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Tech roundup: International Airline Group opens Hangar 51 aviation accelerator

Summer’s over. Vacations are done (till Christmas). It’s time to get down to work.

Apple, Google, Amazon and the other American digital giants have snapped up their biggest tech European rivals, and are now zeroing in on the secondary and tertiary markets. That would include Naples, which is better known for great pizza and not-so-great driving. But first, this is one of the cooler news releases we’ve gotten lately.

Every industry vertical, it appears, wants to have its own startup. First it was computer companies, then banks and now the airlines.

• International Airline Group jumps in the startup game

iag-logoThe holding company for British Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus just launched Hangar 51, a 10-week global startup accelerator in London. Hangar 51 is looking for start-ups developing “next generation” travel experiences and solutions for the aviation sector, according to the Aer Lingus blog. (And someone at IAG has a sense of humor with a play on Area 51, the secret Air Force skunk works/alien earth station at Nellis Air Force Base.)

According to the blog, the accelerator will focus on:

  1. Improving airport processes, such as making travelers’ journeys easier
  2. Developing digital tools and processes to make the business more efficient
  3. Finding new ways for data to increase customer satisfaction and create business value
  4. And a wild card for ideas that improve the customer experience.

screen-shot-2016-10-11-at-7-41-13-amYou need to check out the Hangar 51 website just to see how sophisticated this effort seems to be. Oh, and to apply. Which you can do here. The deadline is 6 November, so don’t delay.

To give you some idea of the financial resources behind this effort, IAG has 541 aircraft flying to 274 destinations and carrying almost 95 million passengers each year. It’s the third largest group in Europe behind Lufthansa and RyanAir, and the sixth largest in the world, ranked by revenue.

• Apple opens in Naples

The Guardian and several other outlets have solid posts about Apple’s brand new academy that just opened in Italy … in what appears to be a God-forsaken neighborhood in Naples. The first-of-its-kind academy will teach 200 (mostly southern) Italian students how to write code and launch apps on Apple technology. All for free. (Apple is footing the 10 million euro bill.)

The Guardian post is especially interesting in that it points out both how the innovation comes as Apple is battling EU officials over its sweetheart deal in Ireland, and how secretive Apple executives are about, well, everything.

• IBM, Facebook opening new operations in Denmark

As if Copenhagen didn’t already have enough cool stuff, IBM is opening an innovation center there. IBM Denmark will hire 250 people during the next two years, according to officials at the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The center is scheduled to be open 1 January, 2017.

Facebook also has heard Denmark is where the cool kids hang out. Various and sundry Danish pubs are predicting Facebook will build a 184,000-square-foot data center near Odense, a couple of hundred kilometers west of Copenhagen. This will be Facebook’s third data center outside the United States. The Silicon Valley-based digital media behemoth has a data center in Sweden and one under construction in Ireland.

• Distro Dojo in Berlin

Silicon Valley-based 500 Startups has a new growth marketing program in Berlin. “Distro Dojo” is a three-month program aimed at post-seed startups in need of marketing expertise as they gear up for a Series A. 500 Startups also makes a $200,000 investment in each startup (minus a $50,000 program fee) in return for negotiated equity points. Get the full story here on TechCrunch.

• Why Silicon Valley owns the world

Not to depress you or anything, but here’s why Silicon Valley always wins …. It’s called “risk capital,” which is in short supply in Europe. Greylock Partners, one of the biggest of the biggies along with Sand Hill Road firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and A16Z, just announced it has closed its 15th fund, with $1 billion in early stage investment capital.

Greylock is looking for consumer businesses that network people, enterprise-focused products and platforms that increase productivity and “emerging technologies like messaging, virtual reality, machine learning, and robotics,” Greylock Partners posted on their blog. The Menlo Park-based VC firm now has about $3.5 billion under management. Greylock’s portfolio includes Facebook, Airbnb, GoFundMe and Dropbox. You’ve heard of those, right?

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