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The Ford Launchpad for Innovative Technologies and Entrepreneurship

About Our Program

With support from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and Southwest Airlines, the Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority 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.  

How does it work?

UVD Robot 6

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

  • Security: Enhancing the guest experience while strengthening safety and security throughout the campus.

  • Automation: Optimizing workforce resources to operate more efficiently, enhancing safety for freight and the movement of goods through distribution hubs.

  • Smart infrastructure: Deploying new technologies to optimize infrastructure resources.

  • Data analytics: Providing timely, accurate data to decision-makers.

  • Hold room of the future: Improving the experience during the time prior to boarding.

  • Safety: Improving safety of employees and equipment on the ramp, enhancing safety audits and real-time notification.


How can I apply?


It is a rolling application process, with applications being reviewed every three months. 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.

Advisory committee


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: