SPARK is a grassroots innovation program whose mission is to bring tomorrow’s tools to the Warfighter today.  SPARK does this by forming collaborative partnerships between the military’s operational experts and the top problem solvers in industry, academia, and the government.  SPARK creates unique opportunities for external partners to work directly with military operators on interesting problems and allows for the fielding of solutions that have a direct impact on the Air Force’s mission.  The SPARK program is currently building a network of SPARK Innovation Cells on Air Force bases around the world.

The SPARK program has three goals:

  • Provide the Warfighter with the best tools and answers today
  • Inspire a culture of innovation within the Air Force
  • Build symbiotic relationships between the DoD and experts from industry, academia, and other government agencies

The SPARK program pursues its goals through three different types of activities:

  • Widgets for the Warfighter: Identifying a problem set and developing the hardware/software solutions for fielding
  • Collaborative Research: Developing hypotheses, theses, or problem statements for analysis by an academic institute or consultant group
  • Knowledge Exchange: Providing academic or practical opportunities for individual or organizational learning

Types of projects include but are not limited to:

  • Software and app development
  • Machine learning and artificial intelligence
  • Tools/Studies for logistics management and operations research
  • Organizational and managerial research and studies
  • Augmented & Virtual Reality
  • Corporate visits to exchange managerial best practices
  • Automation and robotics
  • Manufacturing technologies to include additive and subtractive technologies