ARLINGTON, Va. — The Air Force recently announced the 2019 Spark Tank finalists who will showcase their innovative ideas to Air Force senior leaders Feb. 28, in Orlando, Florida, at the Air Force Association Air Warfare Symposium.
Spark Tank provides a high-profile, public forum to celebrate the innovations of Airmen, identifies avenues to increase lethality and cost-effective modernization, pushes boundaries to pursue future technologies, and recognizes problems and creative solutions. This year, out of 320 submissions, six finalists were selected and an additional project will be highlighted at AFA due to the non-expense implementation.
“Spark Tank is a chance to celebrate our Air Force risk-takers, idea makers and entrepreneurs who refuse to accept the status quo, and have determined their own fate by developing solutions that make it easier for us to bring our very best to the fight,” said Lauren Knausenberger, Spark Tank director.
Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen W. Wilson chaired the 2019 Spark Tank board to determine the competition’s finalists.
“We asked Airmen to innovate, and they delivered,” said Wilson. “This year’s Spark Tank candidates knocked it out of the park, and paring their submissions down to a handful of ideas was no easy feat—the ingenuity of our Airmen never ceases to amaze me.”
During the selection board process, senior leaders engaged in a lively discussion, addressing the need for specific capabilities as well as concerns of safety, policy, Air Force-wide implementation, technical feasibility and scalability.
Airmen submitted ideas via the Air Force Ideation Platform and were able to vote and comment on submissions. Key themes included automation, workforce development, readiness, maintenance innovation and connectivity.
The finalists will receive funding and other resources to implement their innovations. The Air Force Spark Tank winner will also receive a trophy, and the member’s unit will display the Spark Tank championship cup on behalf of the unit until unseated at a future competition.
Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson began the Air Force’s Spark Tank competition in 2017 with a goal to “unleash the innovative capacity of our Airmen.”
The competition is co-hosted by the Airmen Powered by Innovation program and the AFWERX innovation ecosystem.