Arlington, VA
Jean Borno, CEO of Arlington’s 1787fp, attends the Collision conference with Arlington Economic Development in 2018.

This article was written by Alex Taylor, Senior Business Development Manager for Arlington Economic Development.

The Collision conference is one of North America’s fastest growing technology conferences, featuring hundreds of early-stage companies and over one-thousand investors.

The conference historically connects those early-stage, fast-growing companies to the capital and resources needed to accelerate growth and succeed in innovative sectors like AI, Cybersecurity and Fintech.

Arlington Economic Development (AED) attended Collision the last four years and brought a handful of Arlington’s most innovative companies to showcase the community’s growing tech economy. In “normal” times, promoting Arlington and its companies to a global audience through conferences and tradeshows was essential to attracting fast-growing companies and creating investment opportunities for Arlington’s existing companies.

Now, in these not-so-normal times, promotional opportunities benefitting our companies are going to be critical in stabilizing our economy and ensuring that our tech sector continues its growth in the face of historic economic challenges.

This year, Collision was scheduled to be held in Toronto, but due to COVID-19 the conference, “Collision from Home” was moved online for the first time. AED partnered with our neighboring regional economic development offices to adapt to the virtual format consisting of a three-day event beginning on June 23.

Arlington will “bring” three companies as part of the Northern Virginia cohort that includes Fairfax and Prince Williams Counties and the City of Alexandria. Arlington cybersecurity firms, Fend and HyperQube and training company, NextUp Solutions, will join hundreds of other like-minded companies taking advantage of the virtual format to make connections, meet investors and learn from some of the world’s top thought leaders.

With a growing private sector bolstering our federal government anchors, the Arlington economy is faring better than many, but we cannot rest on our laurels. Arlington must take advantage of new and innovative ways to market our community as a place to do businesses and ensure that our companies are primed to accelerate their growth as we move into a post-COVID recovery phase.

The Collision from Home conference will feature intimate face-to-face meetings, custom group discussion lounges, one-on-one investor meetings, company pitches, as well as hundreds of panels and discussions for attendees to digest.

To follow along as AED, Fend Tech, HyperQube and NextUp Solutions tackle the Collision from Home conference this week, check out @AEDBizInvest on Twitter.

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This article was written by Sindy Yeh, Senior Business Ambassador for Arlington Economic Development.

In the unprecedented time of COVID-19, people are recognizing the sacrifices and dedication of frontline workers in the healthcare industry, public safety and emergency management.

These essential workers are embraced worldwide as true heroes in the public battle to withstand the dangers of this virus and have been venerated for their tireless effort and service to the community.

Arlington is unique in having many business and trade associations whose members are deemed essential and are on the frontlines of the pandemic. These members are located throughout the entire country and even overseas. The associations serve their members by providing advocacy, education, professional development, resources and member best practices. They advocate for members at the federal, state and local levels, and oftentimes their recommended policies have national implications. Arlington salutes these organizations and their members for their service.

The supermarket industry has been one of the most critically important sectors during the pandemic. With thousands of restaurants being forced to close, grocery stores have remained open to ensure food and essentials are available to homes around the country. Grocery workers labor long hours to make certain that store shelves are stocked and facilities are sanitized; and these days, their job includes enforcing social distancing rules.

Two national associations headquartered in Arlington represent the food distribution industry. Ballston-based National Grocers Association represents independent, privately-owned stores; and the Food Marketing Institute, headquartered in Crystal City, includes members from grocery stores to producers who supply the food. Their members are part of the nation’s critical infrastructure during the pandemic, and without a doubt, they have risen to the occasion.

Another organization whose members are on the front lines of the pandemic is the American Trucking Associations (ATA). Headquartered in Ballston, ATA is the largest national trade association representing the trucking industry with more than 37,000 members and affiliates in all 50 states. ATA members continue to haul billions of tons of freight across the country, helping drive the nation’s economy.

