Qantas has dropped its startup accelerator after just two rounds of programs

A screenshot from a Qantas video clip Qantas
  • Qantas has decided to close its startup accelerator program.
  • The functions carried out by the airline’s central ventures unit will devolve back to individual business units.
  • Qantas says the exercise broadened the airline’s thinking on innovation.

Qantas has dropped its venture arm and associated AVRO Accelerator, designed to boost startups and help the airline’s innovation agenda.

The accelerator, run in partnership with Slingshot, ran two 12-week programs since it was started in 2017. Five Qantas staff are affected.

Investment and alliances with startups and digital disruptors is being devolved back to the airline’s individual units.

The move was first reported in the AFR’s Street Talk column.

“We’ve had a centralised innovation team for two years and it’s seen us work closely with startups and invest in some new ideas,” Andrew McGinnes, a senior Qantas spokesman told Business Insider.

“It succeeded in broadening our thinking and now that we’ve completed the second round of our AVRO Accelerator program, we’re disbanding the centralised team and putting responsibility for innovation back into each business unit.

“We still see innovation as absolutely core to what Qantas does, and we’ll continue to focus on new frontiers like Perth-London, Project Sunrise (long-haul flying) and the new businesses that are coming out of Qantas Loyalty, like insurance and financial services.”

When launched, the accelerator was billed as an initiative to give startups the chance to work with Qantas mentors and pitch ideas to streamline the travel experience, design smarter ways of working, unlock the potential of new technologies and help solve business problems.

The program was named after the airline’s first aircraft, the Avro 504K.

Startup program participants received up to $150,000 of funding from the Slingshot Venture Fund.

Qantas also this week completed the sale of its catering business to dnata, an aviation services company that is part of the Emirates Group. The 1200 employees of are now part of dnata’s Australian operations.

The transaction was announced in April and had been subject to approval from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Q Catering has centres in four Australian ports: Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth. Snap Fresh is a state-of-the-art meal production plant in Queensland, specialising in Australian-made frozen meals for a number of airlines as well as customers in the healthcare and food retail industries.

The sale proceeds will be disclosed in Qantas’ half year accounts due to be released in February.