Iverson Technology Corp., a McLean firm that modifies computer and peripheral equipment to conform with government security standards, last week announced plans to open its first research and development laboratory.

ITC said it has leased 5,600 square feet on Beverly Road in McLean across from its headquarters for its new "Tempest" computer security R&D facility. It said it has assembled a group of engineers, technicians and software developers to staff it.

The company said the purpose of opening the facility is to improve its capability of winning larger government contracts.

ITC, which has tripled in size over the last year, to $17 million in revenue, gradually will begin performing its own R&D while phasing out R&D contracts with outside firms. The initial investment of more than $1 million for the new facility will obviate the need for farming out about $100,000 a month to outside companies, according to ITC President Donald D. Iverson.

Iverson, a former executive of International Business Machines Corp. and General Electric Corp., said the new laboratory completes one phase of the growth plan begun in July when the company made its first public stock offering. The offering, he said, was partially to raise capital for the new facility.

Since the initial offering, ITC stock has taken off. After an opening price of $8 per share, the stock was selling in the $17 range last week.

Iverson also claims his company is one of the most profitable small high-tech companies within the Capital Beltway, with profits that equal 10.6 pecent of revenue.

Iverson said his firm hired six people last week, bringing the number of employes of the new facility to 16. Iverson employs about 40 people in the area.

The firm also announced an expansion of its modification and production center in Clearwater, Fla.

Craft Machine Works Inc. in Hampton, Va., has landed a $75 million Navy contract to design and build 23 large, portable cranes for Navy shipyards, the Associated Press reported.

Jake Schrum, the firm's president, and Rep. Herbert Bateman (R-Va.) jointly announced the contract award Saturday at the firm's plant. The contract, one that was reserved for small businesses, is the largest ever for the Hampton company.

The 60-ton cranes will feature advanced heavy-lift technology, Schrum said.

Atlantic Research Corp. in Alexandria has been awarded a patent for a process that Congress says may have a significant influence in reducing environmental pollution.

The patent was awarded for the development of a unique microorganism that removes much of the sulfur found in coal, and therefore could make a contribution to alleviating the environmental problem of acid rain.

Last year, one of the authors of the patent, Jenefir D. Isbister, received a congressional citation for her part in developing the so-called "sulfur-eating bug."

At the time, Congress said the significance of Isbister's achievement is in reducing the costs of "cleaning" coal of its sulfur before it is burned. So-called precombustion cleaning is one of three ways of reducing the effect on the environment; the other methods involve the use of low-sulfur coal and the filtering of sulfurous fumes as they leave a coal-burning plant.

The organism has been used successfully to lower the organic sulfur content of a number of northern Appalachian coals. And Atlantic Research Corp. has constructed a pilot plant to demonstrate the commercial feasibility of the process.

Labor demand rose in most parts of Virginia during January compared with the same period last year, with Northern Virginia registering the largest increase, according to the University of Virginia's Tayloe Murphy Institute.

As measured by the volume of help-wanted classified ads, "all areas of the state showed an increase between this January and last, except the Lynchburg metropolitan statistical area, which has been declining steadily in the last few months," said Donald W. Lindsey, a research assistant at the institute.

From a 1980 base index of 100, the want-ad linage in January increased 51 percent in Northern Virginia to 313, compared with 207 for the same month a year earlier.

The next-largest increase was 47 percent in the Danville area, followed by a 24 percent increase in the Tidewater area, an 18 percent increase in Richmond and a 17 percent increase in Charlottesville.