Qantas asks start-ups to help it innovate

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Qantas asks start-ups to help it innovate

Will open up data and systems to accelerator program.

National airline Qantas has launched an accelerator program aimed at uncovering innovative ideas that can improve the travel experience.

The 'Avro' accelerator program - named after Qantas' first aircraft, the Avro 504k - will give ten start-ups the opportunity to work with Qantas and big-name tech vendors for 12 weeks. The program was designed with the help of corporate accelerator Slingshot.

It will give start-ups access to some of the airline's operational data, technology platforms, and "anonymised" customer insights, as well as industry partners AWS, Adobe, IBM, Salesforce, MYOB, Xero, Alibaba Cloud, HubSpot, Wework, SendGrid, DropBox, Autopilot, and BizSpark Plus.

Each has offered perks - like hosting and service credits and discounts - to participants. Qantas has also signed up a host of industry mentors to the program.

Those chosen to participate in the program will receive up to $150,000 from the Slingshot venture fund. Qantas said there is potential for further funding from the airline and its partners down the track.

It has broken up the program into five themes: a "seamless" travel experience; servicing customers beyond the air; simplifying platforms and systems; streamlining processes for efficiency; and the next "breakthrough business".

“Customer needs keep evolving and the limits of technology are constantly expanding, so there is a clear business imperative for us to find new ways to improve how we operate," Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said in a statement.

“We’re looking forward to opening up our doors to ideas that are different, challenging and truly innovative. Ideas that could benefit from the expertise and scale at a company like Qantas to refine them and make them a reality."

Applications are open for both start-ups and later-stage businesses until April 27. Qantas will hold roadshows in capital cities around the country over the next month.

Successful entrants will pitch their idea to Qantas and Slingshot in May, before the 12-week program begins in June. A demo day will be held in September, and select teams will receive an extra three months with the program from that same month.

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