intelligence processing, secure communications, cyber operations and network platform protection. The Defense and Electronic Warfare sector will serve as Peraton's research and development arm

Tuesday, January 16, 2018 - 10:25am

Just so happens: The E-Bird had already named advanced technology training company Revature, headquartered in Reston, as its Company in the Spotlight for this week. In a case of coincidental timing, GlassDoor's Emily Moore ranks Revature second on a list of eight employers with exceptional perks and benefits. 

Thursday, January 11, 2018 - 10:03am

Hot off the press: It's not every day that an FCEDA commissioner is appointed to the governor's cabinet. That was the case Tuesday when incoming Governor Ralph Northam named FCEDA Commission Vice Chairman Esther C. Lee to become Virginia's next secretary of trade and commerce. Read more, including comments from FCEDA President and CEO Gerald L. Gordon, by clicking here.

Thursday, January 11, 2018 - 10:02am

Now hear this: Women in Technology is accepting applications for protégés to join its next Mentor-Protégé Program, which will begin February 13 in Reston. Mentors are director or executive level professionals with at least 15 years of career experience providing leadership in technical or business functions. Protégés are typically women early in their careers, changing career direction or re-entering the workforce. For more information click here

Thursday, January 11, 2018 - 10:02am

Sparking interest: The massive Consumer Electronics Show, now simply known as CES and sponsored by the Consumer Technology Association, runs through tomorrow in Las Vegas. Sam Sabin of DC Inno singled out Accenture, a global management consulting technology services firm with offices in Fairfax County, and LifeFuels, a Reston-based maker of a healthy fitness drink and smart nutrition bottle, as exhibitors to watch. Other CES exhibitors with Fairfax County connections include, Volkswagen Group of America and Capital One

Thursday, January 11, 2018 - 10:02am

Creating a new Mosaic: A second phase of the Mosaic District is being proposed by Retail Properties of America, which is making plans to develop a million-square-foot area adjacent to the existing mixed-use community in Merrifield.  Katie Arcieri, in a story for subscribers of the Washington Business Journal, has more specifics about RPAI's plans to replace a 1970s era shopping center and other businesses along Gallows Road with a mix of multifamily units, restaurants, retail and office space.

Thursday, January 11, 2018 - 10:01am

Life in the fast lane: Transurban, the Australian toll road builder based locally in the Alexandria portion of Fairfax County, will partner with VDOT to extend existing I-95 Express Lanes an additional 10 miles south to Fredericksburg. InsideNoVa was among those reporting the announcement by Governor Terry McAuliffe. Construction is expected to begin in 2019 but won't be complete until the fall of 2022.

Thursday, January 11, 2018 - 10:01am

Ready for Reston: Fairfax County's ready access to multiple fiber networks and the ability to connect to existing data centers on the West Coast are among reasons Evocative LLC, an Emeryville, Calif.-based data center operator, has acquired a 25,000-square-foot Reston location from Lincoln Rackhouse. "We decided to expand into the largest data center market on the planet with the understanding that our clients and the industry as a whole are looking for options and many clients are not happy with mega-wholesale real estate minded operators," Evocative CEO Arman Khalili told Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox of

Thursday, January 11, 2018 - 10:00am

Take no prisoners: The Washington Post's Audrey Hoffer looks at housing options being offered on the 300-acre site of the former Lorton Reformatory. The residential community known as Liberty will have 24 single-family homes and 83 townhouses in addition to apartments. The development resulted from a public-private partnership between Fairfax County, the Alexander Group and Elm Street Development

Thursday, January 11, 2018 - 10:00am

Cutting right to it: A ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the opening of the Microsoft Software & Systems Academy at Marine Corps Base Quantico on Monday. The release, picked up by Potomac Tech Wire, notes that it was the first of four scheduled MSSA launches on the East Coast in early 2018, completing Microsoft's goal to open in nine regions servicing 14 bases.

