Miami-Dade Innovation Authority opens 2nd $100K challenge: Improving the MIA experience through tech innovation

How can Miami International Airport better serve its residents and visitors? How can technology, such as AI, improve the passenger and worker experience at MIA, one of the nation’s business airports and the county’s top economic engine?

The  Miami-Dade Innovation Authority is a nonprofit brings together local government and technology companies to improve the quality of life for Miami-Dade County residents. Today it has launched its second Public Innovation Challenge, and tech startups could be awarded $100K to develop their innovative solutions. 

MDIA is now accepting 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 three specific focus areas.

According to a press release, they are:

  • 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.

MDIA will select at least three early-stage or growth-stage technology startups and provide $100,000 in funding to each company. The startups will get to pilot test their solutions at MIA, so they can scale their product in airports globally afterwards.

 Selected startuos will participate in a product testing program directly with MIA. MDIA will work closely with the portfolio companies to publish a report on the results, and will use its network of partners and resources to publicize key findings. 

“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 MDIA President and CEO Leigh-Ann A. Buchanan, in a statement. “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.”

Leigh-Ann Buchanan, President and CEO of Miami-Dade Innovation Authority.

The deadline to submit proposals is Friday, Jan. 19, 2024. To submit, visit:

Want more information? Access MDIA’s FAQ here.

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 follows MDIA’s first initiative to find sustainable uses for Sargassum seaweed, which is still in progress. Winners have not been announced yet.

MDIA’s mission is to address Miami-Dade’s most urgent needs around health, housing, climate, transportation, and equitable access to education and opportunity. In doing so, MDIA aims to create a blueprint for civic innovation that can be used by other cities and municipalities.


Nancy Dahlberg