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Vienna Airport is a successful innovation hotspot for the digital travel world of the future and home to Europe's first Phi Lab of the European Space Agency (ESA)

| Press releases
Vienna Airport is a successful innovation hotspot for the digital travel world of the future and home to Europe's first Phi Lab of the European Space Agency (ESA)
Successful partnership with US Plug and Play, global players such as Airbus and Skyteam, as well as Vienna Insurance Group (VIG), Fraport AG, Aeroporti di Roma, Austrian Airlines and many others.
Whether autonomous wheelchairs, AI-based photovoltaic inspection, autonomous cleaning robots or baggage check-in from home - numerous future projects for more passenger comfort and less resource consumption document the impressive 5-year innovation track record of the collaboration with the US start-up Plug and Play.
The travel industry is facing a huge shift due to digitalization and new technologies. Barrier-free, convenient travel without system interruptions, booked from a laptop, without long queues and using as few resources as possible - this is not a distant vision, but is gradually becoming reality, driven by AI and digital innovations. Only those who are at the forefront will remain competitive in the future. The creative know-how for this is being supplied by experimental, idea-driven start-ups worldwide. Bringing them together with established companies that need new ideas to accelerate the digital revolution is the job of the US start-up forge Plug and Play: the partnership with Vienna Airport has been extremely productive since 2019. 15 major companies have already joined, including global players such as Airbus and Skyteam, as well as the Vienna Insurance Group, Fraport AG, Aeroporti di Roma, Austrian Airlines and many more.
“Only innovation will create competitive advantages in the future. Aviation in particular, like the entire travel industry, is undergoing a huge transformation process towards more passenger comfort, digitalization and less resource consumption. Thanks to the cooperation with Plug and Play, we can look into the future with a telescope, so to speak, and prepare ourselves and all partner companies for the fully digital travel future in good time. The continuing good cooperation with Plug and Play helps to identify the necessary know-how worldwide to realize interesting digital future projects, such as autonomous wheelchairs and cleaning robots, as well as AI-based inspection of large-scale photovoltaic systems and many other AI-based services", says Dr. Günther Ofner, Joint CEO and CFO of Vienna Airport.
“Vienna Airport impressively demonstrates how strategic partnerships and a strong network can be used to promote innovation. The cooperation with Plug and Play Tech Center, the numerous successful projects and the intensive international networking underline the role of the airport as an international hub for innovation. With a clear focus on digitalization and technological advances, Vienna Airport is meeting the challenges of the future and securing a leading position in the global aviation industry,” says Christoph Schmidt, MSc LL.M., Head of the Vienna Airport Conference and Innovation Center.

“We are incredibly proud to have been building the largest Travel & Aviation Open Innovation Platform in the EMEA region together with Vienna Airport for over five years now. It is not common for large venture capital firms to have so many industry-specific locations (60 worldwide) - but this is precisely where we see our strength in investing in the best start-ups and driving the implementation of new technologies together with strong partners like Vienna Airport. As Silicon Valley investors, we are proud to be part of the ecosystem at Vienna Airport and to be able to offer start-ups a landing pad in the truest sense of the word,” says Saeed Amidi, Founder and CEO of Plug and Play, and Nik Munaretto, Managing Director, Plug and Play Austria.

“Five years of Plug and Play at Vienna-Schwechat Airport demonstrate the innovative strength of Lower Austria. We at tecnet and accent, as long-standing cooperation partners of Plug and Play, are pleased to support start-ups and investors together and thus strengthen Lower Austria as a location for innovation,” emphasize Doris Agneter, Managing Director of tecnet equity and Michael Moll, Managing Director of accent Incubator.

“Vienna has successfully positioned itself internationally as an attractive startup city in recent years. As a hub to Eastern and Western Europe that combines all aspects of business and innovation with quality of life, sustainability, prosperity and security, Vienna is the first choice for many startups with bold ideas and sustainable projects. The cooperation between Plug and Play and Vienna Airport is an ideal “approach route” for young companies from all over the world to get to know the local ecosystem and gain a foothold here,” says Gerhard Hirczi, Managing Director of the Vienna Business Agency.

