Several start-ups are set to overhaul Barcelona’s El Prat Airport in a six-month programme, with airport management company Aena Ventures launching a six-month acceleration programme that promotes innovation and technology.
The five start-ups have been brought in from across the globe to operate out of the airport’s control tower to design projects and technology to improve the airport’s infrastructure and harness customer experience.
Located 12km southwest of the city centre, Barcelona-El Prat Airport is the main international gateway to the popular tourist region, serving 33 million travellers annually, making it the second busiest airport in Spain.
Start-ups to Take Charge
As pandemic restrictions surrounding travel begin to lift, Barcelona-El Prat Airport is preparing to welcome back passengers, with a host of new technology start-ups.
The international tech development programme at the airport aims to promote innovation and technology through the start-ups within the airport. These start-ups will develop solutions for the future as well as the current challenges the airport is facing.
From improving passenger experience to sustainability initiatives, the five companies involved are working on next generation tech ideas to assist the airport now.
The busy airport’s control tower serves as the headquarters for the start-up accelerator programme, and the five selected companies.
Demo in October
The accelerator is scheduled to run until October, which will conclude with the start-up companies showcasing their achievements on the final day of the event called ‘Aena Ventures Demo Day’. The demo day aims to assess the feasibility of the start-up’s applications of their technology at the airport.
Companies from 33 countries submitted projects to take part in the acceleration programme. In total 254 projects were submitted which made the selection process a challenging one for those involved.
Amparo Brea, Aena’s director of innovation, sustainability and customer experience said: “The call was addressed to start-ups from all over the world who are invited to sign up for this first initiative. The programme will address five strategic challenges for Aena: agility in procedures and travel to the airport, passenger experience, passenger communication, sustainability and baggage.”
Ms. Brea added that after an exhaustive selection process, the projects that will be part of our first acceleration program have been chosen, aimed at solving the five challenges posed. “One start-up has been chosen for each of these challenges to participate in the acceleration process,” she said.
Each of the start-up companies have received €50,000 (£43,000) in funding to implement their ideas at the airport, while being mentored by industry professionals on site.
The acceleration programme aims to find technology – presented by the selected start-ups – which can assist the airports business model, infrastructure and develop systems which improve customer experience.
Ms. Brea explained: “Aena promotes innovation and technology and is committed to accelerate start-ups that fit in with its strategic business areas. We want to integrate this reality into our management, collaborating with these types of companies to establish digitisation and innovation actions, among others.”
The only start-up from the UK is Airport AI, who delivers AI technology for communication between airports and passengers to enhance connectivity through a multichannel chat solution.
The inclusion of this technology at the airport will bring about many benefits, especially an improved passenger experience.
The technology from Airport AI enables passengers to contact the airport around the clock, via a user-friendly interface, allowing them to receive information on flights, bookings and services.
Pierre Cuquemelle, CEO – Airport AI expanded: “Airport AI’s platform brings many advantages to airports such as time saved for customer service teams: more than 85% of passenger questions can be answered automatically, freeing some time for agents to deal with more complex cases.”
Mr. Cuquemelle informed that another advantage is revenue generation. “The platform can be used to better understand passengers and send targeted marketing messages at the relevant time of the passenger journey, which increases non-aeronautical revenues,” he said.