In BizLab, Air­bus found an op­por­tu­nity and ze­roed in on In­dia and Ben­galuru was se­lected as its base as it is home to a well en­dowed ecosys­tem for en­trepreneurs

SP's Airbuz - - Table of Contents - BY A. K. SACHDEV

SINCE THE LATE 1990S, Air­bus as a Euro­pean con­sor­tium and the Amer­i­can aerospace gi­ant Boe­ing, have been en­gaged in a duopolis­tic ri­valry in the large air­liner space in civil air­craft man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try. The quan­tum of or­ders they bag ev­ery year match each other; so do the ac­cu­sa­tions they ex­change about un­fair state pa­tron­age from their re­spec­tive ‘pro­tec­tion­ist’ gov­ern­ments. Both have pres­ence in In­dia, with the Air­bus A320 fam­ily en­joy­ing huge pop­u­lar­ity with air­lines that have come up since the new low-cost air­line wave ush­ered in by Cap­tain Gopinath’s Air Dec­can in 2003. Need­less to say, both Air­bus and Boe­ing are con­stantly vy­ing with each other to in­no­vate and steal a march over the other. Air­bus, in an en­deav­our to ex­ploit cre­ative and in­ven­tive ideas from within its own do­min­ion as also from cus­tomers, part­ners and in­dus­try re­sources, launched its own aerospace busi­ness ac­cel­er­a­tor in Septem­ber 2015 at Toulouse, the com­pany’s head­quar­ters. In­dia has been one of the early ben­e­fi­cia­ries of Air­bus BizLab, the name given to this ini­tia­tive. AIR­BUS BIZLAB. BizLab’s modus operandi is to seek ap­pli­ca­tions from en­tre­pre­neur and startup com­pa­nies for the ac­cel­er­a­tion pro­gramme. Air­bus em­ploy­ees, termed ‘in­trapreneurs’, are also in­vited to par­tic­i­pate by send­ing in pro­pos­als for in­no­va­tion. The sup­port of­fered over a six month “ac­cel­er­a­tion pro­gramme” pro­vides ex­tremely valu­able ex­po­sure to coaches, men­tors and in­dus­try pro­fes­sion­als in the ar­eas that a startup strug­gles to sus­tain it­self. This in­cludes rel­e­vant tech­nol­ogy, le­gal is­sues, pro­tec­tion of In­tel­lec­tual Prop­erty (IP) rights, mar­ket­ing, com­mu­ni­ca­tion, pitch­ing for fund­ing, find­ing a test en­vi­ron­ment for a new prod­uct and, in some cases, even find­ing cus­tomers. In short, BizLab pro­vides the much-needed as­sis­tance to a fledg­ling com­pany right when it needs it most.

The ac­cel­er­a­tion pro­gramme is based on the lean startup method­ol­ogy of fig­ur­ing out the prob­lem that needs to be solved and then devel­op­ing a min­i­mum vi­able prod­uct (MVP) to be­gin the process of learn­ing as quickly as pos­si­ble.and the pro­gramme is premised on three pil­lars: cus­tomer de­sir­abil­ity (mar­ket study & bench­mark, value propo­si­tion, cus­tomer ex­per­i­men­ta­tion), solu-

