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‘Innovation Lab in the Sky;’ Top Innovators Deliver Solutions to Tech Talent Challenges While On Board Transatlantic British Airways Flight

June 19, 2013 Aviation No Comments Email Email

British Airways announced that its inaugural “UnGrounded Innovation Lab in the Sky” landed in London today, bringing an all-star line-up of innovators together from leading companies such as Google, IBM, Microsoft, LeanIn.org and IDEO.

British Airways Ungrounded participants brainstorm ways to close the STEM skills gap aboard a special Innovation Lab in the Sky from San Francisco to London (Photo: Business Wire)

British Airways Ungrounded participants brainstorm ways to close the STEM skills gap aboard a special Innovation Lab in the Sky from San Francisco to London (Photo: Business Wire)

The flight also featured venture firms like Innovation Endeavors and Andreessen Horowitz, as well as organizations such as Clinton Global Initiative, as participants in the world’s first innovation workshop held at 30,000 feet.

More than 130 Silicon Valley tech leaders took to the skies to collaborate, ideate and create concepts and solutions to global talent challenges impacting innovation, entrepreneurship and the economy around the world.

In just under five hours, this trailblazing group developed 22 concepts aimed to help people with STEM skills (science, technology, engineering, and math) find opportunities to utilize their talent and drive global innovation.

Flight participants explored the STEM challenge from four key angles – “fostering women in STEM;” “expanding STEM;” “meeting U.S. demand for STEM talent;” and “growing local STEM opportunities in emerging economies.”

Out of the 22 concepts developed, flight participants collectively selected one winner in each of the four exploration categories. The winning concepts will be announced and presented by UnGrounded passengers to the United Nations ITU Committee at the DNA Summit in London on Friday, June 14.

Abigail Comber, British Airways (2nd from left) with BA Advisory Board Celestine Johnson, Rhonda Abrams, Leor Stern, Duncan Logan, Marguerite Hancock and Gerald Brady (Photo: Business Wire)

Abigail Comber, British Airways (2nd from left) with BA Advisory Board Celestine Johnson, Rhonda Abrams, Leor Stern, Duncan Logan, Marguerite Hancock and Gerald Brady (Photo: Business Wire)

“Understanding the opportunities and challenges facing the technology industry, especially from a talent perspective, is critical to the continued growth of global innovation,” said Simon Talling-Smith, Executive Vice President of the Americas for British Airways. “Through UnGrounded, we had the opportunity to tap into some of the world’s most brilliant minds and demonstrate how ideas can accelerate when the right people come together.”

The UnGrounded Experience

The UnGrounded in-flight experience was developed in collaboration with global design and innovation firm IDEO. Together, British Airways and IDEO transformed a British Airways Boeing 747 into a highly collaborative and creative workspace in the sky.

Before boarding the flight in San Francisco passengers were addressed by California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, who reinforced the importance of the cause for local development. The innovators were then placed in groups and tasked with attacking the STEM challenge as part of a competitive team on board the flight.

Donning brightly colored hoodies designating their teams, flight passengers set right to work as the flight began its journey across the U.S. towards London. For five hours, passengers filled the aisles of the airplane, keeping it abuzz with energy, as they brainstormed, debated, conceptualized, illustrated and ultimately co-created tangible ideas for ‘hacking’ the STEM challenge.

The Passengers

Hand-selected for their unique background and experience, participants on board UnGrounded ranged from entrepreneurs to seasoned business leaders, venture capitalists, designers and scholars. Participants included:

Hyperlinks to Additional Info:

For more information visit www.ungroundedthinking.com, like us on Facebook, or follow us @BritishAirways and join the #BAInnovate conversation.

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