F. E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE – If you’ve taken an Air Force Physical Fitness Test, you know this feeling:
You just ran a personal best in the 1.5 mile run. Your lungs are on fire and you are drenched in sweat. You’re trying to fill out the paper AF Form 4446 and you write in your time but your seven starts to look like a nine and the sweat smear makes an eight look like a zero. Maybe the Airman electronically logging the information will be able to see the original time but she has a stack of other paper forms with similar issues. What if there was a way to eliminate the need for a paper form?
Enter F.E. Warren’s first-ever Collider Event. 213 small businesses from across the nation came together June 16, to help find solutions to challenges and problems identified by Airmen with the 90th Missile Wing.
“We have people coming in who want a better system or a better way to track information, so we are here to help make the right connections,” said Tech Sgt. Kolby Davis, LaunchWERX innovation specialist. “We sent their information out to small companies and we had an overwhelming response from people wanting to help.”
Originally, the event was supposed to be an in-person gathering but, due to COVID-19, the event took place virtually. The LaunchWERX team filmed six problem sets and sent the footage to the companies before the Collider. During the event, Airmen and companies had time to ask questions and provide answers, and then the companies were able to showcase their solutions.
“These solutions are not just mission-oriented,” said Master Sgt. Rachel Rogers, LaunchWERX NCOIC. “We have also worked solutions for everything from online food ordering and delivery to family care plans.”
Each business came up with a potential solution and Airmen listed to the pitches before deciding on a course of action. Once a small businesses is selected to come up with a solution, it enters the Small Business Innovation Research (SIBR) program. The SIBR program allows small businesses to explore new opportunities for research and development.
“This program allows small businesses to take part in Department of Defense programs,” said Capt. Zachary Dennis. A selected company will first receive a small award that allows them to develop a prototype for use at F.E. Warren. If the program does well and is successful at F.E. Warren, the company can receive more funding to expand their solution to other bases. “It can help them get off the ground and, as their ideas develop, they can eventually implement their solution across the Air Force,” said Dennis.
Editor’s Note: If you have an innovative idea, no matter how small or large, contact LaunchWERX at 307-773-2028 or [email protected] They would love to help launch your idea.