Vienna Airport: international hub for innovation
Vienna Airport is more than just an important transportation hub; it has also established itself as a leading location for corporate innovation in the fields of mobility and smart cities. Five years ago, a strategic partnership was initiated with the world-renowned innovation platform Plug and Play Tech Center from Silicon Valley. Since 2019, Plug and Play has been present at Vienna AirportCity with its EMEA Hub for Travel & Aviation and Smart Cities. This close cooperation gives Vienna Airport access to global and effective market research and matchmaking with international start-ups. This makes it possible to identify and implement revolutionary solutions in the shortest possible time. In addition to Vienna Airport, around 15 partners at the site are now taking advantage of this opportunity, including Vienna Insurance Group (VIG), Wiener Städtische Versicherung, Aeroporti di Roma, Fraport AG, Istanbul Grand Airport, Skyteam, International Airlines Group, Austrian Airlines and Lead Ventures.

Five years of successful collaboration with Plug and Play Tech Center
Over the past five years, more than 700 start-ups have been screened in collaboration with Plug and Play, resulting in the implementation of around two dozen new projects. Among other things, these partnerships have enabled the integration of technologies and solutions in the areas of robotic process automation (RPA), chatbots, robotics, predictive maintenance and artificial intelligence, which have been successfully tested and transferred to regular operations. The cooperation with the Plug and Play Tech Center builds a bridge to Silicon Valley and innovation centers worldwide for the entire business location of Vienna-Lower Austria. In view of the successes of the last five years, Vienna Airport has extended the cooperation in order to be able to quickly test and implement new technologies for their market maturity in the coming years.

Innovation for space: ESA sets up ESA-Phi-Lab at Vienna Airport
The Vienna Airport Conference and Innovation Center in AirportCity provides the local framework for innovation know-how. This makes the location attractive for companies looking for innovation and international connections. The latest addition is the first European ESA-Phi-Lab, which was recently opened at AirportCity. The aim of the ESA-Phi-Lab is to promote the commercialization of space travel. ESA-Phi-Lab Austria will be part of a network of a total of 12 ESA Phi Labs in Europe, which will provide innovative projects and business enterprises with direct access to a variety of technology areas.

The ESA Phi Lab (named after the Greek letter Phi, which stands for the pursuit of knowledge) is designed to support new business ideas and start-ups with the help of incubation services, intellectual property and technology transfer. Through so-called “scale-up” investments, companies are supported in taking more risks, bringing their products to market faster and attracting private and institutional investors. From advanced propulsion systems and autonomous navigation to robotics and sensors, ESA-Phi-Lab will support a wide range of technologies that will shape the future of space exploration.

Events and networking at the Conference & Innovation Center
A central aspect of the partnership between Vienna Airport and Plug and Play are the numerous Plug and Play events such as Expo, Exploration and Selection Days, which take place in the Vienna Airport Conference & Innovation Center. These events bring together leading companies such as Airbus, Fraport AG, Istanbul Airport, Vienna Insurance Group, Wiener Städtische, Star Alliance, Skyteam and Austrian Airlines. The focus is on an intensive exchange on new trends, best practices and innovative technologies. The Vienna Airport Conference & Innovation Center plays an important role in the promotion and implementation of innovations: As the home of Plug and Play Austria and with state-of-the-art equipment and numerous creative meeting rooms, it offers optimal conditions for the development and testing of new ideas. By regularly hosting top international and national events, Vienna Airport has established itself as a leading innovation center in the Vienna Region.

Innovation know-how for the global market: Plug and Play Tech Center in California
Plug and Play is a globally active US innovation platform based in Sunnyvale in Silicon Valley. The Californian company was founded in February 2006 by Saeed Amidi and specializes in bringing start-ups together with investors and well-known companies. The aim is to accelerate technological progress in a wide range of industries with the help of special “accelerator programs” and to measure it internationally thanks to Plug and Play's global reach. To this end, regular full-day selection processes are held in more than 50 offices worldwide to further develop the best and most innovative business ideas. Plug and Play now has more than 500 cooperation partners around the world.

Photo 1: from left to right: Alfried Braumann, CEO Vienna Region, Michael Moll, CEO accent Incubator, Doris Agneter, CEO N.Vest and tecnet, Saeed Amidi, CEO Plug and Play and Günther Ofner, CFO Vienna Airport
Photo credit: Flughafen Wien AG

Press Office of Flughafen Wien AG
Peter Kleemann, Company Spokesman
Tel.: (+43-1-) 7007-23000