easyJet will invest millions in tech startups with Founders Factory

Lynsey Barber
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Tech inovation will take off at easyJet (Source: Getty)

easyJet is the latest established business tapping tech talent to boost innovation, partnering with the high-profile London-based startup accelerator and incubator Founders Factory.

The airline is the sixth corporate backer of the startup hot house created by renowned entrepreneurs Brent Hoberman and Henry Lane Fox - both of Lastminute.com fame - with the ambitious goal of creating 200 successful startups over the next five years.

The carrier, itself a disrupter to the industry when it first hit the runway in 1995, will plough a multimillion pound sum into the project, backing startups disrupting the travel sector.

Read more: This UK startup using AI for compliance just raised millions

That will include investing in and helping scale five early stage startups each year, as well as co-founding two companies itself.

“Connecting the talented easyJet team with the next generation of disruptive entrepreneurs will only continue to drive fresh thinking and uncover new opportunities," said easyJet chief executive Dame Carolyn McCall.

Hoberman added: “We are confident that together we can support the next generation of innovators in travel leveraging digital scale, data, personalisation, virtual reality, artificial intelligence (AI), ecommerce breakthroughs and fintech."

It joins five other corporate backers working with Founders Factory, including Aviva for fintech, L'Oreal for beauty technology and a deal with China's CSC inked just last week to foster startups working on AI.

Read more: What Brexit? UK startup funding has bucked a global slowdown

“easyJet coming into Founders Factory as our sixth and final corporate investor represents a critical milestone," said Henry Lane Fox.

"With some of the leading brands and audience owners in the world as investors, we are able to execute on our vision of exploiting new emerging technologies to redefine industries."

It has also done deals with Holtzbrinck publishing group in the area of education and the Guardian Media Group in media.

The investment comes as the latest figures indicated a feared slowdown in startup funding has not occurred after Brexit, with the value of money being ploughed into the UK's VC-backed startups bucking a global downturn.

Meanwhile, the capital's reputation as a global leader in tech was handed another seal of approval on Friday. London has been chosen as the location for a $100bn tech investment fund set up by Japan's SoftBank and Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund. SoftBank earlier this year acquired the UK chip maker Arm in a deal worth £24.3bn.

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