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Fly Your Ideas: a launchpad for innovative ideas and a toolkit for innovators

Mar 30, 2018


Innovation is at the heart of Airbus’ story – from the first twin-engine wide body aircraft to urban air mobility vehicles and electrically propelled telecom satellites. Over 5 editions of Fly Your Ideas to date, the next generation of student innovators have seized the opportunity to work alongside and innovate with our experts for the future of aeronautics. But taking part in the competition – and striving for a place on the final podium – is just the beginning. Whether it’s back in the classroom, working for a start-up, an industry leader or setting up their own companies, former Fly Your Ideas participants are putting their skills and experience to use.

For some, the process of innovating and designing for the competition was just the first step in the process of creating a market-ready product. Back in 2015, Team ReTrolley made it to the final with their idea for a cabin-compliant service trolley that facilitated recycling. Team member Lucas explains that, “The Retrolley project has really changed my life after the competition, because the idea had a chance to finally go to the market with Airbus support. Now I help other companies innovate in their business using design.” For 2015’s Team Grossomodo, Fly Your Ideas was an important milestone for another reason, as member Mario tells us. “We published the results in two papers, building credibility with the scientific community. This motivated us to continue developing our idea and we are now testing the feasibility of our approach on real working scenarios.”

For other Fly Your Ideas alumni, the long hours and hard work that goes into developing a great idea led to fruitful professional partnerships. Team 03’s Gowri tells us that, following the 2011 competition, he and teammate Avarvind set up a social enterprise together, which won the Indian ‘Best App for Social Good’ award in 2014. Michael from 2009’s Team Coz reflects on how his team’s idea for plant-based high performance composite materials for aircraft cabin components inspired his next venture. “We are pursuing concepts related to the idea – for example, we are working with a company on the development of a truly bio-degradable coffee cup. I have also co-founded a company which is active in the agri-material sector and is listed on the Australian stock exchange.”

Getting a real understanding of how innovation works in a large global company like Airbus is undoubtedly valuable for Fly Your Ideas participants. Anil from 2017’s Team Aquarius emphasises how important this was. “Visiting Airbus’ headquarters in Toulouse gave me exposure to how large aircraft manufacturers operate. And more importantly, how industry innovates to incept an idea. Coming from a research background, the experience really helped me refine my perspective of research and aircraft design.” Geoffrey from 2009 Team Stanford ADG, now Chief Engineer for Airbus’ Vahana project says that the learning never stops; “Continuous learning is also vitally important, especially for Vahana, where we are incorporating non-traditional aerospace technologies like electric propulsion and machine learning.” 

Will Fly Your Ideas deepen your interest in a specific area, unlock new ideas or provide a launchpad for your own start-up? If you’re excited about innovation and contributing to the future of aeronautics, then stay tuned for the next Fly Your Ideas challenge. Sign up to our newsletter to be the first to find out more!