Innovations

Airbus BizLab – Where Ideas Take-Off

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As part of a company-wide effort to enhance its innovation process, Airbus operates a global network of accelerator facilities – called Airbus BizLabs – to speed up the transformation of ground-breaking ideas into valuable business propositions, all within an extended innovation eco-system.

This set-up – an important resource at a time of intensified competition – has two primary methods for meeting its goal: accelerating the pace at which Airbus commercializes its own innovations; and drawing upon and developing more ideas from outside Airbus, including customers and companies from other business sectors.

An Airbus BizLab provides wide-ranging support for early-stage projects in the form of a six-month acceleration program, through which entrepreneurs, start-up businesses and Airbus employee “intrapreneurs” are given access to a large number of coaches, experts and mentors across various domains – including technology, legal, finance, marketing and communications, easing prototyping and market access.

An Innovative Approach

While Airbus is not the first major company to develop new ways of innovating by opening access to an extended ecosystem, there are several key elements that set its BizLab network apart from the rest.

First and foremost is the “hybrid” concept, mixing internal and external participants to foster an innovative culture and promote an entrepreneurial/intrapreneurial ethos throughout Airbus. This enables the company to work efficiently with start-ups, while simultaneously allowing smaller structures to better understand the needs and methods of large groups.

In doing so, Airbus enhances its own access to – and knowledge of – the latest ideas, technologies and ways of working for the aerospace sector and beyond. Company employees, accustomed to working as part of a large enterprise, also learn from entrepreneurs adept at bringing new ideas to market as rapidly as possible.

How it Works

After receiving applications from entrepreneurs, Airbus intrapreneurs and start-up companies, the most promising ideas are selected by a screening committee that includes Airbus Chief Innovation Officer Yann Barbaux and Bruno Gutierres, Head of Airbus BizLabs.

From here, the selected projects are given the resources needed to become a commercial reality – beginning with the six-month tailored acceleration programme focused on team qualification, customer desirability, business viability and solution feasibility; which is achieved through mentoring and coaching, communication with experts, participation in “learn and act” workshops, a demo day to raise funding and various experimentation tools.

The additional resources include co-working spaces at Airbus facilities, access to an extended innovation ecosystem, participation in an open entrepreneurial community and, eventually, an implementation program to prepare the hand-off strategy.

A Growing Network

In developing its BizLab concept, Airbus leveraged the experience of start-up support programs from other sectors – having forged collaborations with such companies as Microsoft Ventures, Orange Fab, Google and Techstars Boston.

The company operates a worldwide network of three BizLab accelerators, with locations in Europe and India. The first Airbus BizLab was formally inaugurated in Toulouse, France, followed by a second accelerator opened in Hamburg, Germany, and then a third BizLab in Bangalore, India – which is co-located with NUMA, France’s biggest business accelerator.