VHA Innovators Network

Allison Amrhein and Brynn Cole discuss the VHA Innovators Network with participants and Innovation Specialists. Allison Amrhein and Brynn Cole discuss the VHA Innovators Network with participants and Innovation Specialists.

Building the Architecture for Innovation Across VHA

The Veterans Health Administration Innovators Network (iNET) launched in 2015 to build and empower a community of VHA employees who actively move the Department of Veterans Affairs forward using innovation to better serve Veterans and their families. iNET takes a ground up approach by using the first-hand knowledge of frontline employees to identify some of VA’s greatest challenges and to develop both Veteran and employee-centric solutions.

The Network supplies VHA with a cadre of highly trained “Innovation Specialists” and provides them with the necessary tools and resources to understand on-the-ground challenges and support innovation at their facilities. With dedicated staff at 34 sites, the Network offers an interactive environment for VHA employees to test new ideas with the mission to transform Veteran care.


  • Serves as a creative space for VA employees to test new ideas and join forces with stakeholders across the Veteran community to improve the way VA serves Veterans
  • Encourages and invests in employees who wish to recognize and address the system’s greatest challenges
  • Provides employees with the training and resources to bring their innovative ideas to life

Key Program Components

Spark-Seed-Spread Innovation Investment Program
and the Investee Accelerator Program

The Spark-Seed-Spread Innovation Investment Program seeks innovative concepts, programs, products, and solutions from VHA employees. VHA employees who are selected for investments enter the Investee Accelerator Program. The Accelerator supports early-stage ideas through education, mentorship, and financing. It runs for a fixed-period of time and is a process of intense, rapid, and immersive education aimed at accelerating the life cycle of young innovative ideas, compressing years’ worth of learning-by-doing into just a few months.

Human-Centered Design

Human-Centered Design (HCD) is a process for problem solving that focuses on human needs first, taking a creative and iterative approach to finding solutions to human needs. This methodology has been a core component of iNET since the program was established in 2015. HCD drives both decisions made by iNET leadership and fuels the Veteran-centric innovations developed by VHA employees.

Three-Box Solution

The Three-Box Solution, based on a book written by Vijay Govindarajan in 2016, is a methodology that encourages innovation within organizations by managing the present, selectively forgetting the past, and creating the future. iNET is adopting The Three-Box Solution as a fundamental component of their curriculum to encourage space for strategic and innovative thinking within a large and complex health care system.