Pharmacists throughout the country also play a pivotal role in this crisis. They are adapting to social distancing guidelines while still making sure that every patient has the medication he or she needs. Courthouse-based National Association of Chain Drug Stores represents traditional drug stores, supermarkets and mass merchants with pharmacies. Chains operate nearly 40,000 pharmacies across the country.

With the recent federal guidelines allowing pharmacists to order and administer tests for COVID-19, pharmacists are at the forefront in the fight against the pandemic.

One of the professions that most exemplifies dedication and sacrifice in the face of COVID-19 is the healthcare industry. People around the world applaud health care workers’ unparalleled bravery, compassion and commitment to their profession. In normal times, nurses provide medical advice and care for their patients.

Now, nurses have to suit up each day just to go to work, often times putting their own health in peril, in order to care for their patients. The American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) is the largest professional membership organization for nurse practitioners. AANP’s government affairs office operates out of Crystal City, advocating for policies and legislation that serve AANP’s 107,000 members nationwide.

We appreciate the work these and are many other associations are doing, and we are honored they chose Arlington to call home.

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This article was written by Sindy Yeh, Senior Business Ambassador for Arlington Economic Development.

May is Business Appreciation Month, and now more than ever, it seems appropriate to highlight and thank the many Arlington businesses that are making our community and the world a better place in the wake of COVID-19.

From diligently working to stop the spread of the virus to providing online tools to mitigate disruptions, Arlington companies are leveraging their knowledge and technology platforms to make a difference during this unprecedented time.

Stopping the Spread of the Virus

For decades, DARPA has been at the forefront of research and investment in innovation. Accordingly, DARPA is funding multiple projects to combat the virus. Currently, scientists are working to design a new COVID-19 blood-based test that could identify carriers before they become infectious, as well as an antibody treatment to combat the virus until a vaccine is ready.

As experts warn of a second coronavirus wave in the fall, DARPA is partnering with pharmaceutical companies and universities to develop treatments quickly.

Zansors, an Arlington-based health analytics startup, is normally marketing its wearable sensors. Recognizing the increased demand for face masks, Zansors redirected its efforts to focus on its washable face covering masks.

One of its masks, the Micro-Shield, has recently been authorized by the FDA for use by health care personnel and the general public as a source control to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection and illness. Baabi Das, co-founder of Zansors, states that the Micro-Shield face masks have gained traction and are now used by the U.S. Army and Air Force warfighters.

Blue Raster, Courthouse based web mapping company, has been assisting government agencies by providing COVID tracking dashboards over the past month. For the states of Virginia and Nevada, the company built a geospatially focused platform providing county level data on active COVID cases and fatalities, as well as number of beds in hospitals. This allows state officials to view and assess the current situation, guiding informed decision-making.

Providing Virtual Learning Tools

School administrators and educators have been grappling with the challenges associated with school closures and delivering a remote learning curriculum. Several of Arlington’s leading education technology companies have offered online tools to improve the at-home learning process.

Hobsons, based in Clarendon, focuses on connecting students to opportunities in education. Its college and career readiness software offers academic planning, career exploration and college prep tools for high schools, including Arlington Public Schools. Pivoting to serve students who are now at home, Hobsons has created instruction guides designed to help students navigate its education platforms on their own reducing support required by school staff.

Rosetta Stone, a pioneer in language learning, has recently provided all K-12 customers with an unlimited license to its literacy products in response to COVID. Schools that have purchased digital reading and literacy tools can now extend their software license to all students.

Brazen hosts a virtual career fair platform allowing universities to host job fairs online. In April, Brazen offered Marymount University the opportunity to use its platform free of charge to connect companies with Marymount students looking for internships.

More than 85 students registered to meet with 15 companies. As Ed Barrientos, CEO of Brazen, commented, “Brazen is in a lucky position of having technology that helps organizations bring their events online, so demand is high right now. We are pleased to donate the use of the platform to Marymount, our Arlington neighbor.”

