VA brings in FedTech for employee innovation trainings

The group will train Veterans Health Administration employees on "new ways to use innovation and creativity within VA."
Secretary Wilkie Speaks at VSO Conventions, Tours VA Facilities  Customer service, stability and quality care for Veterans remain top priorities for Secretary Robert Wilkie at the Department of Veterans Affairs. He reinforced that pledge as incoming VA Secretary while visiting medical facilities and attended national Veteran engagements in three states last week. Secretary Wilkie served as keynote speaker at the American Legion’s 100th National Convention in Minneapolis, MN. He called members of the nation’s largest wartime Veterans service organization “powerful advocates” and said “let me thank you, thank the entire American Legion past and present for everything you have done to make this the last best hope of man on earth.” In referring to his prime directive of customer service, Secretary Wilkie said “we have to talk to Veterans, we have to listen to Veterans, because every major advance and relief for those who have ‘borne the battle’ has come through the efforts of Veterans themselves, not waiting on the slow machine of government to move.” He also lauded the passing of the MISSION Act in making it easier for eligible Veterans of all eras to navigate the system and ensure they receive the best health care possible whether delivered in VA facilities or in the community.    While in Minnesota, the Secretary also visited with patients and was given an expansive tour and briefing by leadership at the Minneapolis VA Health Care System. The facility has an excellent reputation and is known worldwide for its strong research and academic services focused on Veterans. The facility is recognized for its overall performance and rated a 5-Star. Secretary Wilkie was particularly impressed with the advancements in prosthetic technology that is now available to Veterans there. Secretary Wilkie was also welcomed at Fort Snelling National Cemetery which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The cemetery is the final resting place for Minneapolis area Veterans dating back to the Revolutionary War era with more than 225,000 interments.    The Secretary then headed to Dallas, TX to visit with Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) leadership and speak to hundreds of attendees at the PVA’s 8th annual Heath Care Summit & Expo. The Secretary   reinforced his top priorities and his commitment to working hand in hand with health care professionals saying “as the Secretary of this department, I am the temporary custodian of the flame that first burned on Revolutionary fields in the 1700’s, it is a flame that you all carry and are trusted with and my pledge to you is to be part of your team.” He went on to say, “I am honored to serve with you and I thank you for carrying on the most noble mission in the federal government.”   Secretary Wilkie also engaged with Veterans and leadership at the VA North Texas Health Care System (VANTHCS) in Dallas. Topics of discussion included progress in suicide prevention and mental health awareness outreach, innovative surgical care procedures and modernization efforts. As VA’s second-largest health care system, VANTHCS is available to 600,000 Veterans that live in the northern Texas and southern Oklahoma region.   At the final stop in Cleveland, OH, the secretary served as a keynote speaker for the unveiling of a Gold Star Families Memorial Monument and Medal of Honor ribbon cutting ceremony alongside retired U.S. Marine Corps warrant officer and VA Veterans service representative Woody Williams. Williams received the Medal of Honor during the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II. Secretary Wilkie also participated in several media interviews including Cleveland’s Morning News in which he told the host “the Gold Star Families…have given the most of all of us and they remind us every day why all of us sleep soundly at night.” Photos Courtesy Dept. Veteran Affairs

The Department of Veterans Affairs is investing in turning its employees into innovators.

The agency announced on Wednesday that it has contracted accelerator and innovation bootcamp provider FedTech to provide training to Veterans Health Administration employees on how to turn ideas into solutions in use.

Over the course of a year, FedTech’s “network of experienced business professionals” will “train VHA employee innovators and discuss new ways to use innovation and creativity within VA.” Participants will learn how to do things like prototype an idea, create a business model, measure return on investment and more. Trainings will take place both in person, such as during a scheduled “Innovation Boot Camp” Nov. 19-21, and via web-based modules created for VHA.

“Schooling like this is essential to ensuring growth and advancement of VA’s innovation culture and fostering continuous learning while we work to deliver creative solutions that can positively impact Veteran lives,” VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said in a statement.


The VA program is a twist on FedTech’s flagship program, which is all about tech transfer— it matches would-be entrepreneurs to technologies developed in federal labs. The entrepreneurs then spend two months learning about the technology and, through copious interviews, exploring its potential in other markets. The essential question the entrepreneurs ask: What else can this tech do?

Sometimes, there’s an obvious and viable answer to this question. Other times there isn’t. In either case, though, the process is a learning experience both for scientists from federal labs and the entrepreneurs who join the accelerator.

The group has also branched out and started offering workshops teaching “intrapreneurship” to corporate and government clients. This is where FedTech’s work with the VA will fit in. The group’s website provides another example of this kind of programming — FedTech ran a program called “Elevate” with the Department of Defense’s Defense Laboratories Office, a training aiming to “grow the capability of DoD lab personnel to interact with industry, non-traditional partners and the venture community.”

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