AFWERX Named to Fast Company’s 100 Best Workplaces for Innovators

July 29, 2020

By AFWERX Public Affairs

ARLINGTON, Va. (AFNS)  -- AFWERX came in at number 16 on Fast Company’s Best Workplaces for Innovators 2020 list.

This recognition honors businesses and organizations that demonstrate a deep commitment to encouraging innovation at all levels.

“AFWERX was created to drive innovation that would help secure our Nation’s future,” said Dr. Brian “Beam” Maue, one of the original founders of AFWERX. “Our focus has been on creating warfighter agility—options at the speed of relevance—by empowering Airmen with innovative processes and opportunities.  Our success is their success, and it is a thrill to see our Airmen recognized at a world class level.”

Developed in collaboration with Accenture, the 2020 Best Workplaces for Innovators ranks 100 winners from a variety of industries, including computer science, biotech, consumer packaged goods, nonprofit, education, financial services, cybersecurity, and engineering. 

Fast Company scored nearly 900 applications and endorsed the top 100 organizations—an increase from last year’s list of 50. The 2020 awards feature workplaces from around the world with several of the honorees based outside the U.S.

Through investments in innovation organizations like AFWERX and collaboration with private sector partners, the Air Force has set the foundation for organizational-wide culture and technological evolution.

Through AFWERX, progress has been made through a variety of initiatives including AFWERX Challenge, Air Force Ventures and the Air Force Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (AF SBIR/STTR) Open Topic process, grassroots Spark Cells, and culture change campaigns.

Through the AFWERX Challenge process, managed by theDifference with software provided by Collaboration AI, the Air Force accelerated the development process for a pilot’s helmet from one prototype in 10 years to multiple prototypes in the field in less than six months at a fraction of the cost.

Air Force Ventures, an initiative to leverage commercial technology to deliver better capability to the warfighter, faster, has partnered with the AF SBIR/STTR program to award hundreds of contracts based on end-user needs while growing the U.S. innovation ecosystem with the help of ecosystem development efforts with Established.

At Edwards AFB, where Chuck Yeager first broke the sound barrier in 1947, the 412th Test Wing leadership worked with Gaping Void to design a culture change campaign, resulting in 13 percent engagement of the wing and 90 percent engagement from users that logged onto the ideation platform that hosted the challenge.

AFWERX also initiated dozens of Spark Cells, semi-autonomous innovation units, on 80 of 318 Air Force bases and wings worldwide which empower local Airmen to innovate independently or as teams and leverage the resources across the distributed network.

In addition to ongoing efforts, new initiatives like the AFVentures Fellowship, managed through the SBIR Open Topic company Shift, aim to expose Airmen to concepts including design thinking, leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship.

“As much of the world recovers from health, economic, and social crises, we need innovation more than ever,” says Stephanie Mehta, editor-in-chief of Fast Company. “This new list of the Best Workplaces for Innovators celebrates organizations that have fostered innovative thinking by investing in technology, research and development, and their employees.” 

To see the complete list, go to: www.fastcompany.com/best-workplaces-for-innovators/2020

Fast Company's Best Workplaces for Innovators issue (September 2020) is available online now, and the print issue will be on newsstands beginning August 4, 2020. Join the Best Workplaces for Innovators conversation using #FCBestWorkplaces.