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This article was written by Telly Tucker, Director of Arlington Economic Development.

We’re now in the sixth week of various shutdowns, teleworking, staff reductions and other challenges in Arlington as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Arlington Economic Development (AED) has been closely monitoring the effects on all our businesses.

In the latter half of March, just as the gravity of the situation was beginning to emerge, we conducted our first COVID-19 business survey. We had more than 600 businesses take the survey, which concluded on March 30 — coincidentally, the day before the April 1 Stay at Home Executive Order took effect in Virginia.

But even before that order was in place, it came as no surprise for us to learn that Arlington businesses were impacted — some significantly. Overall, the majority of our business respondents reported declining sales, hiring freezes, supply chain disruptions and delayed or canceled investments, with a considerable number having laid off workers as a result of the pandemic.

More than 70% of all Arlington businesses, and more than 90% of small businesses (those with fewer than 50 employees), said COVID-19 was “extremely disruptive” or “very disruptive” to their business operations. Additional details on survey results can be found on our website.

Across the varied results, the most pressing need respondents identified was financial assistance, everything from grant assistance to SBA economic injury assistance, tax payment assistance to landlord assistance. Remember — these results were even prior to the Stay at Home order. AED has been working diligently to connect companies to resources while working to develop some of our own.

Last week we announced the creation of the Arlington Small Business Emergency GRANT (Giving Resiliency Assets Near Term) Program, which will provide up to $10K in funds for businesses who need to keep up with payroll, rent and other expenses during the pandemic. We plan to have the application process open in early May; to receive future communications as details about the GRANT program are finalized, please add yourself to the mailing list on our GRANT page.

Additionally, we set up a COVID-19 Business Support section on our website, which covers everything from lists of restaurants providing carryout/delivery options to special offers from local businesses. We’re also providing the latest breakdowns on CARES Act and SBA actions as well as free webinars and counseling for businesses to help them navigate the various assistance programs and resources out there.

Finally, AED has just launched Phase 2 of the COVID-19 Arlington business survey. Each week brings new challenges and we understand the importance of keeping up-to-date on the impacts being felt by our community.

If you represent a business in Arlington, please take a few moments to complete this new survey in English or Spanish so AED can continue to assist you. The survey will remain active through April 30. Some of the questions may seem repetitive if you took our first survey, but we ask for your participation to help us continue to monitor the situation and aid us in developing appropriate resources and communications.

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This article was written by Telly Tucker, Director of Arlington Economic Development.

These are unprecedented times. Like so many other communities, Arlington is working through the effects and global impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Arlington Economic Development, a division within the Arlington County Government, is continuing to update and support the local business community throughout this pandemic and is following the lead of local and state authorities. Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has now issued a Stay at Home order in response to the spread of the coronavirus and has prohibited people from gathering in groups of more than 10 people.

Under the direction of the Governor, Arlington restaurants have closed their dining rooms, and quite a few are providing meals on a takeout basis. Other businesses, such as gyms, theaters and shopping malls have closed as well.

The Governor has asked that people stay home unless it’s essential that they go out. However, there are many ways we can all support the Arlington business community. You can see a list of Arlington businesses offering specials and online ordering/curbside delivery options on our website.

For the business community, and especially our small business community, this situation can be devastating, if not catastrophic. More than 90% of Arlington County businesses employ 50 people or fewer, and some have already had to make very difficult decisions when it comes to employees.

We at Arlington Economic Development are reviewing the newly enacted federal CARES Act legislation to better understand how our local businesses can take advantage of this stimulus. We are also keeping track of other resources at the state and federal levels designed to help our business community weather this global situation.

Locally, the Arlington County Treasurer will not impose penalty and interest for those affected by COVID-19 for tax due dates between now and April 30. We are also collaborating with our regional partners in the NOVA EDA to study the short and long term economic impact of coronavirus. We will be sharing those results once the study is complete.

