February 17, 2020

At BMNT, we build the capacity for real innovation using the proven strategies, methods, and tools of the tech community and have organized them into a system – H4X® – that consistently delivers meaningful solutions for mission-driven organizations. In 2019, we realized we didn’t have the right tool to scale this system, so we built one: Aurora. This tool quickly connects challenges to solutions and entrepreneurs to one another. 


Aurora leverages our extensive database of problems and solution providers to give its users a set of problem-solving superpowers. With it, users can rapidly analyze problems, decide which ones to solve, and find viable solution pathways toward solving them – all within a simple web application. This can increase the number of problems users can focus on and decrease the resources and time required to solve them. 


The seeds for what became Aurora were planted in late 2018, when we recognized that BMNT occupied a strategic and fairly exclusive position at the government innovation table: We have collected data and a unique perspective on the problems organizations face, the people connected to those problems, and the pathways toward solutions they eventually take (or don’t take).  


It was with this realization that we began creating the first problem-centric, data-driven analytics reports for the Office of Naval Research (ONR), called “Collaboration Maps.” The maps helped ONR guide decisions about which problems to prioritize and highlighted relevant individuals with whom those problem owners should connect. This enabled ONR to solve the US Navy’s critical challenges by integrating commercial solutions from over 90 vendors in 2019. Throughout the first quarter of 2019, we built on this data-driven insight reporting, constantly soliciting feedback, and re-applying what we learned to help drive tangible results for our customers. 


In parallel, several members of our team were canvassing various bases across the country to support AFWERX in accomplishing their mission to foster a culture of innovation and solve problems for the US Air Force. We met hundreds of Airmen, learned about their problems, and helped them devise new ways of solving these challenges. Through this work, we discovered a gap in how they analyzed their problems and managed their portfolio.


When we couldn’t find a tool to curate and analyze our data at the scale they needed, we built Aurora. 


We launched the first minimum viable product (MVP) of Aurora in September 2019 and with each iteration have steadily improved it by integrating user-generated feedback. Currently, in Aurora, our analysts have visibility into all the problems a customer organization is working on, access to all problem owners and collaborators, and can easily identify organizations that may have solutions related to those problems. Having this information easily accessible and  in one place increases the speed of enabling solutions for our customers and in turn increases the number of innovation opportunities we’re able to work on while decreasing the number of analysts required to help solve them. 


This year, we’re rolling out a workflow capability to assist our analysts in rapid Problem Curation, leveraging what we know about all prior problems we’ve curated. It’s going to drastically increase what we’re able to accomplish within our small team on behalf of our customers. We’re excited to see where it goes.