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Malmstrom AFB opens its Innovation Lab

Malmstrom AFB opens its Innovation Lab
Senior Airman Alexander Luttrell tests drafting software with a virtual reality headset in the Wing1Werx Innovation Lab in December at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. Photo by Airman Elijah Van Zandt/U.S. Air Force

Jan. 27 (UPI) -- Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., on Wednesday announced it has opened its Innovation Lab, a part of its Wing1Werx hub using personnel ideas for improvement.

The lab is equipped with Wi-Fi enabled tablets, drafting software and virtual reality equipment, and will be to correspond with academic institutions and government agencies to test ideas, proposed by Airmen, for increased effectiveness.

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"The Innovation Lab is for Airmen who recognize solvable issues or problems with processes in their workplace," Lt. Col. Joseph Hap of the 341st Missile Wing said Wednesday in a press release.

"Anyone can participate in innovation, and this lab can be where the rubber meets the road. We want Airmen to start with an idea, flesh out that idea, do some brainstorming and see which method or means could be used to bring that idea to fruition," Hap said.

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The effort is an element of AFWERX, a Defense Department and Air Force initiative that started in 2017 to encourage a culture of innovation within the ranks. It also is meant as an opportunity to engage with entrepreneurs in the Air Force supply chain.

The new lab specializes in low-funding opportunities to circumvent military bureaucracy and bring private sector entrepreneurs into Air Force programs, officials said, and grew from three experiments in innovation to a single organization encouraging breakthroughs for improvement.

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In December, the Air Force presented a five-day virtual event, AFWERX Accelerate, to publicize its culture of innovation.

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The event honored successful 2020 partnerships with industry, interagency and investment innovators, as well as "disrupters across the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force," an Air Force statement said.

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