Aerospace business accelerator – Encouraging entrepreneurship in the aerospace sector
Cross-industry start-up accelerator -aims to foster digital innovation
Innovation in the aerospace sector
This exposure is crucial for start-ups if they are to successfully make inroads into the aerospace sector.
Through its association with Airbus, NUMA is building its expertise in operating co-working spaces targeted at niche technology-focused SGBs.
Programme structure and chain of impact The following table contains information on the process chain elements (namely the programme structure, scouting method, performance
assessment and criteria for success) and elements of the results chain (namely output, outcome and impact). The unique feature of this accelerator model is that it also supports SGBs operating outside the aerospace domain to tailor their solutions towards the requirements of the aerospace industry.
Programme structure Business accelerator model tailored to aerospace projects (non-residential programme) over six months Non-funding support
• Access to coaches, experts and mentors in various domains (including aerospace technology knowledge, law, finance, and marketing and communications), with mentors and experts sourced internally by Airbus and NUMA, and also mentors sourced externally with the assistance of Zinnov and Kyron (accelerator services)
• Infrastructure: office space (co-working spaces) and access to prototyping and testing facilities
• Implementation support
• Market linkages: access to the market and the non-aerospace innovation ecosystem for enhanced learning and networking
• Access to partner facilities’ ecosystems and networks
• Access to the entrepreneurial community within Airbus
The acceleration programme is based on the Lean Start-up methodology, which involves developing and adapting products and businesses by creating a minimum viable product (MVP), then gathering frequent customer feedback or ‘validated learning’ to finesse the offer.
• Post-programme support in terms of access to Airbus’s decision-makers, venture capitalists, customers and partners
Scouting method • Airbus publishes information in the public domain, including on the F6S platform, and holds rounds of open applications for
o early-stage SGBs in the aerospace domain and
o SGBs that have established product or service offerings in non-aerospace domains
• Subsequently, a screening committee, which includes Airbus’s Chief Innovation Officer and the Head of Airbus BizLab, selects ideas that fit with the programme’s three pillars: customer desirability, solution feasibility and business viability
• A month-long evaluation is then carried out to assess the maturity and relevance of applicants Performance
assessment • Once the six-month acceleration programme completes, a ‘diagnosis session’ is held to discuss progress
• Successful start-ups are invited to attend a demo day
Criteria for success • The successful creation of relevant technology-based product or service solutions and the identification of new customers in the aerospace and aviation sectors
• Funding is raised during the 18 months they are enrolled in the programme
• Adoption of the product/technology solution within Airbus Group Programme history • Number of SGBs supported so far: three (initiated in 2015)
• Number of successful SGBs: n/a
• Tentative approach for scaling up or deepening engagements: using the Bengaluru BizLab facility to address entrepreneurial support requirements in the Asia-Pacific region
• Provision of support to SGBs that are seeking to promote products in the aerospace sector through market access and business opportunities
• Finalisation of product and business model, and business opportunities
• Gaps in experience, exposure and marketing knowledge addressed
• Access to experts and mentors
• Specific focus on the aerospace domain and a tailored support structure to speed up product development and enhance product reach
• Accelerated scaling up of SGBs
High involvement Low involvement
Airbus BizLab: The incentive for Airbus to engage with external start-ups is (a) the exposure it offers to innovation occurring outside the company and (b) the opportunity to infuse start- up thinking and entrepreneurial spirit into Airbus’s corporate culture.
SGBs: Since the SGBs are either early-stage start-ups or operating in the non-aerospace domain, the benefits of participating in this engagement are significant in terms of increasing their learning.
NUMA: Collaborating with Airbus enabled NUMA to expand its support to SGBs operating in the niche aerospace sector and its related domains such as heavy engineering and automotive technology. As NUMA also supports SGBs operating in diverse domains, the SGBs that are affiliated with NUMA interact with peers in other domains and gain exposure to innovative practices, which enriches their learning and experience.
Assessment of the engagement model Strengths
The aerospace sector is technology- and effort- intensive, particularly with respect to accessing and understanding customer requirements and to the lengthy certification processes involved.
Through this engagement, the corporate can offer aerospace-sector-specific mentoring to SGBs
covering the technical and procedural aspects of the aerospace domain, while benefiting from exposure to new ways of working and ideation.
This is a successful example of an engagement model that is primarily based on non-funding, multi-stakeholder support, which means it will be easier to replicate in different markets and geographic areas.
This model can be replicated for corporate–
SGB engagements in technology-intensive sectors such as medical health care, automotive technology, etc.
Since the focus is niche, non-programme-related causes (failure to gain relevant certification, poor acceptability among consumers, etc.) are high- risk factors for SGBs and can lead to failure.
Therefore, a robust ‘learning from failures’
approach is required to enhance the effectiveness of the programme.
This model highlights how corporates can benefit from actively seeking to gain exposure to innovative practices being developed inside of their own sector by engaging with SGBs and multiple intermediaries operating in this sector.