iNET Innovator of the year holds awardThe Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Innovators Network (iNET) inaugurated its newest class of Spark-Seed-Spread Investees during the Innovation Accelerator Bootcamp, held Nov. 19 through Nov. 21 in Washington, D.C. Over the course of the three-day event, the fiscal 2020 (FY20) investees learned about the foundational principles of iNET, the fundamentals of innovation-related competencies, and forged new relationships with VHA leadership, iNET leadership, and one another.

The first day began with an early morning keynote address by Dr. Ryan Vega, Executive Director of VHA Innovation Ecosystem. Allison Amrhein, iNET Director of Operations, and Brynn Cole, iNET Director of Programming, then briefed investees on fundamental skills like contracting, pitching and data collection. With help from iNET facility Innovation Specialists, the group also covered communications and The Three-Box Solution by Vijay Govindarajan, a core component of how iNET approaches innovation.

During the second day of Bootcamp, FedTech, a startup studio and new iNET partner, took the lead on investees’ learning. Past partnerships with federal agencies like the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Department of Defense have equipped FedTech with the experience necessary to deliver a hands-on, experiential learning course for new and returning investees. The FedTech team educated Investees on lean startup theory, the process of customer discovery, and how to integrate human-centered design in everyday problem solving.

On the closing day, Dr. Carolyn Clancy—Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Discovery, Education and Affiliate Networks—delivered the keynote address and the inaugural Innovation Specialist of the Year award to Liz Williams, Innovation Specialist for the Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System, for her tireless efforts to lead innovation at her site and support design thinking throughout the VA health care system. Afterwards, VHA leadership from all levels served as mentors, hosted breakout sessions, and networked with investees. “In the end, it’s about making connections and building community,” Cole said. “We’re establishing relationships that will take investees through the end of their investment cycle, and, hopefully, their time at VHA.”

Future, from the ground up

The Innovation Accelerator Bootcamp fostered the employee-led innovation that iNET plans to build from the ground up. With a focus on the curriculum that investees will see over the next eight months, the event offered investees a glimpse into their futures and the future of innovation at VHA. Stay up to date with iNET on Twitter and learn more about our Spark-Seed-Spread Innovation Investment Program here.

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Published on Dec. 6, 2019

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  1. Adam Sanders December 9, 2019 at 12:13 pm

    Thanks for the article. How does one submit an application to be potentially chosen as a Spark-Seed investee?

    • Travis Burns December 12, 2019 at 7:30 pm

      That’s a good question!

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