Partnerships: the latest innovation

The last few months has seen a plethora of announcements about “innovation partnerships” as established companies attempt to kick-start their participation in the fast-evolving disruptive economy. Clearly travel is a key sector for innovation, with internet-enabled technologies such as blockchain, mobile bookings, big data and the “internet of things” providing a host of opportunities.

Air New Zealand is one of the recent movers, announcing an agreement with JetBlue Technology Ventures, itself an offshoot of US carrier JetBlue. The Air NZ “International Innovation Partnership” aims to seek out startups with new ideas and help back their creations, with the carrier saying the deal also gives it access to “the Silicon Valley innovation ecosystem”. The carrier reportedly has more than 600 people working in its internal digital division.

Another deal announced late last month has seen flight schedules data provider OAG partner with Asia-based startup accelerator and innovation centre Plug and Play. Plug and Play has offices in Tokyo, Singapore and Jakarta as well as eight locations across China, and OAG joins existing collaborators such as Wanda Group, Philips, Audi and Cisco. Travel is a key vertical for the group, with the rich data provided by OAG’s API likely to prove fertile ground for new ideas.

Qantas earlier this year launched its own accelerator program in partnership with corporate innovation business Slingshot, seeking up to ten teams to work with QF Group mentors and pitch ideas to “streamline the travel experience, design smarter ways of working, unlock the potential of new technologies and help solve business problems”.