BA plans living lab in the sky

16 May 2013 by GrahamSmith

In partnership with the United Nations and DNA (Decide Now Act), British Airways has launched a programme it calls Ungrounded, aimed at solving the “misalignment of talent” visible around the world.

Described as the “first-ever innovation lab in the sky” it is “designed to connect Silicon Valley’s most notable business leaders and creative minds for the purpose of tackling challenges that affect the next generation of global innovators”.

BA UnGrounded

The first flight will take place “aboard a private British Airways flight from San Francisco to London” this summer, with UnGrounded participants addressing the misalignment between where science and technology talent is emerging and where opportunity exists for talent to realise their potential.

They will be tasked with designing a platform to inspire and connect this talent with civic and commercial opportunities, to accelerate innovation in communities around the world.

Upon landing in London the group will present their work to a like-minded group of global thought leaders to decide how to put this into action. The Ungrounded flight experience will be designed by innovation firm, IDEO.

Names of those reportedly participating are:

• Todd Lutwak of Andreessen Horowitz
• Leor Stern of IFTTT
• Celestine Johnson of Innovation Endeavors
• Duncan Logan of RocketSpace
• Gerald Brady of Silicon Valley Bank
• Marguerite Gong Hancock of SPRIE, Stanford Graduate School of Business
• Rhonda Abrams of The Planning Shop

BA says that the programme is part of a larger initiative to open the door to collaboration with the start-up community in Silicon Valley. The airline recently joined RocketSpace, an open innovation campus in the heart of San Francisco, and will be actively engaging with the start-up community through the RocketSpace Corporate Innovation Program.

Simon Talling-Smith, EVP of the Americas for British Airways said: ”The great thing about getting 100 hand-selected innovators together and locking them up in a plane is they are shut off from the rest of the world.”

For more information, visit

Report by Tom Otley

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