With support from the Michigan Economic Development Corp and Southwest Airlines, Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority has introduced the Ford Launchpad for Innovative Technologies and Entrepreneurship, or FLITE, which provides grants and testing opportunities to companies focused on bringing emerging air travel technology solutions to market.
One of the first airport-based initiatives in the nation, FLITE provides funding to encourage design, development and pilot testing of new products and services in a live airport environment. FLITE has unveiled the first round of grants, providing USD150,000 to three companies, including:
- Aurrigo: Auto-Sim software platform to create a digital twin of airside operations
- WHILL: Autonomous mobility device
- Sunflower Lab: Remote autonomous drone-in-a-box security system.
FLITE’s new advisory committee will provide feedback on the applications and pathways to scale proven and successful projects beyond Ford International Airport. They were chosen based on their commitment to innovation, industry leadership and technology solutions.
Ford International Airport hopes to expand the financial support of FLITE by adding sponsors and other supporters, including venture capital firms, interested in investing in the technology being developed.
Tory Richardson, president and CEO of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority said: “We can now offer this select group of companies the invaluable opportunity to test their products in the real-world airport environment. Successful products, as we saw last year with the UV disinfecting robot, can scale up to meet the demands of larger airports while improving the overall experience for our guests.”
(Image: Michigan Economic Development Corp)
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