easyJet (London Luton) has acquired an undisclosed shareholding in Founders Factory, a United Kingdom-based, corporate-backed, multi-sector start-up accelerator and incubator.

Over the course of a five-year period, easyJet, through its shareholding in Founders Factory, will scale and invest in five early-stage startups and co-create, from scratch, two new companies each year. As part of the investment, easyJet has also appointed its head of digital, James Millett, to the Founders Factory Board of Directors as its representative.

“This partnership will create real value for easyJet and our passengers by putting disruptive thinking at the centre of our digital strategy. Over the last five years, we have used digital to transform the airline and the experience of our passengers," the LCC's chief executive Carolyn McCall said. “Connecting the talented easyJet team with the next generation of disruptive entrepreneurs will only continue to drive fresh thinking and uncover new opportunities."

The carrier says that among the new initiatives it is pursuing is the use of drones for aircraft inspection. It also claims to have pioneered volcanic ash detection technology.

In all, the easyJet deal is Founders Factory’s sixth and final sector partnership having launched its first sector, education, in June 2015 with investment from Holtzbrinck Publishing Group (whose subsidiaries include Macmillan Publishers); Guardian Media Group for media in January 2016; Aviva for fintech and L’Oreal for beauty tech both in early summer this year. Its last investor prior to easyJet was China’s CSC Group which is now its official AI partner.