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Challenge seeks to leverage ADS-B data, technologyChallenge seeks to leverage ADS-B data, technology

AirNav partners with venture capital firmAirNav partners with venture capital firm

AirNav Systems, a global flight tracking and monitoring company, has announced a partnership with BrightCap Ventures—an early stage, tech-focused venture capital firm based in Bulgaria—to launch the Kitty Hawk Challenge, a funding program for startup ventures that will leverage ADS-B data and technology solutions. Companies selected should expect to conduct some development and engineering activities in Bulgaria.

AirNav Systems, which operates the flight tracking website, is working with BrightCap Ventures on the Kitty Hawk Challenge, to fund tech start-ups that leverage ADS-B data. Courtesy of

The program intends to select startups addressing challenges in areas including flight safety, ground and flight operations enhancements, aircraft health monitoring, aircraft operating conditions, unmanned aerial vehicle operations, and anti-UAV systems by utilizing innovative technology solutions that rely on ADS-B data. Ventures should have a goal of developing commercial applications of ADS-B data that will enhance aviation safety or develop meaningful insights for aviation and aerospace industry leaders, and that have large market potential. 

The partnership plans to identify startups through a selection process that includes an in-depth review of each applicant along with the product’s value proposition, market size, and potential competitors. AirNav Systems said it will work closely with BrightCap Ventures during the review and evaluation process.

Selected startups will receive up to 200,000 euros (about $220,000) in equity funding from BrightCap, established in 2018 in the Netherlands with its main office in Sofia, Bulgaria. BrightCap said it invests in startups with defensible technology and aggressively pushes them to pursue global market domination, while maintaining a sizable part of their engineering in Bulgaria. They will be able to utilize AirNav Systems’ historical and real-time tracking data to develop their technology. BrightCap said in further rounds it can invest up to 3.5 million euros (about $3.85 million) in selected startups.

“Given the current state of our economic world due to the coronavirus pandemic, particularly in the aviation industry, businesses may very well need nonstandard solutions to revive operations as quickly as possible at low costs,” said Andre Brandao, president of AirNav Systems. “This partnership will enable us to extend the reach of our technology capabilities even further. As a team made of computer science engineers and airline pilots, we are thrilled to support these [kinds] of innovations for the industry.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic and the ‘new normal’ economic environment represents a massive challenge for the aviation industry. At the same time, the crisis offers an exceptional opportunity for creative startups to help reboot and redefine the transportation industry,” said Georgi Mitov, managing partner at BrightCap Ventures. “Many successful companies are born during turbulent times. The new economic outlook will encourage companies to look for smart and cost-efficient ways to run their operation. Our partnership with AirNav will allow startups to benefit from our entrepreneurial experience and leverage the benefits which Bulgaria has to offer as [an] R&D destination, helping startups develop world-class products with excellent talent at a competitive cost.”

More information on the Kitty Hawk Challenge, including application packages and submission information, is available online.

Mike Collins

Mike Collins

Technical Editor
Mike Collins has worked for AOPA’s media network since 1994. He holds a private pilot certificate with an instrument rating.
Topics: ADSB

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