HOUSTON INNOVATORS PODCAST EPISODE 212
Houston corporate venture leader calls for collaboration across sustainable fuel, innovation community
When it comes to the future of aviation — namely, making it more sustainable, a rising tide lifts all boats. Or, in this case, planes.
Andrew Chang, managing director of United Airlines Ventures, explains that working together is the key for advancing sustainable aviation fuel, or SAF. That's why United Airlines started the Sustainable Flight Fund, a $200 million initiative with support from industry leaders, including Air Canada, Boeing, GE Aerospace, JPMorgan Chase, Honeywell, Aramco Ventures, Bank of America, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Ventures, and several others.
"We all recognize that we may compete in our core business, but with the importance of sustainable aviation fuel and given that it's an industry that doesn't exist — you can't compete for something that doesn't exist — let's collaborate and work together to explore technologies that can directly or indirectly support the commercialization and production of sustainable aviation fuel," he says on the Houston Innovators Podcast.
Within United Airline Ventures, Chang's job is to find technology to invest in across the aviation industry spectrum — from SAF to digital technologies that will improve the United customer experience. This means working with startups and other organizations to find the best fit — and, because he's based in Houston, one of United's seven key hubs, this means knowing and interacting with local innovators.
"The knowledge base and the capabilities are here — that's undebatable," Chang says of the Houston innovation ecosystem. "The next step is making sure we're accessing, promoting, collaborating, and learning from one another."
Again, as Chang recognizes, collaboration is key to further developing the ecosystem, "so that we're not trying to solve the same problem in a vacuum," he explains.
United Airlines recently signed an offtake agreement with Cemvita Factory, a Houston biotech startup that's working on SAF. Chang discusses this partnership on the show, as well as explaining how he works with other startups and what he's looking for.