Arlington is a resilient community. We have weathered hardships before and learned the lessons to come out even stronger on the other side. But to echo the thoughts of Governor Northam, we must work together to do so. We will continue to share available resources with our business community.

In the meantime, we ask all of you to make responsible decisions for the health and welfare for yourselves, your employees and your neighbors in Arlington.

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Photo via David Hills

This article was written by Alex Taylor, Senior Business Development Manager for Arlington Economic Development.

Arlington Economic Development has many evolving strategies to attract business to the County, but one consistent piece is cultivating our partnership with the commercial real estate community.

In February, we hosted the first Broker Breakfast, a series of events that will occur over the coming months and will focus on synchronizing messaging to enhance our efforts to bring business to our commercial corridors.

Companies looking to expand into a new market often rely heavily on real estate experts to be the front door into the locations that best suit their needs. Whether it’s a new gym, rooftop employee lounges or just easy access to metro, there are dozens of factors that can drive a real estate decision within a building itself. And while buildings are important, the key drivers for most of these decisions boil down to one thing: attracting and retaining a quality workforce.

Workforce is currency that every tenant in the market is working to leverage. A highly-educated and reliable workforce is pivotal for business success and overall economic growth. Arlington is fortunate enough to sit at the center of the second largest tech talent pool in the U.S., and our universities are near the top of every ranking in the country for graduating technology and professional degrees.

The smartest and hardest working employees reside here, and the future workforce will be here as well. The Commonwealth’s $1.1 billion investment in the Tech Talent Pipeline is set to create nearly 31,000 tech degrees in the next two decades between Virginia Tech in Alexandria and George Mason in Arlington.

The County’s public infrastructure, built environment and overall quality of life are huge draws for companies and their employees. Arlington is the model for urban-suburban development, a product of smart planning during the 1960’s and 70’s as Metro began expanding into the suburbs, a decision that has paid dividends ever since.

There are many factors that lead to a high quality of life, but the ones at the top of the list typically involve easy walkability, quality transit, access to amenities, high quality of life and a strong public education system — all things that Arlington has in abundance, and all important factors for workers when choosing where to live and work.

Quality environment, product and workforce are true drivers of real estate decisions on the commercial side. Fortunately, Arlington, along with the rest of the region, is very well positioned in these areas as well. Amazon, Nestlé, Lidl and dozens of other small and medium-sized businesses have had success in our market due to these features.

While many companies have struck gold here in Arlington, not all companies in the U.S. know these stories and statistics. It is our job to help relay these themes, but we are a small staff with limited resources. We must maximize and leverage our partners in the real estate industry at every opportunity.

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This article was written by Michael Stiefvater, Business Development Manager for Arlington Economic Development.

With hundreds of innovative companies and a 100,000-plus strong workforce, it is of little surprise that Startup Genome gave the Washington D.C. region a top-three global ranking for its cybersecurity ecosystem.

Arlington is a significant contributor to this ecosystem with more than 30,000 cybersecurity jobs between the federal workforce and private companies. While the Department of Defense and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency account for a substantial share of those positions, the County is also home to more than 200 companies that are developing innovative solutions to cyber vulnerabilities, one of the largest issues facing the modern world.

To honor the impressive contributions from several of these entrepreneurs to the area’s cyber community, regional media group DCA Live kicked off its 2020 event schedule with a Red Hot Cyber celebration at Ballston’s Marymount University campus on January 29. Arlington was well represented at the event, with the following companies receiving awards:

DeepSig (Rosslyn)

DeepSig is a venture-backed startup pioneering the application of deep learning to reinvent wireless communications. The company’s software replaces core wireless technology with deep learning, which results in communication systems that are faster, more cost efficient and secure, and able to excel in complex environments. DeepSig landed $1.5 million in seed funding in 2018 and currently employs nearly 20 people.

