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NEWS | April 28, 2022

JBSA innovation cells collaborate in spreading innovative ideas

By David DeKunder 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Leaders of innovation cells at Joint Base San Antonio are opening the lines of communication in order to share ideas that can benefit units and organizations throughout the installation.

Since July 2021, innovation cells led by members of various JBSA wings, major commands and units have had informal meetings quarterly to discuss how they can collaborate in sharing ideas and solutions to help JBSA as a whole, said David Hill, 502nd Air Base Wing innovation coach.

Innovation, or spark, cells “enable Airman and Guardians to connect, collaborate, and tap into the growing body of knowledge around innovation” in the Air Force, according to AFWERX, the innovation arm of the Air Force supported by the Air Force Research Laboratory.

Hill said an innovation cell allows any Airman or Guardian an avenue to present an innovative idea, have it reviewed and if it’s workable, find ways to spread it to the organizations and units throughout JBSA.

Additionally, innovation cells help small businesses who have innovative ideas find, connect and collaborate with potential military customers, Hill said.

Hill gave one example of how an innovation cell works. For instance, a member who works with the 502nd Logistics Readiness Squadron came up with a new idea for cleaning gas masks, using a simple water pump. The idea was reviewed by the innovation cell and was then passed on throughout JBSA.

The innovation cells which have been meeting since last year have come up with a name for their group: JBSA AllSpark.

There are at least 12 innovation cells within JBSA, including those with the 502nd ABW, 37th Training Wing, the Air Force Personnel Center and the Air Education and Training Command.

Hill said the next step in fostering innovative ideas is developing a JBSA AllSpark section on the JBSA.mil website, which will provide information on events, organizational links for the different innovation cells within JBSA, stories about innovative ideas at JBSA and a page for small businesses seeking military customers through the Small Business Innovation Research Program, or SBIR, a competitive awards-based program through AFWERX which allows small businesses to explore their technological potential.

“What I want the website to do is to channel innovators to one place, so people can get a hold of each other easily,” Hill said.

Hill said he hopes the website will be up in the near future.

For more information on innovation cell meet-ups at JBSA, contact Hill at 210-808-0174 or David.Hill.76@us.af.mil.