Sebastien Couturier, Groupe ADP

Sebastien Couturier, head of Innovation and Corporate Venture at Groupe ADP, at CES 2018. Image: Kristina Velan

APEX Insight: Groupe ADP is at the Consumer Electronics Show this week, looking for tech talent to invest in.

Groupe ADP is the sole airport operator at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this week. It makes sense that the company, which manages dozens of airports around the world, including Charles de Gaulle (CDG) and Paris Orly (ORY), has a presence at the tech event, given its innovation push over the last year.

According to Sebastien Couturier, head of Innovation and Corporate Venture at Groupe ADP, the decision to launch a €16 million innovation investment fund was driven partly by competition from airports like Heathrow and Frankfurt. “There is pressure to satisfy more customers,” Couturier told APEX Media at CES. “We’re not just managing infrastructure anymore, we’re a service provider. We need to invest in technology.”

“We’re not just managing infrastructure anymore, we’re a service provider.” – Sebastien Couturier, Groupe ADP

The fund, which enables Groupe ADP to build long-term relationships with entrepreneurs by becoming a minority shareholder, is part of its Innovation Hub program, which launched in March 2017. “It’s a holistic approach to innovation,” explained Couturier. “From discovering new trends – this is part of the reason we’re at CES – to detecting entrepreneurs with potential, giving them the possibility to experiment, providing financial support and offering expertise…With our network, we can offer new markets to startups.”

Through the Innovation Hub program, Groupe ADP has a portfolio of fifteen projects a year, most of them startups. Three of Groupe ADP’s startup partners are also at CES: two focused on AI and one entertainment provider.

Using artificial intelligence, Sensego sends targeted push notifications through Groupe ADP’s app. “They way you navigate your smartphone, while searching for flights, for example, allows us to understand your needs, and the algorithm is able to anticipate those needs,” said Couturier. “It’s important to be proactive.” allows Groupe ADP to prevent equipment failure at CDG through proactive maintenance powered by artificial intelligence. “Before big data and machine learning, this wouldn’t have been possible,” said Couturier. Both of these projects are currently in the experimentation phase.

Interactive Mobility’s entertainment service has already been deployed at CDG. Every boarding area has zones where travelers can watch content, ranging from movies to tourism guides, either on screens that are provided, or on their own devices. Around 80% of the content is complimentary, but there is a charge for new releases. Included as part of the free content is access to Groupe ADP’s Espace Business initiative.

Each week, startups are invited to the airport to pitch their ideas to business travelers. “It’s a great way for entrepreneurs to identify business opportunities,” explained Couturier. “The program started in a single terminal at ORY, then we expanded it to the entire airport. It’s also now running at CDG.” More than 120 startups have pitched their ideas since the service launched a year and a half ago.

Groupe ADP is also experimenting with chatbots, wayfinding and robotics. “We did a test with Stanley Robotics’ automated valet parking service about six months ago,” said Couturier. “Basically, a robot parks your car for you, while also optimizing the capacity of the parking lot. We’re looking at the possibility of scaling this type of technology.”


Kristina is digital editor of APEX Media. Plane and simple.