Team Dover opens new facility for innovation, collaboration

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Christopher Quail
  • 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Dover AFB hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony Sept. 23, 2020, to mark the grand opening of a new facility for the innovation lab, called Bedrock.

Bedrock is Dover’s “innovation foundation”: a location filled with technological equipment for problem-solvers, tinkerers and those with ideas to come together and make those ideas become a reality.

“[Previously,] ideas would come from all over, from every direction. You’d get them from outside or organically through our Airmen in their units, but what Bedrock is really all about is a flat organizational structure,” said Capt. Ryan Nichol, 436th Airlift Wing chief innovation officer. “So, we operate within a bureaucracy, but Bedrock is a one-stop shop where we’re actually combining with our process improvement folks, and when people submit an idea on, we sit down and we’re kind of the depository for all these ideas, so we reduce redundant efforts and streamline work within our innovation ecosystem across bases and different Air Force career fields.”

The innovation lab was officially chartered in January 2019. The original idea of Bedrock was inspired by Phoenix Spark Hub. Phoenix Spark is the first innovation hub in the Air Force, created by Travis Air Force Base a few years ago.

“Most bases are standing up their own version of a Spark Cell or an innovation lab on their base,” said Nichol. “What makes Dover’s really unique is the co-working area that we have. Collaboration is key to innovation, so we have a place where Airmen from different Air Force specialty codes can come work on ideas together. With having two aircraft at Dover, C-17s and C-5s, there may be a solution that betters the maintenance for both of those aircraft.”

Bedrock has helped establish many partnerships between Dover Air Force Base and the surrounding community. Civil-military collaboration pivotal to ensuring an environment conducive to economic development.

“One of the things that I see my job as is the partnership,” said Nichol. “I’m linked in with the state innovation officer, Rob Nicholson and working with the University of Delaware entrepreneurship school, and my priority is building upon those partnerships for mutual benefit.”

The new facility is located on the first floor of Building 262 and is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to all Dover Airmen and key spouses.

“It's truly a remarkable day at Dover, and we’re really excited to start tackling projects and innovating to improve our Air Force and Airmen’s life and to maintain our competitive edge,” said Nichol. “This was a culmination of lots of efforts from volunteer Airmen across the base, and I’d like to thank all the members that have built this and made this day possible.”