Thursday, January 11, 2018 - 9:59am

Toward a solution: TWD & Associates of Tysons Corner, providers of communication and collaboration technology, are working to develop a modernized customer relationship management tool for the Department of Homeland Security. Potomac Tech Wire carried the release, noting that implementation will apply agile SCRUM methodologies and cloud capabilities

FCEDA Commission Vice Chairman Esther C. Lee to become Virginia’s next secretary of commerce and trade

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Fairfax County, Virginia -- Virginia Governor-elect Ralph Northam announced that Esther Lee, vice chairman of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA) Commission, will join his administration as Secretary of Commerce and Trade.

Lee, appointed to the FCEDA Board by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in July 2016, will succeed Todd Haymore, who has served under Governor Terry McAuliffe.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018 - 9:52am

A Capitol idea: Fairfax County consultants help prevent air traffic from colliding with construction 

Construction cranes looming above Tysons Corner and Reston are a reminder of the building boom that's taking place in Fairfax County. In the airspace, just to the west, jetliners glide through the skies on their approach to Dulles International Airport.

So, who makes certain construction and flight patterns don't conflict?

Turns out that a homegrown company is one of only a handful of firms that helps ensure, both locally and globally, that skyward construction doesn't interfere with airline safety.

Capitol Airspace Group, located in the Fairfax County portion of Alexandria, is an aviation consulting firm that provides analytical and advocacy services for companies wanting to build tall things that could encroach on air traffic operations.

"We pride ourselves on our ability to assist airports and developers in striking a balance between the need for economic development and the preservation of the National Airspace System," says Capitol's founder and president Ben Doyle.

Doyle, a 1990 graduate of Annandale High School, didn't set out to become an expert in this field. While at West Virginia University and in the Marine Reserves, he thought he might become a pilot. When he joined the Army, he became an air traffic controller.

That's until he realized the need and commercial potential of a company that could measure with precision the potential impacts of structures in close proximity to airports or within flight paths.

The company's roots extend back to 1999, when Doyle built an airspace practice for Aviation Management Consultants Inc. of Alexandria. Ten years later, he bought out his former employer and launched Capitol Airspace.

"We started looking at airspace in a very different way from our competitors and pushed some out of the market," Doyle said. "Now, there are really only four companies in the country doing what we do."

In fact, Capitol Airspace is the only such company based north of Florida on the east coast and anywhere in the northern half of the U.S. Doyle views Capitol's proximity to the FAA, Department of Homeland Security, the Pentagon and other regulatory agencies as a major advantage. 

Doyle's company has produced more than 28,000 filings with the FAA and works on about 400 projects a year. It has consulted on everything from a 1,500-foot tower in Kansas (roughly equivalent to a 150-story building) to the landmark High Roller Ferris wheel on the Las Vegas Strip.

His firm has examined projects around small, general aviation airports and large ones like LAX and LaGuardia. And it's done work everywhere from Canada to Tel Aviv to Mumbai. It's not just skyscrapers that bring the business. Bridges, solar towers, transmission lines and wind turbines are other examples. Structures as short as 20 or 30 feet can create concern if they're close enough to the end of a runway.

"Wind turbines have been a boon to our business," Doyle says. "Unlike a building in downtown Miami that is tied to a city block, wind turbines can be moved around. Wind developers come to us and say: 'Tell me where I can build it.'"

Expansion created a dilemma for Doyle. In order to grow his company he needed to find employees with the right kind of knowledge. "We started by hiring veterans in the aviation industry," he said. "The problem was that they had a wealth of knowledge in the subject matter but very few skills when it came to the GIS (geographical information systems) technology. They knew how to fly but barely knew how to turn on a computer. Our candidates coming right out of college were savvy on the technology side, but we had to teach them everything on the aviation side." 

To meet the demand, Doyle implemented an internship program, primarily relying on his connections at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida. Six of his 12 current employees began as interns and Capitol Airspace plans to run its intern program again this summer, seeking additional post graduates.

"If we were in a law firm or an accounting firm, I could put an advertisement out and have a lawyer working full-time tomorrow," he says. "But there is no one that's trained for this kind of work outside of the federal government. Every new employee is essentially an apprentice for two or three years until they really know what they're doing. We've got to teach them and make sure they understand it."

