Kitty Hawk Challenge Provides Funding to Aviation Start-ups

AirNav Systems teams up with BrightCap Ventures for venture capital projects.

To help aviation start-up ventures gain financial footing post-pandemic as they develop new commercial applications that rely on ADS-B data, a partnership has been announced by AirNav Systems and BrightCap Ventures to offer funding to selected start-ups. The goal is to address the various challenges in the field of flight safety, ground and flight operations enhancements, aircraft health monitoring, aircraft operating conditions, UAV operations, and anti-UAV systems as the industry moves on from the COVID-19 crisis.

AirNav Systems is a global flight tracking and monitoring company based in Tampa, Florida, with a research and development center in Europe that provides related data to aviation service providers worldwide. BrightCap Ventures is an early-stage, tech-focused VC fund registered in the Netherlands with its main office in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Called the “Kitty Hawk Challenge,” the partnership aims to identify start-ups worldwide via a rigorous selection process that includes an in-depth review of each potential company to launch a new funding program for start-up ventures anxious to leverage ADS-B data and technology solutions.

Selected startups will receive up to €200,000 (approximately $218,000) equity funding from BrightCap Ventures. In addition to the capital and mentoring/oversight of BrightCap, these startups will also be given the opportunity to collaborate with AirNav Systems LLC to utilize the company’s available historical and real-time tracking data to best develop the technology solutions that exhibit both engineering maturity and go-to-market capabilities. Upon further progress with product commercialization, BrightCap Ventures can invest up to €3,500,000 (approximately $3,815,000) in selected startups as part of further Seed/Series A rounds.

“The aviation industry is being faced with challenges we have never seen before,” said Oleg Rakhimov, vice president business development and sales, AirNav Systems LLC. “It became obvious that conventional methods and approaches would not be enough to deliver the fastest recovery path. Broadly accepted paradigms mostly failed. The industry is looking for new solutions with non-standard algorithms embedded. AirNav Systems wanted to step in and help encourage aviation enthusiasts and professionals to share alternative views encapsulated in not-from-the-shelf software. The Kitty Hawk Challenge will stimulate new ideas that can be turned into robust anti-crisis tools to bring the aviation industry back to its highs. The AirNav Systems and BrightCap partnership are eager to use this momentum to add fuel to the startups and help them fly to save aviation.”

“Access to domain-specific, production-quality data has always been a challenge for startups,” said Georgi Mitov, Managing Partner, BrightCap Ventures. “The customers provide such data, but many of the early-stage startups don’t have customers yet and can’t use such data to develop and test their product, so this becomes a ‘catch-22’ situation. Our partnership with AirNav will allow selected startups to leverage our entrepreneurial and domain-specific experience, combined with access to production quality ADS-B data, to develop next-gen solutions for the aviation industry. This setup makes us very enthusiastic about the Kitty Hawk Challenge and our partnership with AirNav.”

BrightCap Ventures’ Mitov explained, “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,” he said.

For more information, visit Companies interested in being considered should submit their investor pitch decks to


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