British Airways owner IAG's accelerator programme takes off as it backs two startups Esplorio and Vchain

Rebecca Smith
IAG's innovation push is ready for take-off with its two new investments
IAG's innovation push is ready for take-off with its two new investments (Source: IAG)

British Airways owner IAG has announced its plans to invest in two startups after launching its new global accelerator programme Hangar 51 at the end of last year.

Four firms hoping to crack the aviation industry were selected to spend 10 weeks working in IAG's headquarters in January from around 450 applicants, and given the opportunity to trial their products globally earlier this year.

IAG has now chosen Esplorio and Vchain from those startups to continue working with the group to further develop their products.

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They will also receive funding from IAG's multimillion pound investment fund for digital transformation, though the aviation giant would not disclose further detail on how much it will be plugging into the two companies. It also plans to run accelerator programmes in the future after the success of its first version.

Esplorio is an app that records and shares travel experiences in a simple way, and Vchain provides blockchain technology that builds patent-pending digital identity SaaS (software as a service). Vchain tech helps customers to have control over their data and get through airports faster.

The firm said around half of passengers make mistakes when submitting passenger information to airlines before their flights, which then have to be manually corrected at the airport.

It has developed a prototype that automatically detects these errors and enables immediate corrections online. Over the coming months, these live tests will be rolled out into a full commercial product for IAG.

During the Hangar 51 accelerator, Esplorio recorded cabin crew adventures and is now working with IAG to provide more ways for customers to capture their travel memories.

Read more: IAG has named the high-flying startups for its first accelerator programme

Stephen Scott, IAG's head of global innovation, said: "Hangar 51 has been a fantastic opportunity to work on business challenges together, combining IAG's industry expertise with the startups' speed and agility.

"The two companies we are investing in have the potential to add great value, rich content to our customers and operational efficiencies."

This has been our first global accelerator programme and it will definitely not be our last.

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