For the first time in its history, airport operator Fraport has held the “Frankfurt Airport Innovation Challenge” – an idea competition that was open to interested members of the public from all around the world.
The six best ideas were determined by a five-member jury comprising industry and innovation experts. There was a wide range of creative and diverse ideas from many different countries to be evaluated, from the use of augmented reality on Frankfurt Airport’s Visitors’ Terrace or baggage carts that can follow the passenger using Bluetooth. First place went to the “Innovation Space” – a dedicated room where passengers can meet up to be creative and develop ideas together. The “Innovation Space” is intended to help generate added value through personal interaction at the airport. Specific issues and problems can be discussed not only by the airport operator itself but also by local start-ups or passengers in the “Innovation Space” and can then be dealt with using modern creative techniques.
The jury based its decision on the good possibility for implementation and the potential to offer passengers at Germany’s largest air traffic hub an area for dialog and creative input. “This idea promotes Frankfurt Airport and the entire region as a place for innovation,” emphasized Claudia Uhe, head of Fraport AG’s Corporate Development, Environment & Sustainability unit and chairwoman of the jury. “People from all around the world come together at Frankfurt Airport. The idea provides an excellent platform for direct customer feedback and the opportunity to exploit the great potential of creative minds from around the globe who come together here at the airport and in the region.”
Jury member Markus Garn, a former manager at the FBM Frankfurt Business Media publishing company (which is part of the renowned Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper) and editor of the Innovation Annual, also praised the winning idea in particular: “The ability to innovate is fundamental for the future of any company. The ‘Innovation Space’ provides a framework for continuous, open development of ideas, communication and active networking as an optimal addition to traditional idea and innovation management. An open co-working space can serve as a model for both the airport and the entire region. It also provides an opportunity to follow up on other ideas developed during the competition and ensures creative continuity.” Johannes Sammann, who, in his function as General Retail Manager, is responsible for retail outlets operated by Gebr. Heinemann at Frankfurt Airport, shared this opinion: “Many of the ideas submitted were aimed at providing electronic support for connecting people who share a particular interest. However, the dialog between the jury members in itself also reaffirmed that virtual space cannot fully replace real space. Personal dialog between individuals is still extremely important. The idea for the ‘Innovation Space’ picks up on this view and therefore rightly deserves first place.”
The “Frankfurt Airport Innovation Challenge” was held between May 17 and June 28, 2016. During the competition, Fraport was looking for innovative ideas to make the passenger experience at Frankfurt Airport even more unique—in line with the competition’s motto “Make It Your Favorite Destination”. The competition was based on the “open innovation” principle, meaning that Fraport AG intentionally opened up its innovation processes to generate external knowledge for the development of innovations. Participants from around the globe had the opportunity to submit their ideas in German or English at fra-challenge.de.
In the next step, the six best ideas will now be examined in terms of their practicability. The declared aim is to implement all ideas if possible. “Thanks to the fantastic response to this first competition, we are also hoping for future innovative projects that can be used to further enhance the travel experience for passengers at Frankfurt Airport,” concluded Uhe.