AFWERX Fusion 2020 Wraps First Ever Virtual Event With Record Attendance - Driving Innovation, Technology and Collaboration Between Industry, Business, Military and Academia

LAS VEGAS, Aug. 12, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The AFWERX Fusion 2020 Base of the Future Virtual Event and Showcase (July 28-30) drew a record number of attendees from across the globe, showcasing powerful keynotes, panel discussions, and fireside chats with internationally renowned speakers, celebrity guest appearances and a 370 team virtual trade show presenting Base of the Future technologies. Over the course of the three-day event and across four digital platforms-including YouTube, Facebook, and event rallied more than 25,000 viewers from vast regions of North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and other allied countries.

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The event featured keynote speakers from Google, Duke University, MGM Resorts International, Friday Pulse, Totem Block, U.S. Air Force, Department of Defense, iRobot, The Recording Academy and special celebrity cameos the likes of which included Jay Leno, Daymond John, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, and co-hosts: actress and singer Krista Kleiner and Colonel John Flynn of the U.S. Air Force & MGM Resorts International.

The AFWERX Fusion 2020 Showcase featured 370 exhibitors, selected from more than 1,600 submissions received from around the globe for the Base of the Future Challenge. Participating teams represent entrepreneurial startups, small businesses, large enterprises, academic institutions, and research labs who are all vying to build the Base of the Future and modernize the Department of Defense. Throughout the event teams pitched their solutions to a panel of subject matter experts from the relevant sectors of the Air Force. Following the Showcase, 92 teams have been selected to move forward in the Base of the Future Challenge and further engage in a demonstration event with the U.S. Air Force taking place August 31. To learn more about the Base of the Future Challenges, click here.

"Events like this are exceptionally important because, when we need to take on a new area of research and a new set of challenges, we need to be able to expose that to innovators of all types. A challenge like Base of the Future is a fantastic way to bring together innovators who are thinking about very different fields of technology," stated Dr. Will Roper, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.

"We accomplished what many organizations around the globe are also grappling with in the new world of COVID, how to produce what was once an in person event, take it online and still deliver a highly engaging and memorable experience for our annual flagship event," stated Mark Rowland, AFWERX Vegas Innovation Actualizer. "We are proud of the AFWERX team and our partners in the U.S. Air Force that worked tirelessly to make this event happen, along with the 370 companies that supported our trade show vying for contracts to modernize the Air Force."

Day 1 Highlights - Focus: Base Security and Resilience
Featured topics ranged from clean energy, base security, and resiliency with engaging panel discussions focused on ways to defend installations from next generation threats, designing resilient installations and communities, and best practices to support a resilient business.

Brigadier General Patrice Melancon's stated in her keynote on envisioning and building a digitally-integrated base of the future "let's face it, we can have the most resilient infrastructure and tech tools that allow us to be agile, but if we don't have our people it is all for naught. All that technology is not going to work itself."

Tech investor, Brian N. Sheth, shared his perspective on culture during his fireside chat on resilient businesses, "there is nothing more important than training the great people that you have, as one of the great sins that any organization, whether civilian or military, can make is take tremendously talented people, especially young people, and not train them appropriately before they send them on mission."

Day 2 Highlights - Focus: Leveraging Advanced Technology & Reverse Engineering
Featured discussions with more expert panelists on artificial intelligence, human factors in technology, leveraging technology to improve operational effectiveness and reverse engineering and manufacturing. Discussions focused on keeping our technological edge, how to innovate effectively, construction and 3D printing for expeditionary bases, and innovating technology to create the sport of the future.

General Stephen "Seve" Wilson opened day-two with a special surprise announcement, introducing Stephanie N. Mehta, Editor-in-Chief at Fast Company, joined by Dr. Brian "Beam" Maue, AFWERX co-founder, and Brandon Klein, Partner, the Difference Consulting, to announce that AFWERX was awarded number 16 of the Top 100 Best Workplaces for Innovators in the World. Members of the team joined virtually to share their excitement with the thousands of attendees.

Will Wilder (Wilder Systems), Scott Kotowski (Quantum Interface) and Dr. Anuja Snonalker (STEER) sat down on a panel to discuss the importance of robotics and the human connection to help with safety and more efficient operations.

Day 3 Highlight - Focus: Culture of Innovation and Wellbeing
Featured topics ranged from innovation, culture and well-being with panel discussions focused on the value of investing in culture, ecosystems and innovation, igniting innovation with the Air Force, holistic well-being and taking a look at the whole person, business and moral imperative, and lessons on leadership with Simon Sinek.

Helen Greiner, founder of iRobot and Lt. Col. Jennifer "JJ" Snow of AFWERX, sat down in a Fireside Chat to talk about trust and communication in the workplace to accomplish incredible state of the art innovations. "The more successful teams that I've worked with have always had trust and communication at the core of those experiences and that's enabled people to really come forward with ideas that maybe they might have been too afraid to share because they would have thought 'Oh gosh people are going to think that's crazy, I'm not going to take that risk," stated Helen Greiner of iRobot.

Kevin Hines, suicide survivor, suicide prevention advocate and co-founder of the Margaret and Kevin Hines Foundation, shared his powerful Keynote on the art of wellness and the ability to survive pain with true resilience. Hines shared his personal story on surviving and thriving after a suicide attempt, his story of hope, healing and recovery. "We are our brothers and sisters keepers. We are here for one another, it is our sole purpose in this world. I want all Airmen to know that you are worthy, you matter, and you are important to the Air Force," stated Kevin Hines of the Margaret and Kevin Hines Foundation.

Best-selling author and speaker, Simon Sinek, wrapped up the final day with Colonel John Flynn for the closing Fireside Chat discussing how all leadership is servant leadership and servant leadership means serving those who serve others. Sinek commented that the Air Force is a culture of ideas, unlike any other government organization.

Learn more about the AFWERX journey to support U.S. Air Force innovation and download the Empowering Next Generation Innovators and Innovations book.

High-Resolution Images Available Here

ABOUT AFWERX Base of the Future Challenge
The Base of the Future theme was inspired by Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, which was decimated by Hurricane Michael, a Category 5 storm that occurred in 2018. For decades, Tyndall had been home to many generations of Airmen and their families. In the storm's aftermath, nearly 500 buildings were destroyed or damaged beyond repair. Thousands of Airmen and their families were displaced and forced to leave a part of their lives behind. Fortunately, Congress approved a $3 billion military construction rebuild program, sparking hope that Tyndall would re-emerge stronger than ever before.

The aspirational initiative seeks to create a robust installation that will become a universal symbol of innovation and excellence that can scale across the United States Air Force. To accelerate this work, AFWERX, in association with Tyndall Air Force Base stakeholders and other Department of Defense entities, launched six open challenges to attract solutions to help bring the Base of the Future to life by innovating in the following six critical areas:

    --  Enhance Base Security and Defense
    --  Improve Installation Resilience
    --  Leveraging Technology for Operational Effectiveness
    --  Enabling Technologies for Reverse Engineering and Additive / Agile
    --  Strengthen Culture of Innovation Within the Air Force
    --  Empowering Airman and Family Well-Being

Established in 2017, AFWERX is a product of the U.S. Air Force, directly envisioned by former Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson. Her vision of AFWERX -- to solve some of the toughest challenges that the Air Force faces through innovation and collaboration amongst our nation's top subject matter experts. AFWERX serves as a catalyst to unleash new approaches for the warfighter through a growing ecosystem of innovators. AFWERX and the U.S. Air Force are committed to exploring viable solutions and partnerships to further strengthen the Air Force, which could lead to additional prototyping, R&D, and follow-on production contracts.

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