Leonardo in Takeoff: the start-up acceleration programme

22 December 2022

The Takeoff start-up acceleration programme for the space, aeronautics and advanced hardware sectors, in which Leonardo is a corporate partner, has just selected the first best projects. Submissions are now being accepted for the second edition.

Reached the first milestone of Takeoff, the acceleration programme dedicated to start-ups in the aerospace, aeronautics and advanced hardware sectors in which Leonardo, as corporate partner, is one of the protagonists. Approximately ten start-ups have been selected from a shortlist of twenty candidates, who presented projects in different areas of expertise: digital solutions for aircraft and the aeronautical services of tomorrow; new human/machine interaction and pilot training solutions; new 3D printing solutions for components made of composite materials; advanced mechanical systems to support the application of hydrogen and the fuel cells of tomorrow; innovative satellite applications and services, and advanced aerial logistics and unmanned aircraft solutions.

After five months of training, mentorship and assistance in the creation of proof of concept and pilot projects, an initiative supported by Leonardo and the accelerator’s other industrial partners, the founders of the start-ups had the opportunity to present their prototypes and concepts at the Takeoff Expo event, held at OGR in Turin. The presentation event of the winning projects also provided an opportunity to remind the audience that submissions are now being accepted for the second round of Takeoff accelerator start-ups nominations, which will be presented in October 2023.

Watch the video of the Takeoff Expo event

Supporting the growth of start-ups and the development of highly innovative projects, both through specific internal initiatives (Call for Entrepreneurship) and among the public (Business Innovation Factory), is one of the goals of the Be Tomorrow Leonardo 2030 strategic plan for sustainable long-term growth in the field of innovation in the creation of new technologies and high-tech markets.

Takeoff not only represents an opportunity for talent scouting, but also for Leonardo to lay down the roots for the up-and-coming companies of tomorrow, supporting product innovation in the company’s fields of interest, while applying an ecosystem logic founded on new ideas and solutions and agile, rapid approaches to product demos and the transition from proof of concept to the market. Leonardo’s Unmanned Systems unit is a key promoter of this specialist Italian accelerator for the Turinese aerospace industry. A project that the company believes provides two important opportunities: attracting investments in technologies that are of key interest to the company’s line of business, and laying the foundation for the development of an ecosystem that is in synergy with the future Aerospace City. Very remarkable is also the added value from the support to the accelerator and from the collaboration activities established by the Aircraft Division - main financial supporter of the initiative - with the startups, as broad in general is the integration of TAKEOFF within the Divisional strategy of innovation and digitization. Leonardo Aircraft Division, as industrial partner of TAKEOFF, is supporting the implementation of its Innovation and Digital Transformation strategy, feeding the network dedicated to the fixed wing, the Future Flight Leonardo Innovation Network – F2LINK, through the identification of key startups for the technological growth of its products and processes. The goal is to guide the most interesting startups in their growth path and establish collaborations with them in order to prospectively integrate their innovative value proposition to complement and expand the corporate business.
The opportunities that will emerge from TAKEOFF will support the fixed-wing business on large streams of innovation, such as flight and mission autonomy, pilot performance monitoring, advanced man-machine interface and more in general the digitization of company processes and programs.

Every three years, the Takeoff programme selects up to ten start-ups in the pre-seed and seed stages, providing them with the opportunity to access a five-month acceleration programme, organised by various project partners to guide them in the definition of their business model and help them identify their market and the best sales strategy for achieving their goals.

Takeoff has a total of 21 million euro to invest in the growth of companies across the territory (both Italian and overseas companies based in Italy) that specialise in aerospace and advanced hardware. Through the Italian Accelerator Fund, Takeoff was launched in April 2022 by CDP Venture Capital; Fondazione CRT; Fondazione Sviluppo e Crescita CRT (Foundation for Growth and Development) and UniCredit, together with co-investor and operational manager the Plug And Play Tech Center; OGR Torino as innovation & networking partner; institutional partner Unione Industriali Torino, and corporate partners Leonardo and AVIO.