Doyle takes pride in going the extra mile to reward and retain those he's trained.

"Our young people are very well paid," he says. "We wanted to create something that would enable people to live their lives and still be able to retire by (age) 50 if they choose. The culture here is very important to me. We want them to spread their wings. Our whole environment has been about creating a workplace where people want to go to work -- and I think it's worked. We have an incredibly dedicated staff. Sometimes I have to walk around and tell people to go home."

Doyle, whose firm also offers flight procedure optimization and glint-and-glare studies, admits there's a degree of enjoyment, being able to "shine" as a "big fish" in a small pond of consultants.

"What we do is so specialized that it's a lot of fun to work in this space with our level of expertise," he says. "When you walk into a hearing and speak with members of a city council or county board and you know that you're the only one in the room who knows anything about what you're talking about, there is a cool factor to that."

Capitol Airspace Group is located at 5400 Shawnee Road, Suite 304, Alexandria, VA 22312.  703-256-2485;  

Tuesday, January 9, 2018 - 10:26am

Now hear this: This morning's FCEDA's Entrepreneurship 101 Workshop, postponed due to icy conditions in accordance with our inclement weather policy, has been rescheduled for Tuesday, January 23. Space is still available on a limited basis for the new date by clicking here. Next month's workshop remains scheduled for February 6.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018 - 10:25am

Extending life in space: Tysons Corner-based Intelsat has ordered a second Mission Extension Vehicle from Orbital ATK. Orbital, in the process of being acquired by Northrop Grumman in a $7.8 billion deal, is planning to establish a fleet of the sophisticated orbiting space vehicles to fill a range of logistic needs including repairs and refueling. Robert J. Terry of the Washington Business Journal reports that each MEV is designed to have a 15-year life span, enabling it to perform multiple dockings and repositionings.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018 - 10:25am

Ghost of a chance: VIDI Space, a new online network based in Vienna, made its debut on Monday with The Haunted Space, a network at which members can watch and interact with personalities focusing on the occult, paranormal and other oddities. VIDI Space plans to expand its programming to include science fiction, UFO, music, travel and other adventure networks, offering subscription and a la carte options. According to the release picked up by Potomac Tech Wire, content will eventually be available through mobile devices as well as Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire TV applications.

U.K. Lawmakers Want To Battle Waste With A 'Latte Levy' On Disposable Cups

Wednesday, January 17, 2018 - 5:16pm
A grande Cafe Nero, large Costa Coffee and venti-sized Starbucks to-go cups sold in London. The U.K. Parliament is considering a tax on disposable cups in an effort to cut down on waste.

The British Parliament is considering a 34-cent tax on to-go cups to encourage diners to bring their own reusable containers. The goal is to replicate the success of Britain's tax on plastic bags.

(Image credit: Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images)

Apple Says It Will Create 20,000 Jobs With New Campus

Wednesday, January 17, 2018 - 4:16pm

Apple says it will build a new campus and create 20,000 new jobs as part of a sweeping investment plan for the U.S.

Saudi Arabia After Oil: An IPO, Tech Jobs, and Yanni

Wednesday, January 17, 2018 - 4:06pm

The young crown prince is trying to figure out how to save his country before the money runs out.

(Image credit: NPR)

Like Florida, Maryland Wants To Be Exempt From Offshore Drilling

Wednesday, January 17, 2018 - 5:03am

Now that the Trump administration has excluded Florida from its offshore drilling proposal, other places want the same. They're making their case as the public comment period gets underway.

Turning Soybeans Into Diesel Fuel Is Costing Us Billions

Tuesday, January 16, 2018 - 5:43pm
An engineer shows a sample of biodiesel at an industrial complex in General Lagos, Santa Fe province, Argentina. The United States recently imposed duties on Argentine biodiesel, blocking it from the U.S. market.

The law that requires America to turn some of its soybeans into diesel fuel for trucks has created a new industry. But it's costing American consumers about $5 billion each year.

