Big enough to change the world, nimble enough to do it now
Following a merger in summer 2016, much of the talk surrounding the "new" Leidos involved scale—the sheer size of the organization. But inside the company, employees are focused on a different kind of increased scale—innovation.
"We have twice as many employees now and see each one of them as an innovator," says John Fratamico, Chief Technology Officer at Leidos. "We’re looking to them to solve the perils facing this world and support our customers in their critical missions."
Critical missions like
- PROTECTING $1.8 trillion of maritime commerce. Leidos developed a semi-autonomous 130-foot ship, Sea Hunter, to track a new class of cheap, virtually silent submarines. Sea Hunter can be at sea for months, helping keep shipping lanes and shores safe, without a single sailor on board.
- DEVELOPING new vaccine candidates for malaria, Zika, HIV and other diseases using a “virtual pharma” approach for customers. Leidos drafts a vaccine project and brings together commercial biotech and university labs to create new vaccines for clinical trials.
- KEEPING air travel safe and efficient. The number of people using the civil aviation system is set to double within 10 years. Leidos is helping airports enhance the travel experience, optimize terminals, and protect against unidentified threats—like drones—in their airspace.
- PREVENTING dangerous cargo and contraband from crossing borders without slowing down commerce. Leidos invented VACIS, a real-time, full-vehicle scanning system to speed inspection and increase security at border crossings —monitoring U.S. ports with 1,200 radiation portals.
For example, Sea Hunter’s autonomy is based in part on technology from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) developed for the Mars Exploration Rover. Leidos tapped into this innovative work to minimize the coding and development work required to design Sea Hunter.
Leidos provides enterprise IT solutions for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
To keep more innovation in the pipeline, Leidos focuses on empowering its employees to bring new ideas forward.
"We want our employees to experiment and take managed risks," Fratamico said. "Our leadership team encourages it, allows fast-failure and provides resources for it."
Resources include the use of concepts like internal crowdsourcing and ideation. Leidos conducts regular R&D contests, for example, where employees can win up to $50,000 in seed money to explore new ideas.
"It’s really energized our technical workforce," Fratamico said. "Our employees are people that are looking for the next big solution. They want to save lives. They want to make a difference, and they want to have an impact. It’s our job to give them those opportunities and the resources they need to get it done."