The acceleration period began just over 3 months ago with a Welcome Week, held at Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat Airport
The accelerator has been developing innovative projects in the fields of passenger communication, airport sustainability, passenger experience, luggage handling and travel to the airport
The start-ups selected will be eligible for contracts with Aena worth up to 2 million euros to roll out their idea
The five start-ups taking part in Aena Ventures already have their pilot projects up and running in an airport environment, as part of the acceleration process that Aena is carrying out with the aim of boosting initiatives that develop disruptive technologies in an innovative, sustainable and efficient way.
In just over 3 months since this programme began, at the Welcome Week held at Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat Airport, the start-ups have put their ideas into operation thanks to the work that has been supervised by mentors and Innovation Managers at Aena. Each company will outline the details of its pilot, which will be carried out during the 6 months that the acceleration programme will last.
Five pilots under way
The start-ups that are part of Aena Ventures have been working with the aim of finding smart solutions to improve the customer experience, in response to the five challenges specified in the tender: passenger communication, airport sustainability, passenger experience, luggage handling and travel to the airport.
Airbot's "Chatbot" is now ready. The conversation app, now in testing, answers any questions that passengers at Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat Airport might have. It is available on the Aena website, its mobile application and via WhatsApp, platforms that have been used by over 5,000 users in the last month. The automatic agent is multilingual, Spanish, Catalan and English, and can be tested at https://wa.me/34634851130?text=Hola!+¿cómo+me+puedes+ayudar?
The sustainability challenge is addressed by Carwatt, which has developed a project involving decarbonisation in airport mobility by converting diesel combustion vehicles to fully electric vehicles, using reusable batteries and components. This pilot, in collaboration with one of the main handling agents operating at Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat Airport, makes it possible to do away with the emissions associated with these vehicles and to give them a broader purpose, one that is consistent with the needs of society and the environment and optimises the current market options in terms of mobility.
"Hi China!" in the area of passenger experience. Chinespain has launched an app for Chinese passengers with all the information of interest in their language on the airports of Barcelona and Madrid; online booking and payment through their platforms (Wechat and Alipay). Interest in this app has been significant in the last two months, with more than 27,000 impacts on China's leading social networks (Wechat, Weibo and Xiaohonghu) thanks to this pilot, and over 100 passengers have used this method to access the airport's services.
The Dubz test project is called "Baggage as a whole". With this service, passengers will not have to worry about their luggage when checking in, since this company will collect it at the point in the city of Barcelona specified by the user and check it. The passenger only needs to pick it up at the final destination.
And finally, the company Meep has brought its project to life by turning it into "Meep Barcelona by Aena". This is the first MaaS (Mobility as a Service) that connects a city's mobility, by integrating different means of transport on a single platform, with the indoor guide at Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat Airport, as well as with updated flight information.
At the end of the acceleration period, which will run through October, the start-ups will showcase their experience with the pilots at the final event of the process, Aena Ventures Demo Day, where the feasibility of implementing them in an airport environment will be presented.
In addition, each start-up will be eligible for contracts with Aena worth up to 2 million euros to develop and roll out their idea at select airports.
The AENA airports authority plus Iberia, Inetum and Thales are partnering in this ambitious project, supported by Spain’s Industrial Technology Development Centre (CDTI).
It allows the biometric detection of passengers using tablet-type mobile equipment.
The aim is to increase security and speed procedures in an airport with numerous flights to many different destinations.
It implies seeking innovative ways of operating in the air travel industry to comply with the new health safety measures implemented following the Covid-19 outbreak.
The national airports authority AENA is part of the consortium which includes Iberia, Inetum, and Thales, which is to carry out an R+D project with the aim of seeking new ways to operate in the air travel industry with the new health measures imposed since the Covid-19 outbreak.
The proposed project allows the biometric detection of passengers thanks to the use of tablet-type mobile equipment, which will improve their airport experience by streamlining the entire process and elimination all physical contact, enhancing still further the safety of all airport procedures.
The use of such mobile equipment also incorporates the concept of mobility, meaning that a limited number of units will be sufficient to deal with a large number of flights to different destinations. In addition, the system boasts improved detection capabilities, making it possible to identify passengers even when they are wearing face masks.
The initiative is being supported by the CDTI, Spain’s industrial technology development agency, through a research and development cooperation programme, thus contributing to the improvement of the technological level and the digitisation of Spanish enterprises via the development of innovative ideas.
For this R+D programme, in compliance wither the new measures of contactless security, the facial recognition programme deployed at the Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas Airport, now in the pilot project stage, will serve in the development of new functionalities, integrating them into a single listing process by means of a dedicated application and security and boarding controls.
With this aim, leading companies in their respective industries have joined to achieve the necessary development and validation Iberia, as and airline, Inetum, as a systems integration company, Thales, as a provider of biometric technologies and identity validation processes, and AENA, as operator of Spanish airports, with responsibility for the intermediate integration systems between airline and biometric engine.
Aena promotes innovation and technology and is committed to accelerating start-ups which dovetail with its strategic business areas. With this in mind, it has announced a call aimed at driving disruptive technologies in an innovative, sustainable and efficient way which will help deliver solutions to the current and future challenges facing the air transport industry.
The call is addressed to start-ups from all over the world who are invited to sign up for this first initiative.
Aena will be looking for projects which leverage the advantages of technology and new business models in airport infrastructures and develop smart systems to enhance the customer experience.
The start-ups chosen will be guided by expert mentors in the airport industry to shape their ideas and proposals and also get physical facilities and €50,000 in funding for implementation. They may additionally have the chance to enter into an agreement with Aena worth up to €2 million for development and deployment of the idea in the selected airports.
The programme will address five challenges:
Agility in procedures and travel to the airport
Baggage as a whole
As for the calendar, entrepreneurs from all over the world keen to become part of Aena Ventures have until 14 September to present their projects with the aim of starting the acceleration this year in 2020.
The six-month acceleration programme will begin in December 2020 and run until May 2021, when start-ups will showcase their achievements to Aena at the final event called Demo Day.