AFWERX Spark hosts Crossflow events Published Aug. 22, 2023 By Kristen Dennis AFWERX The 1st Special Operations Wing Spark Cell hosts the eastern Crossflow event at Hurlburt Field, Florida, July 11, 2023. More than 50 Airmen attended to connect, collaborate and learn best practices to further their base innovation program. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kacey Napier) Photo Details / Download Hi-Res WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFRL) – AFWERX Spark held five Crossflow events at strategically situated locations throughout the world in 2023, all focused on the development, collaboration and growth of Spark Cells in each region. Spark is an AFWERX division that fosters and encourages innovation within the Department of the Air Force through a variety of cultivated efforts, including Spark Cells. “I think it's a great tool for the Spark Cells to get together so they can collaborate,” said Kristina Botelho, contracting officer and RapidX career broadener. “Especially the younger Spark Cells that are still struggling to get their feet wet and figure things out.” Spark Cells create a network of Air Force and Space Force personnel, Department of Defense partners, academia and industry experts, and government facilitators who are all focused on solving technological and tactical problems which impede the DAF. Through the personal and professional development of its members, as well as the collaboration of like-minded individuals, Spark Cells work to create a culture of innovation. Matt Connelly, 52nd Fighter Wing process manager, briefs a class on the pain points facing Spark Cells at the Europe Crossflow event in Venice, Italy, June 13, 2023. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kyndal Lievano) Photo Details / Download Hi-Res Spark Crossflow events are regional meetings of all the Spark Cells, during which the innovators can develop as a Spark Cell, expand the innovation network, and create partnerships through topic-based discussions and networking exercises. This year, there were five regions where these events were held: western, central, and eastern United States, Europe, and the Pacific. Each regional event provided attendees with several days' worth of curated curriculum of Design-Think and Liberating Structures Facilitation methods in an effort to help the attendees develop a better understanding of the DAF innovation ecosystem. “It's important to continue to encourage people to work together,” said Master Sgt. Dakota Belcher, Crossflow facilitator. “Developing actual relationships with folks that then builds trust and mitigates risk. There are so many different aspects of it.” The 2023 series of Crossflow events has grown considerably when compared to last year. In 2022, the Spark team held three events with a total of 83 attendees from 23 Spark Cells. This year, the Spark team was able to grow their capabilities and reach more members and cells. The 2023 Crossflow event series impacted 60 cells worldwide and provided critical innovation teachings to 219 attendees. “It shows the Spark Cells that we support them, and we are trying to provide as many resources as possible,” said Staff Sgt. Kyndal Lievano, Crossflow facilitator. “A lot of Spark Cells often get really sucked into their own missions and their own projects, so having the AFWERX Spark team give them this opportunity to [network] allows them to really explore different ideas and gets them into a safe space.” The Crossflow events build inter-Cell communication by allowing people to make personal connections with other Cells in their area. This communication allows Spark to prevent duplicated efforts, leverage expertise efficiently, and learn best practices from each other. This makes the Spark Cells stronger individually, and as a collective. “There were a lot of questions that were asked, like ‘why are we important in the grand scheme of things?’” said Major Ryan Pritchard, an attendee from Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma. “It helped clarify that and gave us a direction.” As the Spark team continues to prioritize the development of the individuals and teams they support, these events will continue, with slight modifications to the format and focus areas, in order to best support the innovation network. More training for the Spark Cells will soon be available on the AFWERX online portal and will continue the work the Crossflow events began: creating a strong team of innovators who are well prepared to solve the problems facing the DAF. To learn more, visit https://afwerx.com/divisions/spark/spark-cells/ or contact firstname.lastname@example.org to get Portal registration access. About AFRL The Air Force Research Laboratory is the primary scientific research and development center for the Department of the Air Force. AFRL plays an integral role in leading the discovery, development, and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for our air, space and cyberspace force. With a workforce of more than 11,500 across nine technology areas and 40 other operations across the globe, AFRL provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from fundamental to advanced research and technology development. For more information, visit www.afresearchlab.com. About AFWERX The innovation arm of the DAF and a directorate within the Air Force Research Laboratory brings cutting edge American ingenuity from small businesses and start-ups to address the most pressing challenges of the DAF. Employs approximately 325 military, civilian and contractor personnel at six hubs and sites executing an annual $1.4B budget. Since 2019, has executed 4,671 contracts worth more than $2B to strengthen the U.S. defense industrial base and drive faster technology transition to operational capability. For more information, visit: www.afwerx.com.