Aviation embraces the startup world

Genuine entrepeneurship. Picture: Wikipedia

Genuine entrepeneurship. Picture: Wikipedia

Although aviation is quite a capital intensive industry, and therefore with relatively high barriers of entry and a concentrated structure, there is something in it that seems to attract all sort of entrepreneurial types...and no, I am not talking here about the likes of Richard Branson or Stelios Haji-Ioannu, but about a myriad of smaller scale intitiatives across Europe that aim to strenghten then links between the aviation and the startup Worlds.

In fact the competitive nature of the travel industry provides a powerful incentive to innovate constantly and the large players often turn to young startups to enhance specific aspects of their operations or to improve the passenger experience.

We have talked already in this blog about Airbus BizLab, an accelerator to support aviation-related startups that the European aircraft manufacturer launched earlier this year in Toulouse and has since kept growing with new branches in Hamburg, Airbus' second home, and, now, also Bangalore, India's "tech capital".

In The Netherlands, Schiphol airport has joined forces with KLM and the likes of TU Delft, a technical university, NS, the Dutch railways, the Port of Amsterdam and private firm NBI Investors to create and manage a venture fund that invests in startups that focus on solving transport and logistics challenges.

It has already launched two funds, Mainport Innovation Fund I and II, that has invested in a portfolio of companies that range from FastTrack, a company that aims to turns checked-in luggage into connected devices, to Robin Radar Systems, that develops systems to detect migrating birds in the proximity of airports and wind power generators.

There is no doubt that startups are hot, and airlines know this...while supporting entrepreneurship might result in some tangible benefits, it also makes for marketing and pr material...take for example Turkish Airlines' initiative to allow entrepreneurs to pitch business class passengers through the inflight entertainment system, or Vueling organizing an in-flight entrepreneur networking event, as well as a mobile apps hackaton.

The most recent startup event organized by an airline in Europe might have been the "Future of Travel" hackaton (the title is quite self-explanatory, I think) that was organized by Finnair, Finavia (operator of Helsinki's Vantaa international airport) and technology firm Reaktor, as part of Junction, a broader 48-hour hackaton that, in turn, runs in parallel to the large Slush startup and technology conference.

The winners of Future of Travel were Codercoded, with an idea to tackle fear of flying. Now, if you are reading this blog the odds are that you like airplanes and flying, so aviophobia might not be a problem comes immeditately to your mind, however it is quite a major issue for many...just as an example, in a recent flight out of Moscow, I had to assuage the concerns of an old Russian lady seating next to me that was absolutely terrorized every time the Airbus A320 registered the slightest vibration, the type of very subtle movement that you might not even register, was she was obviously feeling magnified...

The guys at Codercoded aim to deploy some tricks to make of aviophobia, at least a manageable issue. What they do propose? For example, they come up with ways to communicate with scared passengers and explain them every "suspicious" sound. They also present ways the crew could assess the mood onboard so that they can take any measures to reduce anxiety preventively.

You can check it out in this video:

By the way, I am seeing more and more startups focused on makling mood maps,the  business model remains unclear to me, but there is certainly a bunch of people looking into it, so sooner or later expect something to come up in this field!