Story by SSgt Jordyn Fetter on 08/02/2019The collisions that are common in the private sector are few and far between for Airmen and other military members who are increasingly looking for ways to advance their branch's capabilities.
To better foster a culture of collaboration and innovation within the U.S. Air Force, AFWERX Fusion brought more than 1200 people from business, military, and academia as well as close to 120 Multi-Domain Operations Challenge teams and companies together under one roof July 23 to 24.
"We're here to build, not only technologies, but to build out those relationships and that ecosystem so that we can secure our Nation's future," Dr. Brian Maue, CEO of AFWERX. "What history suggests is, if people are given a creative environment and a safe place to experiment with new ideas, amazing innovations can happen."
As AFWERX's flagship event, Fusion entices participation from various organizations, sectors, and missions to listen to speakers and panelists, share ideas, and collaborate on the spotlight AFWERX Challenge of the year.
A total 317 teams initially submitted to this year's focus, the MDO Challenge, and 100 were invited to AFWERX Fusion along with 20 Small Business Innovation Research contract recipients. Following judging during the event, 30 teams were selected to attend the demonstration day scheduled for Sept. 10 to 12 at the AFWERX Vegas Hub.
"Multi-Domain Operations is a very complex challenge," Maue said. "What the AFWERX Fusion Xperience has done, is bring together industry, research, and military leaders to put together prototype concepts that our military stakeholders can look at and say, I want to make American stronger by developing these prototypes to best handle the multi-domain operations challenge.'"
Exhibitors, 60 percent of which had never worked with the military before, were recognized for their efforts toward making the U.S. Air Force more lethal, efficient, and effective across air, space, cyber, land, and sea environments.
"[The] AFWERX Fusion event is a great example on how other government agencies should be embracing technology, entrepreneurs and academia to rapidly prototype and solve some of the greatest challenges we are facing in this country and abroad," says Pamela Norton, chief executive officer and founder of Borsetta and one of the 30 finalists. "The Fusion event was professional, objective, informative and a great collaborative platform that is bringing together our military, solutions providers, technologists and academia into an open environment to make this country and our world a better place!"
The teams invited to be put to the test in front of Air Force stakeholders during demo day September 10 to 12, are as follows:
Blue Roof Labs
Charles River Analytics
Enlighten IT Consulting
Rhombus Power, Inc.
AFWERX is designed to more quickly, effectively, and efficiently solve some of the toughest challenges that the Air Force faces through innovation, collaboration, and out-of-the-box approaches.
By bringing in Airmen from as far away as Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and as close as Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, and connecting them into an ecosystem rich in expertise and new perspectives, AFWERX was able to do one thing it does best--break down silos and drive collaboration across perceived barriers.
"I'm beyond excited to see the outcome of the many interactions we experienced while attending [AFWERX Fusion]," said Airman 1st Class John-Austin Gallardo, Arctic Spark Liaison with the 673rd Medical Group at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. "Introductions, networking, infrastructure development, and new friendships have yielded an atmosphere that I want to see within the service. It's the future of the Air Force--a culture shift beyond measure."