Liberty Spark: The future is innovation Published July 29, 2021 By Senior Airman Madeline Herzog 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- Within the last four years, the U.S. Air Force launched AFWERX, a program dedicated to fostering a culture of innovation within the service and enabling that innovation to thrive. Within AFWERX and strategically located at military installations all over the world, localized Spark Cells actively help facilitate innovation, empowering Airmen at the base-level to create and collaborate their ideas with top problem solvers from across the AF innovation network. “One of the first things we noticed was that innovation efforts were happening around base, but they were doing it home-brew style,” said Tech. Sgt. Issac Holley, Liberty Spark Cell chief innovation officer. “They were doing it under their own steam with the resources they had available, but they were missing out on an entire ecosystem that existed in not just the Air Force, but academia and industry.” The Liberty Wing Spark Cell is available to help Airmen with ideas take them from a concept and refine it into a proposal, so they are able to gather the resources needed to create a prototype. There are three core teams that create this innovation pipeline that helps fast-track Airmen’s ideas. First, the engagement team aids the problem generation from within the units. Next, the capabilities team shows the Airmen the resources and programs available to them when constructing the prototype. Finally, the transition team submits the creation to scale the efforts across the ecosystems. This team of facilitators have a vision to develop innovators that challenge the traditional methods of the common workplace environment, and help accelerate ideas while fostering a competitive team dynamic. “We’re trying to encourage Airmen to take risks, and be bold so they can bring the tools of tomorrow to our warfighters today.” said Holley. The Air Force is continuing to move forward with the culture of innovation, and utilizing the Liberty Spark Cell will help with those efforts. “Our Air Force must accelerate change to control and exploit the air domain to the standard the nation expects and requires from us,” said Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., Chief of Staff of the Air Force. “If we don’t change, if we fail to adapt, we risk losing the certainty with which we have defended our national interests for decades.” The first step an Airman should take after forming an idea is to reach out to the innovation office themselves at Libertyspark@us.af.mil or to go to the Liberty Spark website, https://libertyspark.org/, and click the ‘submit your idea’ button at the top of the page. Airmen not associated with the Liberty Wing can find their nearest Spark Cell here: https://www.afwerx.af.mil/contact-us.html#map-canvas.