Joined by over 100 distinguished guests from the Asian Travel & Mobility tech (T&MT) ecosystem, international media representatives, and top executives from the Lufthansa Group (LG), the Lufthansa Innovation Hub (LIH) opened its first foreign office in Singapore on Monday, January 28.

The expansion of the aviation group’s innovation unit is a strategic response to the growing importance of Asia’s T&MT sector.

It aims to expand LG’s footprint along the travel chain to systematically create and capture value beyond flying.

While the speed of innovation is accelerating on a global scale, Asia emerged as the most VC-funded T&MT market in the world, capturing 59 per cent of global deal flow in 2018, according to LIH.

Furthermore, 17 out of 34 unicorns in global Travel & Mobility Tech are based in Asia.

Singapore is LIH’s chosen location to settle in.

The initial focus here would be on an in-depth exploration of specific market developments in digitalization of travel and mobility plus establishing a network of relevant tech players forming the first strategic partners on site.

The local team is currently being set up in Singapore, and LIH’s three strategic 2019 goals are:

  1. Understanding the specifics of Asian T&MT ecosystem by systematically focussing on trend & market research.
  2. Exploring concrete opportunities and validating first projects in Asia with local partners.
  3. Leveraging expertise of local Lufthansa Group colleagues in the digital context.

Investing in Asia through strategic partnerships

While the LIH headquarters in Berlin are focused on digitizing the core business through building their own ventures, the LIH Singapore office will be focused on partnerships and investments as key activities to leverage on existing footprint.

In other words, its main aim is to understand the market and source for investment opportunities.

LIH has already begun screening Asian deal flows prior to their official set up in Singapore.

The move to Asia with a focus on new, digital business models is part of the LG’s digital strategy: envisioning a decisive expansion of digital activities along the travel and mobility chain and building a sustainable network with leading technology players.

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Dr Christian Langer, vice president of Digital Strategy Lufthansa Group and managing director at Lufthansa Innovation Hub, echoed:

“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 serious part of this emerging ecosystem.”

In an effort to understand Asia’s T&MT ecosystem through systematic research, an alliance with INSEAD has already been launched on the topic: “The Future of Work” and its explicit relevance for the transformation of business travel.

The aim is to publish key findings in a whitepaper and to implement them a test project, which will be validated in conjunction with LG’s real-world conditions.

In this context, LIH is in discussions with WeWork, Singapore’s Changi Airport and also the Munich Airport.

According to Gleb Tritus, managing director of LIH:

“We look forward to exploiting the unparalleled 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 strongly attests to how eager established local players are to experiment and explore,”.

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

About The Lufthansa Innovation Hub

The Lufthansa Innovation Hub (LIH) was established in Berlin at the end of 2014 in response to the rapid development of the global T&MT scene.

Thousands of startups along the travel chain have subsequently emerged over the last few years. Furthermore, the volume of venture capital invested in the T&MT context globally reached a record high of US$43.89 billion in 2018.

In short, the entire travel chain is undergoing a fundamental process charge.

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To keep up with these developments, a team consisting of serial founders, startup experts and long-term Lufthansa employees was established in Berlin to act as the interface between LG and the global startup ecosystem.

Focus Areas:

  1. Discover – The LIH’s Trend & Market Intelligence specialist systematically research and analyze developments in the global T&MT ecosystem, to identify interesting opportunities for the Lufthansa group.
  2. Build – The LIH uses its own entrepreneurial mindset and methodological competence to develop and validate business model innovations, using prototype developed in-house.
  3. Partner – The LIH initiates partnerships between the Lufthansa Group and startups, whose technological solutions have the potential to make travelling with Lufthansa even more convenient.
  4. Invest – The LIH supports the Lufthansa Group by strategically investing in tech players in the global startup scene.