With support from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and Southwest Airlines, the 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.
The Gerald R. Ford International Airport has launched FLITE to develop + test high-tech air travel solutions
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. Today, FLITE unveiled the first round of grants, providing $150,000 to three companies, including:
- Aurrigo: Auto-Sim® software platform to create a “digital twin” of airside operations
- WHILL: Autonomous mobility device
- Sunflower Labs: Remote autonomous drone-in-a-box security system
“The Ford International Airport has long been an economic catalyst for West Michigan,” said Tory Richardson, president and CEO of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority. “FLITE enables us to harness that power and partner with entrepreneurs and established companies focused on developing innovative new products and services to improve air travel and foster a statewide ecosystem for innovation, entrepreneurship and tech-sector growth.
“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.”
Grand Rapids-based Seamless, an innovation facilitation organization with vast experience aiding global enterprises in maximizing projects and partnerships with leading startups, is providing proof of concept coordination for grantees.