The Sky’s the Limit for Four Teams Selected for New Aviation Incubator
How would you suggest innovating air travel if you had the ear of a global airline, an aircraft engine manufacturer, and a digital data expert? Improve the way baggage is handled and checked? Reimagine the meal tray? Find a better way to plan a trip? Four UAE startup teams with these ideas have been awarded the first spots in the region’s only aviation and travel industry incubator.
Judged by the Emirates Group, GE and Etisalat Digital, the winning teams were selected from more than 125 entries submitted to the Intelak Aviation & Travel Technology Incubator. Launched in September, the incubator gives innovators, entrepreneurs and students from across the UAE the opportunity to develop their travel-related concepts.
The four winning teams are: the Conceptualizers, a team made up of five university students who seek to reimagine the classic airplane meal tray to reduce waste; Dubz, a service that eliminates baggage headaches by transporting luggage to and from the airport for you; Storage-i are creators of a remote checked-baggage solution powered by a small internet of things-enabled chip; and Trip King is a unique trip planning website.
The Intelak initiative (‘intelak’ means ‘taking off’ in Arabic) initially shortlisted 18 teams that participated in a demanding week-long bootcamp. The week ended with a filmed pitching session called Cabin Pressure, similar to the popular American TV show Shark Tank.
The judging panel for Cabin Pressure included Neetan Chopra of the Emirates Group, Rania Rostom of GE, and Francisco Salcedo of Etisalat Digital. Episodes will air in the coming weeks on the founding partners’ digital channels.
GE is a natural partner to this incubator initiative, as it already is collaborating on a number of innovation and entrepreneurship initiatives in the UAE, and among other facilities, runs the GE Ecomagination Innovation Center in Abu Dhabi.
“As a judge, I have been deeply impressed by the caliber of entries and wide variety of fresh, exciting proposals,” said Rania Rostom, Chief Innovation Officer for GE in the Middle East, North Africa & Turkey. “This program reinforces what we see every day: that the UAE is nurturing a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship that is an inspiration to all.”
The four winning teams are now working from their new incubator workspaces at the Dubai Technology & Entrepreneurship Center. Over the next four months they will have received a total of AED 50,000, as key milestones are met in the journey to the further development of their ideas. They will then have the opportunity to pitch their proposals to angel investors and venture capital firms. Teams will also have potential co-creation and job opportunities with the Emirates Group, GE and Etisalat.
The program provides structured learning modules, mentors, and office hours to support the continued development of each team’s idea. Teams retain copyright of their ideas throughout the program.
GE has been a longtime partner to UAE governments and private sector companies, helping address tough challenges in the fields of oil and gas, healthcare, power and aviation by applying lean methodology, advanced technology and innovation to each project.