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Qantas partners with Slingshot to launch AVRO Accelerator

Australian airline Qantas has partnered with corporate accelerator Slingshot to launch the AVRO Accelerator, a program aimed at commercialising innovative ideas within the travel sector.

Sourcing its name from Qantas’ first ever aircraft, the Avro 504K, in a tribute to supporting Qantas’ history of aviation industry “firsts”, the AVRO Accelerator will look to guide 10 local and global startups through a 12 week program designed by Slingshot.

Each startup will gain the chance to work alongside Qantas Group’s own portfolio of mentors and inhouse team to develop their ideas, while gaining access to the company’s operation data, technological platforms and customer insights.

Selected participants will also receive up to $150,000 in funding from the Slingshot Venture Fund to help build out their ideas; $50,000 will be given through the program, with a further $100,000 available for follow-on investment.

Qantas Group CEO, Alan Joyce, said the accelerator marked an opportunity for the company to continue to shape the travel industry and support its innovation agenda.

“We’re proud of our track record as innovators and early adopters and we think there’s much more to come, so we’re asking Australian and international startups to join us as we unearth the next big ideas,” he said.

AVRO is aimed at applicants with ideas themed around reforming the travel experience, building connection platforms, streamlining travel processes, and other innovative “breakthroughs”.

“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,” said Joyce.

“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.”

Karen Lawson, Slingshot’s CEO, said the company is thrilled to partner with Qantas for the accelerator, adding that it reflects a trend of larger corporates looking to startups as a way to innovate within their industry.

“An innovation strategy must include an external approach to tap into an increasing world of disruption and talent. We are seeing a fundamental shift as more corporate boardrooms mature in their understanding of the role startups and scale-ups play in navigating the reinvention of their industry and meeting customer’s changing expectations,” said Lawson.

The partnership comes after Slingshot announced it would be expanding into Queensland to support tourism-focused programs in Brisbane and Cairns, having received funding from the Queensland government’s $9 million Advance Queensland Industry Accelerators Program.

Image: Slingshot founders. Source: Supplied.