HyperQube (Ballston)

HyperQube enables companies to quickly and easily build an exact copy of any infrastructure or network to determine how the connected environment responds to changes caused by software updates, new technologies and unplanned events such as outages or cyberattacks. Founded in 2018, the company is set for significant growth in the new year as it expects to add customers and close on a new round of funding, which will translate into the hiring of up to 20 new employees.

Ostendio (Rosslyn)

Ostendio’s leading product, MyVCM, is an Integrated Risk Management Platform for small and midsize organizations who need to demonstrate compliance to security standards. The platform’s unique bottom-up security approach allows organizations to easily report their security posture to internal and external stakeholders. The company moved to a larger office in Rosslyn last July to accommodate its growing team of nearly 25 employees.

ThreatConnect (Ballston)

ThreatConnect provides industry-leading advanced threat intelligence software and services to effectively aggregate, analyze and act to counter sophisticated cyberattacks. In 2019 the company’s impressive revenue growth earned it a spot on the prestigious Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing companies in the U.S. ThreatConnect was also recognized as one of the Best Places to Work in Virginia.

SCYTHE (Crystal City)

SCYTHE is a developer of an information security platform designed to prevent breaches and attacks from various cyber threats by providing continuous simulations that give organizations real-time understanding of where their defenses stack up to current and future threats to the enterprise. SCYTHE landed $3 million in initial financing in 2018 and currently employs more than 20 people.

Shift5 (Rosslyn)

Shift5 develops hardware and software systems intended to defend weapon systems, air platforms and commercial transportation systems. The company’s cybersecurity solutions and features include intrusion detection and prevention against hacks on internal data bus networks. Founded by three former U.S. Army officers, Shift5 raised $2.5 million in venture funding in 2019 and employs nearly 15 people.

Congratulations to all the honorees, who are excellent representatives of Arlington’s thriving cybersecurity industry!

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This article was sponsored by Arlington Economic Development‘s Business Investment Group.

The walls are still relatively bare in Telly Tucker’s new office at Arlington Economic Development.

While he may not have moved many personal mementos in yet, he’s not wasting any time getting started as the department’s new director. The Lynchburg, Virginia native began in the position in mid-January, and he’s already meeting with commissioners, stakeholders and business owners in an effort to learn just what the talk is out there about his new home.

“I really want this to be a collaborative effort right from the beginning,” he says. “I’m a collaborator and communicator by nature. I want to be in constant contact with my staff, my stakeholders and my community to determine how we raise the collective tide for all of Arlington’s businesses.”

Tucker joined Arlington Economic Development after most recently serving as the Director of Economic Development for Danville, Virginia, where he managed a multifaceted economic development strategy that brought investment and many new jobs to the southern Virginia region.

Prior to his position in Danville, Tucker served as the Assistant Director of Economic Development in James City County, Virginia, Program Administrator for the Virginia Department of Housing & Community Development, as well as an Economic Development Specialist for the City of Lynchburg, Virginia.

Tucker is tasked with navigating Arlington’s economic community as the “post HQ2 chapter” emerges. The 2018 announcement of Amazon’s new headquarters coming to Arlington put the community on the map, not just nationally, but globally. In addition to that work, Tucker says another of his major goals is working with Arlington’s existing businesses to ensure we’re responding to their needs and concerns.

“We need to make sure that Arlington’s business core remains strong — that we continue to support small business, in community-building, and ensuring that the values we as Arlingtonians cherish remain true,” he says. “I’m truly humbled that County leadership has entrusted me to lead the department for this new and exciting chapter of Arlington’s economic development.”

Tucker plans to “keep an attentive ear to the community” in his first few months leading AED. He plans to meet with staff, small business owners, and community leaders, among others, to get a pulse on the community and its thoughts on Arlington’s business climate. He also cites continued collaboration with regional jurisdictions as part of the new Northern Virginia Economic Development Alliance to ensure the region has a strong voice nationally and globally.

“There are so many truly great things happening in Arlington,” he says. “I want to continue to build on what’s been done to make sure Arlington’s leadership in the innovation economy is sustained.”

