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FLITE

The Ford Launchpad for Innovative Technologies and Entrepreneurship

About Our Program

The Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority, in collaboration with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)Seamless VenturesSouthwest Airlines® and the West Michigan Aviation Academy, has introduced the Ford Launchpad for Innovative Technologies and Entrepreneurship, or FLITE, which provides grants and pilot-testing opportunities to companies focused on bringing emerging air travel technology solutions to market. This is one of the first airport-based initiatives in the nation that provides funding to encourage the design and development of new products and services in a live airport environment.  

Official Partners

How does it work?

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The Ford International Airport has identified six core focus areas for new technology advancements through FLITE: 

  • Automation & Analytics: Improving operational efficiency and optimization of workforce and other resources through automation and analysis of data.
  • Electrification & Sustainability: Switching fossil fuel vehicles and infrastructure to electrics and other decarbonization projects.
  • Safety & Security: Strengthening passenger and worker safety and security throughout the airport campus.
  • Door-to-Door & Terminal Guest Experience: Improving the efficiency of getting to and from the airport and improving the pre-boarding experience.
  • Advancing Aviation: Exploring the enabling infrastructure and implications of emerging commercial aviation use cases.

 

How can I apply?

The advisory committee will review and score each application. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation's Office of Future Mobility and Electrification will then schedule calls with applicants who received a high review score, before selecting and notifying the final grant recipients. Evaluation criteria includes, but is not limited to, partners, location, budget, timeline and metrics. Visit MEDC to learn more.

Applications are now being accepted through June 30, 2024, at michiganbusiness.org/mobility-funding.

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Advisory committee

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The following organizations have agreed to serve as an advisory committee for FLITE, providing feedback on the applications and pathways to scale proven and successful projects: 

Sponsor Opportunities

Interested in becoming involved with FLITE? Partner with us as we support companies pioneering the future of air travel technology. Sponsors gain access to industry insights, connect with regional and national leaders in innovation, inform and follow projects in the aviation mobility space, and more.

 

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Companies We've Worked With

Aircraft Data Fusion

Utilizing web-based cloud solutions to provide real-time passenger forecasting.
 

Aurrigo

Auto-Sim® software platform to create a “digital twin” of airside operations.

Learn more >

Cybernet Systems Corporation

Advances operational efficiencies through military and commercial products, prototypes and services.
 

Cyberworks Robotics

Retrofitting autonomous navigation technology for OEM products.
 

Dataspeed Inc.

Revolutionizing aviation operations with the Kinetic360 Autonomous Service Vehicle.
 

DD DANNAR

A mobile power station with a multi-functional, zero-emissions, configurable platform for maintenance and emergency response needs
 

Deaf AI

Training machines with artificial intelligence to use sign language to improve the experience of communicating with those who are deaf or hard of hearing.
 

EVA

Retooling EVA’s drone infrastructure to provide airport services to revolutionize baggage delivery.
 

Numina

Computer vision system that applies a privacy-by-design framework.

Prospect Airport Services

Provides air transportation services and mobility assistance to partners and passengers.
 

Renu Robotics

Revolutionizing the way aviation facilities conduct vegetation management with autonomous lawnmowers.
 

Signapse

AI technology that automatically translates written text to sign language via video.
 

Snowbotix

Develops electric robots designed for various outdoor tasks like snow removal, sidewalk cleaning, vegetation control and more.

Learn more >

Solartonic

Enhancing security resilience with autonomous smart solar-powered lighting and camera systems with reduced operating costs.
 

Spotter

Developing innovative sensor technology to help travelers identify open parking spots.
 

Sunflower Labs

Remote autonomous drone-in-a-box security system.
 

UV Angel

Using first-of-its-kind software to reduce bacteria, viruses and molds on frequently touched surfaces and in the air.
 

Volair Technologies Inc.

Flight perception technologies to support aviation operations and expand aerial mobility options.

WHILL

Autonomous mobility device.