Ideas Wanted: SAP and Lufthansa Launch World’s First “Aviation Blockchain Challenge”


An ideas competition by Lufthansa Innovation Hub and the SAP.iO Foundry is on the hunt for blockchain-based solutions that optimize the traveler experience and make processes, supply chains, and maintenance workflows at airlines smoother and better networked.

Whether information technology, manufacturing, or civil aviation, blockchain is on the minds of countless decision makers in all industries. It’s not hard to see why; after all, this enabling technology has the potential to fundamentally change processes and value chains. While many industries such as the finance sector have already found their first use cases, players in the travel and mobility domain are just now beginning to decentralize their networks.

To date, few solutions impacting the value chain of airlines long term have managed to find their way to the market. Given this backdrop, the Lufthansa Innovation Hub and the SAP.iO Foundries program in Berlin launched the “Aviation Blockchain Challenge” to draw attention to the potential of blockchain technology in the aviation industry, uncover groundbreaking ideas in different application areas, and initiate concrete pilot projects.

Potential of Blockchain: Partnership with Lufthansa

Gleb Tritus, managing director of the Lufthansa Innovation Hub, explains the motivation behind the Blockchain Challenge in an interview.

Q: Why did you decide to focus on blockchain technology?
The “peak of inflated expectations” is slowly, but surely coming to an end and blockchain is starting to generate value. While many industries have found their first use cases, the impact on the aviation sector is not noticeable yet. We want to change that together with SAP and see substantial potential in our industry to utilize blockchain and other plays of decentralized networks.

Q: Why did Lufthansa partner up with SAP?
A: Unsurprisingly, SAP is a front runner and true global player when it comes to software technologies. Therefore, we believe that we have found the perfect partner for the Aviation Blockchain Challenge to complement our profound aviation knowledge with a compelling tech background and tangible blockchain expertise. Furthermore, we are impressed by the bandwidth of innovation activities within the SAP organization, especially SAP.iO — this is a great breeding ground to rethink how business is done in industries like ours.

Q: What are the expectations from the partnership?
A: To put it simply, we believe that 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.

Q: What are the desired outcomes?
A: First of all, we are looking for a great variety of inspiring and groundbreaking blockchain ideas across the whole aviation value chain. It is crucial to “filter the noise” and to find the right starting point where blockchain can deliver clear value. The rest is up to a pilot project that we certainly would love to facilitate together with SAP. The best-case result would be a blockchain-based solution that fits certain aspects of our IT agenda and infrastructure, our strategic focus areas regarding digitization, and has a potential to scale and create clear bottom-line impact.

Q: How will the partnership play out long-term?
A: The participants will 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. Certainly, Lufthansa will organize the flights. Afterwards we would definitely consider a pilot project with the winning team in order to help the proposed solution toward a product-market-fit. As a last point, I am sure that the teams will be able to tangibly benefit from the industry-leading brands, their networks, and the attention that is coming along with that.

Access to Blockchain Technology and Mentoring

Deepak Krishnamurthy, chief strategy officer and executive vice president at SAP, who is also acting as the executive sponsor of this challenge, said: “SAP is excited to partner with Lufthansa on this startup innovation 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.“

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. Rounding out the offer: a targeted mentoring program in which experts from Lufthansa Innovation Hub and SAP.iO support selected participants in the further development of their solutions.

Applicants can compete in three categories:

  • Traveler Challenge: Wanted: 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.

More Information

For more information about the competition, and a link to the submissions portal, visit the Aviation Blockchain Challenge website. Applications will be accepted from now until August 31, 2018. Potential candidates then go through a multi-stage selection process. As a first step, the jury will nominate the three best ideas per category for the mentoring program, which starts in September 2018.

Contact at SAP: Dima Durah