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Photo via David Hills

This article was sponsored by Arlington Economic Development‘s Business Investment Group.

2019 proved to be another exciting year for Arlington Economic Development (AED) as it continued its efforts to diversify and strengthen the County’s economy.

AED assisted in recruiting and retaining economic development projects equating to 850,000 square feet of office space, excluding the Amazon HQ2 project, which represents the leasing of more than 6 million square feet of office space over the next 15 years.

“We are proud of all we’ve accomplished in 2019. From working with prospects across diverse sectors and providing assistance to over 150 Arlington businesses, this year has been one of exciting progress following our 2018 Amazon HQ2 win,” said Marian Marquez, the newly named Director of Business Investment for Arlington Economic Development. “We are kicking off 2020 with incredible momentum — while our commercial vacancy rate is the lowest we’ve seen in seven years, we have plenty of work cut out for us in keeping up the momentum and are highly focused on continuing to provide the services and support that our existing business community needs to thrive.”

2019 Arlington Economic Development Highlights

Amazon

Amazon’s Arlington headquarters, which will create a minimum of 25,000 high-paying jobs in Arlington over the next 15 years, began to take shape in 2019. The County Board approved the project’s performance-based incentive package in March, the company began moving into its initial buildings in Crystal City, and the County Board approved for the company to build its twin 22-story headquarters in Pentagon City.

Yext

New York-based technology company Yext announced it would locate its new 43,000 square foot office in Rosslyn and will create 500 new high-paying technology jobs. The company’s CEO cited the area’s technology talent as being one of the key factors for choosing Arlington.

Block.one

In September, Hong Kong-based blockchain company Block.one announced its decision to locate its US headquarters in Arlington. The company’s central office will create 170 new jobs over a period of three years and occupy 47,000 square feet in Rosslyn.

Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)

After a competitive site selection process, PBS decided to remain in Crystal City and signed a 15-year, 120,000 square foot lease at 1225 S. Clark Street. PBS is one of Arlington’s most prominent corporate brands and is one of the most well-known and trusted institutions in the U.S  The company is an important anchor in Crystal City and a major draw for Arlington’s creative economy and media industries.

Nestlé USA

Nestlé USA announced that it will continue to expand at 1812 N. Moore Street in Rosslyn. Nestlé and sister company Gerber now occupy a total of 300,000 square feet of space — 95,000 square feet more than its original footprint announced in 2017.

Patent & Trademark Office

In October, the County learned that the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (PTO) renewed its lease for another 15 years at 2800 S. Randolph Street in Shirlington, expanding from 168,000 square feet to 191,000 square feet. The retention of PTO is a major success in Arlington’s strategy to retain its federal leases and ensures that PTO employees will continue to support neighborhood businesses for years to come.

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Winners of the Arlington Fast Four competition

This article was sponsored by Arlington Economic Development‘s Business Investment Group.

For the fifth year in a row, Arlington Economic Development honored the winners of its fastest-growing companies competition — known as the Arlington Fast Four.

The winners were formally announced and recognized at the Arlington Premiere event held on December 5 at the Ballston Quarter. The Arlington Premiere is a biannual event welcoming new businesses to Arlington. Close to 200 business leaders attended the December reception along with County officials, partner organizations, like the Arlington Chamber of Commerce and the Ballston Business Improvement District.

Award nominees were privately-held companies that showcased sound revenue growth in 2016, 2017 and 2018. Applicants were required to provide income statements to show proof of growth and revenue. The competition recognized companies within four categories of revenue, spanning from $500,000 to $25 million and above per year.

The 2019 Fast Four Winners are:

$500k-$1.5M: Deft Consulting (Clarendon)

Deft Consulting is a software services firm specializing in Appian low-code implementations. Deft was founded in 2016 by a former Appian Corporation employee, Scott Frantz, and the company has become a highly regarded official partner of Appian Corporation. Founders say that Arlington County’s resources, specifically those of AED, and the Arlington Chamber of Commerce have been extremely helpful in facilitating the business’s learning and growth as a small business.

