Barcelona-El Prat Airport is to host the headquarters of the international startup accelerator Aena Ventures, created by airport operator Aena to promote innovation and technology in its strategic business areas.
The five startups taking part are from France, the UK, the United Arab Emirates and Spain and are all set to move into the iconic control tower next to Terminal T2. There they will be mentored by airport industry experts to shape projects harnessing the benefits of technology and new business models in airport infrastructure while also developing smart systems to enhance the customer experience.
Each of the projects is to receive €50,000 (US$59,700) in funding to implement their ideas. In addition, they are also all eligible to enter an agreement with Aena worth up to €2m (US$2.4m) for the development and deployment of their initiative at the selected airports.
The acceleration process for these entrepreneurial projects will kick off with a welcome week, which is to be held in-person in Barcelona from April 12-16 and will include working groups designed to lay down the specifics of the pilot scheme which each of the companies is to carry out over the six months that the acceleration program lasts.
Companies from 33 countries submitted bids to take part in the program, with 254 projects submitted, 55% of which came from abroad. The call asked for the development of proposals on five future challenges in the airport industry: agility in procedures and travel to the airport, passenger experience, passenger communication, sustainability and baggage handling. The startups which made it through are:
• Meep, a Spanish firm, which is to conduct a project for route planning which combines all means of transportation, including the integrated purchase of tickets and analysis of the least congested routes.
• Chinespain, also a Spanish business, which will look to promote tourism experiences between China and Spain and is working on developing an app to enable more flexible communication and payment management for travelers from China.
• Airbot, founded in the UK, which hopes to deliver technology for seamless communication between airports and passengers to enhance the relationship between them using a multichannel chat solution.
• Carwatt, a French firm, which submitted an initiative in which it converts internal combustion vehicles to electricity, which would help to cut pollutant gas emissions at airports.
• Dubz, based in the United Arab Emirates, which has an innovative solution for streamlining baggage claim, check-in and drop-off at home and to hotel guests on the day of their trip.
The acceleration period is scheduled to run until October. When it is completed, the startups will showcase their achievements at the final event in the process called Aena Ventures Demo Day where the feasibility of their application in the airport setting will be presented.