APEX Insight: Lufthansa Innovation Hub has established divisions in Singapore and Shenzhen as it seeks to capitalize on developments in the world’s most dynamic market for travel and mobility innovation.
Lufthansa Innovation Hub (LIH) was established in 2014 in response to the rapid development of the global travel technology sector. Its Berlin-based team acts as an interface between Lufthansa Group and the global startup ecosystem in order to initiate partnerships and then develop prototypes in-house.
LIH developments have included the AirlineCheckins.com check-in assistant, which can check in passengers automatically for more than 150 airlines; the LINEA self-compensation solution for baggage delays; and Flightpass, which provides passengers with 10 one-way flights at a fixed price.
The new Asia-Pacific expansion makes sense as the region is leading the way in digital travel and mobility solutions, with Lufthansa chairman Carsten Spohr saying LIH will aim to build partnerships and learn from developments in the region.
Singapore was selected as it is a “smart mobility” pioneer and is a good base to tap into technology ecosystems in the wider region, while China is the world’s most dynamic ecosystem for travel and mobility innovations. Last year, 55% – approximately US$14 billion – of global venture capital invested in travel and mobility technology went to China, according to Lufthansa.
“We are taking an iterative, test-driven approach, as we did when setting up the LIH in Berlin in 2014.” – Christina Walke, Lufthansa Innovation Hub
“The overarching mission is to specifically extend key activities of LIH Berlin to the Asian markets,” Christina Walke, senior communications manager at Lufthansa Innovation Hub in Berlin, told APEX Media. The Singapore and Shenzhen offices are currently engaged in a three- to four-month exploration phase. A five-strong venture development, venture capital and market and research analyst team from Berlin is exploring the local travel and mobility tech ecosystem to gain an understanding of the innovation landscape. “They will work on local network expansion, targeted scouting and start partnership initiation,” said Walke.
“The exploration phase will help us to systematically understand where we can create the biggest impact. It will lay the ground for partnerships and will clarify what our focus will be for 2018/2019,” Walke continued. “We are taking an iterative, test-driven approach, as we did when setting up the LIH in Berlin in 2014.”
After the initial kick-off phase, LIH plans to build a team of local experts to run the Singapore and Shenzhen operations, which will have close ties with the Berlin hub and Frankfurt-based Lufthansa Group. “Our goal is to keep up an ongoing intellectual exchange between the different units and teams, leverage synergies of shared resources and even establish an exchange on the product side,” Walke concluded.
To find out how other companies are approaching innovation, check out our videos from the 2018 Future Travel Experience Europe event in Dublin.