SIA, Lufthansa neck and neck in tech push as innovation labs take off


Bragging rights for digital leadership in aviation were up for grabs as Singapore Airlines (SIA) and Lufthansa both talked up their respective innovation labs opening in Singapore earlier this week.

SIA opened KrisLab at the SIA Group Sports Club yesterday, a move that it believes will make it “the world’s leading digital airline”.

In a statement, SIA said that the lab will serve as a collaborative workspace for staff of the group to develop new ideas and co-innovate with external partners.

The airline added that technology such as blockchain, mixed reality devices, artificial intelligence and data analytics are “used and explored by staff” as they develop digital initiatives. For approved ideas, seed funding and expertise are provided to help develop the idea into a prototype, before moving it to the implementation stage.

Aside from helping bring innovative ideas to fruition, the lab team has also been working with institutions such as A*Star and the National University of Singapore on research in “deep-tech areas”.

For the Lufthansa Group, the opening of the Singapore office on Monday marked the first overseas Lufthansa Innovation Hub (LIH).

Lufthansa said that expanding its digitalisation and innovation unit, established in 2014, is “a strategic response to the rapidly increasing importance of the Asian technology sector”.

The focus of LIH Singapore will initially be on an exploration of specific market developments in the context of the digitalisation of travel and mobility, as well as on establishing a network of relevant tech players and the first strategic partners on site.

LIH and INSEAD business school in Singapore have already concluded a research alliance on the topic The Future of Work and its relevance for the transformation of business travel.

The research findings obtained are to be immediately validated under real-world conditions. In this context, LIH is in in discussions with WeWork, Singapore’s Changi Airport and also the Munich Airport, which operates its Terminal 2 together with Lufthansa Group.

“We look forward to exploiting the dynamism of the Asian technology ecosystem even more consistently in the future and to leveraging the established position of the Lufthansa Group. Singapore is clearly a pioneer of mobility innovation and our first collaboration with INSEAD and other players attests to how eager established local players are to experiment and explore,” explains Gleb Tritus, managing director of the Lufthansa Innovation Hub.

The opening of an additional office in Shanghai is planned over the course of the year.

“More than ever, Asian startups, but also digital enterprises, are the driving force behind fundamental changes along the travel chain. With the expansion of the Lufthansa Innovation Hub, we want to become a part of this emerging ecosystem, just as in our home markets,” said Christian Langer, vice president digital strategy of Lufthansa Group and managing director of Lufthansa Innovation Hub.

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