$1.5M-$5M: Hungry Marketplace (Rosslyn)

Hungry Marketplace is a food-tech catering company that offers a mobile and online food platform connecting professional chefs to customers. The company will also deliver the fresh food from these chefs to customers. Started in 2016, Hungry expanded rapidly from the Washington area to Philadelphia, Atlanta and recently to Boston.

Hungry has deep roots in Arlington. Some of the founders live here and have founded several other Arlington-based companies such as Buysafe and Livesafe.

$5M-$25M: Capitol Bridge (Columbia Pike)

Founded in 2012, Capitol Bridge is an Arlington, Virginia-based SBA 8(a) business providing data and record management services, independent medical reviews, medical coding and administrative staffing. With offices in Arlington; Pittsford, New York; and Indianapolis, Indiana, Capitol Bridge has strategically developed its geographic footprint allowing it to be near its customers.

Capitol Bridge has served a wide variety of customers, including the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Arlington National Cemetery, the Federal Aviation Administration and other government agencies at both a federal and state level.

$25M+: Higher Logic (Rosslyn)

Higher Logic is an industry leader in cloud-based engagement platforms. Its data-driven approach gives organizations an expanded suite of engagement capabilities, including online community and marketing automation. Organizations worldwide use Higher Logic’s software platform to bring people together by giving their community a home to interact, share ideas, answer questions and stay connected.

Higher Logic also has strong connections to Arlington. The company started out in a small office on Lee Highway, then moved to the Rosslyn/Courthouse area and are now located in a large office on N. Lynn Street in Rosslyn with beautiful views of the river.

Congratulations to all the winners!

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Winners of Culpepper Garden’s Innovation in Healthy Aging Challenge

This article was sponsored by Arlington Economic Development‘s Business Investment Group.

Culpepper Garden, a nonprofit, affordable housing community for older adults, is looking for ways to help its residents and other Arlingtonians benefit from technology and innovation.

Earlier this month, Culpepper Garden held its first Innovation in Healthy Aging Challenge. The organization established this program through a grant from Arlington County focused on addressing the “Digital Divide,” which limits low-income residents’ access to and benefits from innovative technologies.

“We were overwhelmed by the number of innovative companies who applied for the Challenge,” stated Linda Kelleher, Executive Director of Culpepper Garden. “The impressive awardees were selected from robotics, telehealth and virtual reality companies from around the country.”

As part of the challenge, startup technology companies were invited to apply and showcase their products and services and their benefits to seniors and those choosing to age in place here in Arlington.

A panel of judges, including Arlington County officials, health care providers, tech company CEOs, technology developers, venture capitalists, academic representatives and Culpepper Garden residents, selected finalists and awardees based on online applications. Finalists then presented their products at a “Pitch Day” style presentation held at Arlington Economic Development.

“Our job as judges was difficult, as we received a number of incredible applications and innovative approaches. We made sure to focus on companies and technologies that would directly impact the health, connectivity, and needs of low-income senior citizens,” explained judge, Peter Kant, Culpepper Garden Board Member and a technology company executive.

The three awardees are:

INF Robotics — RUDY™ is a fully autonomous interactive robot that directly interacts with senior citizens to improve mobility, engagement and health.

Luna Lights — Provides innovative fall prevention and lighting technology helping prevent falls and quickly alert care givers when users need assistance.

Viva Vita — Brings virtual reality experiences to retirement communities for engaging experiences that promote brain health and community fellowship in a convenient and affordable service package.

The three awardees were selected from seven finalists that made it through the initial application evaluations. A homegrown Arlington company, Zansors, whose product allows seniors to easily monitor breathing patterns, was included amongst the finalists.

Awardees will each receive $12,000 in grant funding and will be implementing pilot programs at Culpepper Garden starting in 2020. Culpepper Garden will be evaluating the impact of these pilot programs and reporting to Arlington.

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