As passenger volumes are rising rapidly everywhere, the complexity of air travel puts pressure on all stakeholders to improve performance and reduce costs. The 2018 Global Airport and Passenger Symposium (GAPS) Startup innovation Awards aim to ignite new ideas across the entire industry. We call for innovation and smart thinking. We call for a better passenger experience that is secure, seamless and efficient.

Those who had submitted their ideas will have a chance to present their business innovation, solution, product or service to the 2018 GAPS audience in Athens!

Submissions are closed!

Competition Topics

The ideas submitted should be about one of the below topics:

  • Baggage
  • Disruption
  • Unaccompanied Minors
  • Wayfinding and Passenger tracking
  • Personalization

It would be a plus if the idea is leveraging emerging technologies such as:

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality
  • Virtual Assistants & Chatbots
  • Blockchain


Read the Terms and Conditions (pdf).

2018 Winner

2018 Finalists

2018 Participants

Jury Board

Daniel Coleman
Founder of Future Travel Experience
Detailed bio (pdf)


Nawal Taneja

Airline Business Strategist
Fisher College of Business Ohio State University
Detailed bio (pdf)

Maximillian Kovtun
President of Travelmate Robotics
Detailed bio (pdf)
Vicky Scherber
Head of Passenger & Baggage Processes, LH Group
Detailed bio (pdf)
Stuart Birrell
CIO of London Heathrow
Detailed bio (pdf)



1st Place

Three finalists

  • An Entry pass for one person to GAPS 2018
  • A networking desk for the duration of GAPS 2018 (2-4 October)
  • A sponsored economy flight and hotel to the GAPS 2018
  • Opportunity to present your idea to the audience of the GAPS 2018

  • 10 April 2018 - Competition launch
  • 27 July 2018 - Competition closure
  • 7 September 2018 - Announcement of the finalists
  • 2 - 4 October 2018 - Final round at the IATA GAPS conference

Frequently Asked Questions

Please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions below, and if you have other questions contact us at

Do I need to have a company to submit an idea?

Yes, the competition is only open to startup companies – please refer to the Terms and Conditions for more details on eligibility criteria.

Is there a cost associated with participation to this contest?

No, participation is free of charge.

Can I submit more than one business idea?

Yes, an entrant can submit more than one idea as part of a single submission, but only one submission per entrant is allowed.

What should the ideas be about?

The ideas should be about one or more of the competition topics; and ideally disrupt the travel value chain for the better leveraging new technologies. The goal should be to achieve any of the following objectives:

  • Decrease costs incurred by airlines and others across the travel value chain
  • Enhance the end-to-end travel experience
  • Simplify the processes for airlines and others across the travel value chain with focus on speed, efficiency, and effectiveness.
  • Enable ancillary revenues

What are the topics?

Baggage: In 2017 4 billion air passengers carried almost 4.5 billion bags with them as carry-on or checked-in luggage. As the number of air passengers rapidly increases, airports and airlines have been challenged to develop and introduce processes that will significantly improve throughput, whilst at the same time enhancing the entire passenger experience and ultimately reduce costs. Bear in mind, each mishandled bag is a costly affair; industry average tops US$ 250. There are process aspects that are critical for overall baggage handling quality, especially in the interface between different parties in a sensitive mix of technology and human factor. And then there is the customer side of tagging a bag, dropping it off, being able to track it (in the air or on the ground), to pick it up or get it delivered (at airport or at end destination). Efficient and without unexpected delays.
Disruption: When a flight is disrupted (e.g. cancelled, delayed, rescheduled or diverted en-route) a fast and efficient response to accommodate the affected passengers is paramount. How this is done from the airlines/airports side and to what extend the passengers have the tools to help themselves is dependent on a number of variables; the nature of the disruption, the airlines/airports capability to offer options in the air, on ground or internet/mobile devices etc. Despite best efforts it often comes down to staff support and available holding space. From the recent Global Passenger Survey we know that the passenger want to be in control and is willing to share information across stakeholders in return for a seamless and efficient travel experience. This implies automation and self-service that goes beyond notifications and real-time information – this is an opportunity that calls for innovation and smart solutions.
Unaccompanied Minors: When a child flies without the presence of a legal guardian, they are referred to as an “Unaccompanied Minor” and require special supervision – which also provides peace of mind for parents. There are rules and guidelines to safeguard the journey of a child, however, the tools to track the child or interact along the journey are limited. And what about disruptions? The unaccompanied child is particularly vulnerable in those situations - imagine the anxiety on both sides when something doesn’t go as planned.
Wayfinding and Passenger Tracking: Wayfinding is still ranking among the top most important points in the travel package. Good wayfinding has proven to be an excellent source to hassle free travel, making passengers feeling confident and secure. Generally speaking, the de-stress factor of good wayfinding increases the passengers’ awareness and readiness leading to a more seamless passenger process and improved punctuality. It also releases somewhat of an increased desire to shop and enjoy the commercial (or non-commercial) offerings from airlines and airports. What is the next gen of wayfinding? What services and tools will define the future? A world of opportunities.
Personalization: Our vision is to enhance the passenger journey by delivering a frictionless and personalized end-to-end travel experience. Service provision will be facilitated and streamlined based on the preferences and journey attributes voluntarily and specifically shared by the customer and his approval of contextualized data exchange between stakeholders. We envision a collaborative environment of travel stakeholders across the whole engagement cycle to meet the customers’ service expectations. With collaboration in place, various stakeholders can provide a much more tailored level of personalization that the customers expect and demand. Ample evidence from both inside and outside the travel industry suggests that many customers are willing to share subsets of their travel data between airline and non-airline travel providers. Unfortunately, no single member of the travel ecosystem has the capability to optimize the end-to-end journey on their own. Even the most capable and ambitious travel provider would need the cooperation of others to deliver integrated and contextual end-to-end travel services to its customers, and to do that, a coordination framework is needed. The potential benefits for the main aviation stakeholders and passengers are obvious; fewer process duplications, more time-efficient travel, improved experience during IROPS, more revenue due to higher visibility of services, increased ancillary sales, improved resource-planning and allocation etc.

No, you do not need to submit individually- you can submit your idea once as a team.

If my idea is a product already on the market, can I still submit it?

The competition is about new ideas, so ideally, the idea should not be a product or service that is already in the market. If it is in the market, it would have to be at the very early stages. Mature products that have already been implemented are out of scope for this competition.

Yes, please visit our website regularly to stay updated on the 2018 edition of the competition

How can I increase my chances of getting to the final round?

Ideas that are aligned with one of the 5 competition topics, leveraging emerging technologies, have the highest chance of getting through to the final round of this competition. Please refer to the Terms and Conditions for more detail. In addition including a short video (max. 2 min) pitching your idea is a great way of complementing your submission.