Dublin-based Whispr secures spot in IAG’s Hangar 51 accelerator

18 Oct 2019

An airline worker beside an Iberia plane. Image: Tobias Arhelger/Stock.adobe.com

Whispr will spend 10 weeks working with Spanish airline Iberia in Madrid after securing a spot in IAG’s accelerator programme.

Today (18 October), Whispr announced that it will be taking part in the International Airlines Group’s (IAG) accelerator programme, Hangar 51.

The start-up, which was founded by Dubliner Hugh O’Flanagan and Keith Saft, also announced that it has landed three commercial contracts, including deals with Nordic co-living business LifeX, Radisson Blu and Danish facilities services company Duuo.

Almost 500 companies from 50 countries around the world applied to take part in the Hangar 51 accelerator and Whispr is one of 13 start-ups that successfully made the cut.

IAG, the parent company of Aer Lingus, British Airways and Avios, launched the accelerator to give start-ups and scale-ups the opportunity to develop their businesses by accessing its airlines’ resources, expertise and venture capital.

Whispr was founded in August 2018 and has offices in Copenhagen and Dublin. It has developed a voice guidance platform that is designed to help front-line workers be hands-free and carry out manual tasks more effectively.

The technology is built on natural language processing and AI. The company says that its application “literally whispers instructions and smart checklists into the workers’ ears as they do their jobs, from carrying out aircraft inspections and repair work, to cleaning a hotel room or office”.

Accelerator opportunity

While taking part in the accelerator, Whispr will be partnering with IAG brand and Spain’s biggest airline, Iberia. The start-up will use its AI voice technology to help increase the speed and efficiency of aircraft turnarounds and help digitise its currently paper-led inspection processes.

Six months ago, Whispr closed a $750,000 pre-seed investment backed by Seedcamp and the venture arm of audio giant, Bose. The start-up is now preparing a second fundraise earmarked for 2020.

O’Flanagan, CEO of Whispr, said: “We are thrilled to join this year’s Hangar 51 accelerator. The recognition from IAG, one of the world’s largest airline groups, is further validation of what we have built at Whispr and will add rocket fuel to our platform.

“With airlines increasingly looking at ways to streamline operations and embracing ways to digitise their processes, this is an incredible opportunity for our young business.”

For the next 10 weeks, Whispr will work with mentors and experts from IAG, who will help the start-up test its product in live environments on a global scale in the context of aviation. The accelerator offers the opportunity to receive investment from IAG’s multimillion-pound digital fund.

The start-up will be based in Madrid for the duration of the accelerator programme. Whispr will partner with Iberia Maintenance, the airline’s maintenance, repair and overhaul company, with the aim of transforming the laborious aircraft inspection documentation process on a new fleet of Airbus 350s.

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic