Spark Tank ignites six ideas for innovation funding

  • Published
  • By Kendahl Johnson
  • 75th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

In an accelerated effort to fund innovative solutions for operational problems, the HIVE Spark Cell, embedded in the 75th Air Base Wing, hosted a Spark Tank competition in May. About 50 ideas with potential to make significant impacts on Air Force missions were submitted from across the installation.

Fourteen ideas were selected to pitch to the Spark Tank panel, who vetted them based on level of impact and funding feasibility. The experience resulted in the selection of six pitched ideas for funding and implementation.

“It was a successful event in getting ideas pitched and selected,” 1st Lt. Connor Stevens, 75th Air Base Wing’s Director of Innovation. “Our goal was to utilize the squadron innovation fund budget to accelerate ideas that will enhance Hill AFB missions and operational effectiveness. We met that goal.”

Stevens said the SIF budget of $533,000 has been allocated to the following ideas:

Air Brake Driving Simulator, 75th Logistics Readiness Squadron. There is a significant risk in repairing the unit’s complex air systems and no curriculum or training aids exist for these systems. The simulators would help improve training, safety and the ability to diagnose and troubleshoot problems.

Engineering Document Management System, 75th Civil Engineer Group. The system would provide three years of Cloud One hosting and development for Team Hill users. The new system will improve processes and optimize infrastructure, saving both time and money as well as reducing errors.

Adjustable Aircraft Stands, Hill Aerospace Museum. Floor space at the museum is limited, and elevating aircraft on stands is necessary to ensure adequate space for aircraft and exhibits. Currently, the museum uses custom built stands for each aircraft based on location and size, which is both expensive and time consuming. Having adaptable stands will not only support growth and improve display flexibility, but will also save money by eliminating the costly and time-consuming fabrication of custom stands.

J-Sig Tablets, 75th LRS. The existing process for requesting vehicles suffers from limited mobility, primarily due to hardline desktop requirements. Incorporating Wi-Fi enabled ruggedized tablets represents a simple yet powerful enhancement that will streamline the entire process. Use of tablets will significantly enhance the 300 vehicle requests annually, which play a crucial role in various missions, ranging from hosting distinguished visitors to executing real-world operations.

Audio Descriptive Devices, Hill Aerospace Museum. The museum will lease 10 devices programmed for audio descriptive tours, making the museum more accessible for non-English speakers, blind or low-vision individuals, and those with low-reading comprehension or other disabilities.

Tactical Combat Casualty Care Simulators, 75th Security Forces. Two realistic simulators with responsible physiology will advance Hill’s medical training and enhance customer care. The units will help train individuals in providing lifesaving care in gunshot wounds, amputation, open fractures, bleeding and much more.

“There were a lot of great ideas that weren’t selected because they wouldn’t fit the timeline in which we had to grant funds. However, every submission was valuable, and our office will continue to work with innovators and connect them with alternative resources,” Stevens said. “We will host another Spark Tank at the start of next year where units will have another opportunity to pitch their innovative ideas.”

The Spark Tank was a culmination of the inaugural Hill AFB Innovation Days event, where Hill partnered with industry and government stakeholders to feature training sessions, speakers and panels. There was also a tech expo to provide participants an opportunity to network with dozens of top companies and check out the latest in today’s technology and innovations. Innovation Days was designed to help participants navigate the innovation ecosystem and work together to solve Air Force problems.