Miami-Dade Innovation Authority Launches Second Public Innovation Challenge in Collaboration with Miami International Airport

Initiative makes six-figure equity investments across early-to-growth stage companies with innovative technology to improve passenger experience in the areas of accessibility, navigation, and sustainability

MIAMI–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Miami-Dade Innovation Authority, Inc. (“MDIA”), a nonprofit that works to strengthen the relationship between local government and technology companies as a way to improve the quality of life for Miami-Dade County residents, today launched its second Public Innovation Challenge.

Kicking off Thursday, December 7, MDIA is seeking proposals from both local and global technology companies that offer new and creative solutions to improve the airport experience for both passengers and staff across several specific focus areas. In collaboration with Miami International Airport (MIA) and Miami-Dade County, MDIA will select at least three (3) early-to-growth stage technology start-ups and provide $100,000 in funding to each company to support testing of solutions at the airport, so they can be scaled to airports globally afterwards. The deadline to submit proposals is Friday, January 19, 2024. To submit, please visit:

“MDIA’s second public innovation challenge is not just about transforming travel; it’s about elevating MIA, one of the 10 most transited airports in the country and the largest gateway to our community,” said Leigh-Ann A. Buchanan, President & CEO of MDIA. “By prioritizing the airport experience, we pave the way for improved connectivity and equitable accessibility, fostering a more vibrant and interconnected community. A well-equipped, sustainable airport opens doors to opportunities, enriching the lives of every resident and visitor.”

Among the world’s most forward-thinking airports in elevating the passenger experience, MIA is building upon existing initiatives with the Public Innovation Challenge. This includes myMIAccess, an award-winning dedicated online platform connecting passengers with accessibility services and amenities. Simultaneously, MIA is undertaking Florida’s largest-ever energy conservation project to align with Miami-Dade County’s Climate Action Strategy and reduce environmental impact.

This Public Innovation Challenge seeks solutions in the following categories:

  • Accessibility Assistive technologies, including those built to improve the passenger experience for those with reduced mobility, and travelers with different physical and hidden disabilities, such as travelers who are neurodivergent, and/or who experience mental health conditions like PTSD.
  • Navigation – Wayfinding solutions that allow passengers to navigate the airport more effectively and seamlessly. Solutions may include technologies such as digital displays, virtual reality maps, omnichannel support and chat including AI, navigation instructions in various languages including sign language, and many more.
  • Sustainability – Recycling solutions ranging from AI-enabled and autonomous recycling onsite, signage and support for distinguishing recyclable materials from trash, automatic waste data collection, solutions to reduce single-use plastics and waste through promoting consumer behavior change, and incentivizing reuse and recycling.

“As the top economic engine for Miami-Dade County, and one of our largest employers directly and indirectly supporting a quarter of all local jobs, MIA’s success impacts the livelihoods of local residents and businesses more than any other asset in our community,” said Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. “Under my administration we are making historic capital investments to make sure our airport is future-ready to offer the best service to our visitors and residents for generations to come. This Public Innovation Challenge will further our mission to unlock MIA’s full potential by partnering with innovators that will help it grow as both a sustainability leader and a global example of public private innovation leading to better customer outcomes.”

In addition to the six-figure investments, selected companies will participate in a product testing program directly with MIA. MDIA will oversee each testing process and will work closely with the portfolio companies to publish a report on the outcomes and results, as well as activate its network of partners and resources to publicize the report and key findings.

“The MIA team is thrilled to partner with MDIA on the Public Innovation Challenge. By tapping into the creativity of the global technology community, we aim to enhance accessibility, convenience, and sustainability at our airport to better serve our growing number of passengers,” said MIA Director and CEO Ralph Cutié. “Through an open innovation format allowing anyone to submit ideas, we look forward to piloting cutting-edge solutions that make travel efficient and inclusive for our diverse travelers. Most importantly, we aspire to create an airport environment championing sustainability across operations.”

Launched in 2023 with seed funding from Miami-Dade County, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Citadel Founder and CEO Ken Griffin, MDIA was founded with equal private, public and philanthropic funding totaling $9 million. The Public Innovation Challenge comes on the heels of MDIA’s first initiative to find sustainable uses for Sargassum seaweed, furthering their mission to address Miami-Dade’s most urgent needs around health, housing, climate, transportation, and equitable access to education and opportunity.

With annual plans to launch three public challenges and distribute more than $1 million in funding, MDIA aims to create a replicable blueprint for civic innovation that can be modeled by other cities and municipalities around the world to drive improvements in the quality of life for their residents. As with all business and economic development opportunities, Miami-Dade County is committed to supporting the growth of diverse businesses and advocating for equitable participation of minority and women entrepreneurs in economic opportunities.

To learn more about The Miami-Dade Innovation Authority, Inc. please visit:

About The Miami-Dade Innovation Authority, Inc. 

The Miami-Dade Innovation Authority, Inc. (“MDIA”) is an independent non-profit founded as an outcome of collaboration between Miami-Dade County and key technology leaders to develop a vehicle to strengthen the relationship between the economic engines of Miami-Dade County and technology companies with innovative solutions that improve the quality of life for residents. MDIA bridges the gap between private innovators and the public sector to fast track innovation that improves quality of life for Miamians. They identify, invest and support early-to-growth stage companies from across the globe to pilot, test and validate their technology and solutions to pressing public challenges. This approach: (1) de-risks future capital investment, (2) accelerates the pace of discovery and commercialization of market-ready technology solutions, and (3) clears the pathway to revenue based venture growth startups.

About Miami International Airport (MIA) 

MIA is America’s busiest airport for international freight and second busiest for international passengers, offers more flights to Latin America and the Caribbean than any other U.S. airport, and boasts a lineup of over 90 air carriers. MIA is also the leading economic engine for Miami-Dade County and the state of Florida, generating business revenue of $31.9 billion annually and approximately 60 percent of all international visitors to Florida.



Alana Zeilander

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