Qantas on the hunt for startups to support its innovation agenda

Qantas and Slingshot are currently looking for 10 startups and scale-ups to participate in the 12-week Avro accelerator program.

Qantas has commissioned Slingshot to run an accelerator program for startups and scale-ups that can support the airline's innovation agenda.

The Avro Accelerator, named after Qantas' first aircraft, will be a 12-week mentorship-driven program with 10 startups or scale-ups receiving AU$50,000 upfront in exchange for up to 10 percent equity. A further AU$100,000 will be invested in those showing promise at the end of the program.

Qantas also flagged the opportunity for additional investment from its venture capital arm, as well as its investment partners beyond the accelerator program.

The airline said it is looking to invest in ideas that will help it create "seamless" travel experiences, streamline processes, build connected platforms, and identify the next "breakthrough" business opportunity.

Beginning in June, the program's participants will receive mentorship from executives at Qantas Group, while having access to the airline's operational data and anonymised customer information.

"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 Group CEO Alan Joyce said in a statement.

The Avro Accelerator program will be run from Slingshot's premises at the WeWork coworking space in Pyrmont, Sydney.

Qantas said it has been stepping up its focus on innovation lately, citing its investments in onboard Wi-Fi as a recent example of that.

In February, the trial of Qantas' on-board Wi-Fi system saw 140 of its passengers connected to the internet. During the flight, the system delivered typical download speeds of between 7Mbps and 12Mbps to each connected device, with Qantas noting that connection speeds of approximately 1.5Mbps are required to comfortably stream movies on most handheld devices.

According to the national carrier, the faster connection speeds are made possible through the use of the NBN Sky Muster satellite service, and represent a significant upgrade over older satellite technology accessed by most airlines around the world.

In October last year, GE Aviation and Qantas announced that its data scientists, engineers, and software designers would be working together to analyse some of the 10 billion data points produced by the aviation sector annually to help the Australian carrier cut fuel costs and carbon emissions. This includes analysis of flight paths, replacement cycles, and engine optimisation.

Previously, Qantas turned to Amazon Web Services to help with flight planning, as its legacy systems could not handle the compute power required to run analysis around determining if certain flights were possible.

Since commencing its transition to the cloud, the national carrier managed to speed up its booking processing times from batch to batch to real time; increase data processing time by 100 times; reduce the amount of code required to do the same workload by 90 percent; and cut the cost to run the service by 80 percent.

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