(Image credit: Eitan Abramovich/AFP/Getty Images)

Toyota Announces Makeover Of Its Flagship Car

Tuesday, January 16, 2018 - 4:34pm

Toyota is investing in a major makeover of its Avalon sedan. It's an interesting choice because Americans are bypassing sedans in favor of SUVs. And while the Avalon is reliable, its styling is considered stodgy, at best.

How The Convenience Economy Has Led To Clutter In Urban China

Tuesday, January 16, 2018 - 4:34pm

The advent of shared bikes and food delivery service apps have led to an unprecedented amount of clutter on the sidewalks of China's largest city. Where pedestrians once walked freely, they now have to compete with speeding electric scooters belonging to armies of food delivery men along limited sidewalk space due to heaps of shared bicycles strewn about.

BlackRock CEO Says Companies Need To Do More Than Deliver Profits

Tuesday, January 16, 2018 - 4:34pm

Laurence Fink, CEO of the investment firm BlackRock, is telling other CEOs they need to do more than just deliver profits. In a letter published by The New York Times, Fink says companies must show how they are making positive contributions to society.

The Case For Earmarks

Tuesday, January 16, 2018 - 4:01pm

Congressional earmarks have a bad reputation. But, our guest argues, they're just what America needs.

(Image credit: NPR)

LinkedIn Co-Founder On What Resolutions Silicon Valley Should Make For 2018

Monday, January 15, 2018 - 4:19pm

Between sexual harassment scandals, fake ads and stronger calls for regulation, Big Tech had a rocky year in 2017. LinkedIn Co-founder and venture capitalist Reid Hoffman talks with NPR's Kelly McEvers about resolutions Silicon Valley should make in 2018.

Jakarta Stock Exchange Tower Evacuated After Floor Collapses

Monday, January 15, 2018 - 7:30am
Indonesian security stand near the ruin of a structure inside the Jakarta Stock Exchange tower in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Monday.

A mezzanine floor inside the Jakarta Stock Exchange tower collapsed on Monday, according to Indonesian authorities. A police spokesman says nearly 80 people were injured. Terrorism has been ruled out.

(Image credit: AP)

For 1 Attorney, A Lonely Legal Fight To Make Trump Comply With Rules

Monday, January 15, 2018 - 5:00am
Washington, D.C., attorney Jeffrey Lovitky has taken it upon himself to sue President Trump.

Attorney Jeffrey Lovitky took it upon himself last year to sue Trump. "It is intimidating," he says. Still, he's suing again, saying he has a duty to push for compliance with various ethics rules.

(Image credit: Peter Overby/NPR)

Wave Of Capitalist Optimism Sweeps Across Paris

Monday, January 15, 2018 - 4:57am
Station F, a massive startup incubator in Paris, gathers a whole entrepreneurial ecosystem under one roof.

The French president hopes his changes to labor laws and other initiatives will change the anti-business climate. Paris has launched a business hub for startups.

(Image credit: Bertrand Guay/Pool Photo via AP)

Wave Of Capitalist Optimism Sweeps Across France

Monday, January 15, 2018 - 4:57am

The French president hopes his changes to labor laws and other initiatives will change the anti-business climate. Paris has launched a business hub for start-ups.

After A Year In Office, Questions About Trump's Foreign Deals Go On. And On

Monday, January 15, 2018 - 4:56am
In the Philippines, an advertisement for Manila

When preparing to take the oath of office, President Trump promised to make no new foreign business deals. But a year later, ethics experts say the problems have not been solved in any meaningful way.

(Image credit: Jay Directo/AFP/Getty Images)

The GOP's New Tax Plan Will Affect Everyone, But Will It Grow The Economy?

Sunday, January 14, 2018 - 7:00am
President Trump signs the $1.5 trillion tax overhaul package into law on Dec. 22.

You asked, we answered: Will the GOP tax plan boost economic growth? Not much (if at all), say many economists.

(Image credit: The Washington Post/Getty Images)