Aviation Blockchain Challenge launched by SAP and Lufthansa

The challenge is looking to reinvent the traveler experience, airline operations, and supply chain with blockchain.

Lufthansa airport

Whether IT, manufacturing, or civil aviation — blockchain is on the minds of countless decision makers in all industries. Lufthansa is not an exception, and just like other airlines – it is still unsure how to put it to best use. Streamlining supply chain(s) and its loyalty program could be part of the equation, but there is more to explore.

So instead of doing it alone — it’s an airline, not a tech company after all — Lufthansa has teamed-up with German software giant SAP to launch what its says is the world’s first “Aviation Blockchain Challenge.” And, obviously, we want to take a closer look at it…

Three categories to compete in

The ideas competition, organized by Lufthansa Innovation Hub and the SAP.iO Foundry, is looking for blockchain-based solutions that promise to optimize the following three categories:

  • Traveler Challenge: where it is looking for ideas along the entire travel chain that offer clear added value for travelers — from booking and purchasing flights to loyalty programs and identification at the airport. The ultimate goal is a more efficient and seamless travel experience.
  • Airline Challenge: The focus here is on ideas that improve airline-specific operations and associated processes, for example by optimizing data sharing across company and departmental boundaries.
  • Supplier Challenge: This category is a call for ideas that rethink maintenance and related aspects of the aviation supply chain — from document tracking and digitization to the transparent verifiability of documentation.

Beyond uncovering “groundbreaking ideas,” Lufthansa and SAP also aim to initiate concrete pilot projects.

As far as the German airline is concerned, the best-case result would be a blockchain-based solution that fits certain aspects of its IT agenda and infrastructure, its strategic focus areas regarding digitization, and has a potential to scale and create clear bottom-line impact.

Which leads us to our next point…

Partnership opportunities

Arguably the “key selling point” for any startup to join the Blockchain Challenge is the ability to partner with such giants as Lufthansa and SAP.

The challenge participants are promised to receive valuable feedback from seasoned aviation, business modelling, ideation, and blockchain experts — both from Lufthansa Group and SAP during the evaluation and especially the mentoring phase after the selection.

The best ideas will have the chance to pitch in the context of the Lufthansa Group Innovation Forum & Award in October 2018 at Lufthansa Group headquarters in Frankfurt. Afterwards, the company would consider a pilot project with the winning team in order to help the proposed solution toward a product-market-fit.

According to Gleb Tritus, managing director of the Lufthansa Innovation Hub, the partnership of two multinational industry leaders with a strong R&D and innovation culture delivers the best possible framework to attract relevant talent on a global scale.

“We can give them all the support and in the next step trustworthiness they need in order to take their blockchain project to a relevant level,” he said.

SAP will chip in with its tech

SAP is also pleased to take part in the challenge to reinvent the traveler experience, airline operations, and supply chain with blockchain.

“With our industry-leading SAP Leonardo Blockchain capabilities and Lufthansa’s market leadership and expertise in aviation, we can foster a new innovation ecosystem that can potentially transform the entire travel industry,” Deepak Krishnamurthy, chief strategy officer and executive vice president at SAP, said in a statement.

The winning teams can avail themselves of SAP’s blockchain-as-a-service technology and Lufthansa Group’s industry access to the aviation ecosystem to drive their project.

Finally, participants will also benefit from what is described as a “targeted mentoring program” in which experts from Lufthansa Innovation Hub and SAP.iO support selected participants in the further development of their solutions.

The Aviation Blockchain Challenge has its own website with all the details. We’ll only add that applications will be accepted from until August 31, 2018, and that the three best ideas per category will be selected for the mentoring program, which starts in September 2018.

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