tion fea­si­bil­ity (proof of con­cept, prod­uct func­tion­al­i­ties def­i­ni­tion, MVP) and busi­ness vi­a­bil­ity (busi­ness model, risk as­sess­ment, cost ben­e­fit anal­y­sis). All com­pa­nies may not need to go through these three loops to achieve de­liv­er­ables de­cided dur­ing the pro­gramme. All par­tic­i­pants also get an op­por­tu­nity on a ‘Demo Day’ at Toulouse to present their projects to Air­bus de­ci­sion mak­ers, ven­ture cap­i­tal­ists, cus­tomers and part­ners of Air­bus. BIZLAB IN IN­DIA. Af­ter launch­ing BizLab in Toulouse and then set­ting up an­other unit in Ham­burg, Air­bus ze­roed in on In­dia and Ben­galuru was se­lected as the most suit­able city as it is home to a well en­dowed ecosys­tem for en­trepreneurs, es­pe­cially those in­volved in In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy (IT) or aerospace. Re­ferred to as the In­dian Sil­i­con Val­ley and the aerospace cap­i­tal of In­dia, Ben­galuru was the ideal choice for lo­cat­ing BizLab. The unit was col­lo­cated with the big­gest French busi­ness ac­cel­er­a­tor NUMA, de­scribed by its of­fi­cial site as a ne­ol­o­gism made up by ‘numérique’ stand­ing for dig­i­tal and ‘ hu­main’ stand­ing for hu­man. The idea was to ex­ploit the syn­ergy thus cre­ated be­tween NUMA and BizLab es­pe­cially in what they can share in terms of ex­perts, men­tors, in­vestors, le­gal en­ti­ties and so on. Re­port­edly, Bruno Gu­tier­res, Head Air­bus BizLab de­clared at the time of set­ting up the Ben­galuru unit that, “With the Air­bus BizLab Ben­galuru we are broad­en­ing our hori­zons and we aim to ac­cel­er­ate the rise of an In­dian aero­nau­ti­cal en­trepreneur­ship.”

The first sea­son in 2016 saw four com­pa­nies, three from In­dia and one from the US, se­lected out of a to­tal of 80 ap­pli­cants from seven coun­tries. Two of these had di­rect avi­a­tion re­lated prod­ucts un­der de­vel­op­ment: Blue Morfo from In­dia which was devel­op­ing a mo­bile ap­pli­ca­tion to de­tect and pre­vent spe­cific cor­po­rate health re­lated is­sues, such as ex­po­sure of air­line crew to jet­lag, cabin pres­suri­sa­tion etc and Shoonya Games, again from In­dia, which was propos­ing in­ter­ac­tive gam­ing so­lu­tions for train­ing and mar­ket­ing pur­poses through the use of Vir­tual Re­al­ity and 3D tech­nolo­gies em­bed­ded in a mo­bile de­vice.

Ap­pli­ca­tions were in­vited for the sec­ond sea­son in Ben­galuru in Novem­ber 2016 ask­ing for projects in­clud­ing the de­vel­op­ment of a prod­uct, a ser­vice, an ap­pli­ca­tion re­lated to aug­mented re­al­ity, as well as data anal­y­sis, in­ter­net of things and dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion, which could be used in the aero­nau­ti­cal in­dus­try. 137 hope­fuls were in the fray of which seven were se­lected based on their po­ten­tial to in­no­vate in the realm of aerospace. EF­light has ser­vices that of­fers flight plan­ning and trip sup­port for op­er­a­tions con­ducted by small air­craft op­er­a­tors in In­dia. Nee­wee is an In­dus­trial An­a­lyt­ics com­pany fo­cused on In­ter­net of Things and Procurement An­a­lyt­ics. Nee­wee of­fers ex­ten­sive use of Ar­ti­fi­cial In­tel­li­gence and Ma­chine Learn­ing al­go­rithms to de­tect and di­ag­nose is­sues with in­dus­trial as­sets. Ste­lae Tech­nolo­gies has cre­ated Ar­ti­fi­cial In­tel­li­gence soft­ware which trans­forms un­struc­tured con­tent (PDF, Word, ASCII, etc.) into struc­tured, search­able and in­dex­able out­put. This out­put can be in­jected into Con­tent Man­age­ment, Big Data & An­a­lyt­ics and Con­tent Min­ing so­lu­tions. The soft­ware is cur­rently im­ple­mented at ma­jor en­ter­prise and pub­lic sec­tor en­ti­ties across many ver­ti­cals such as laws and leg­is­la­tion, me­dia/pub­lish­ing, fi­nan­cial ser­vices, e-com­merce, and since 2014, in the aerospace and de­fence sec­tors. SYm­bosim lever­ages state-of-the-art math­e­mat­ics, rig­or­ous science, cloud com­put­ing and en­gi­neer-friendly in­ter­faces for de­sign of com­pos­ite ma­te­ri­als and struc­tures. Their so­lu­tion drastically re­duces the time and cost from ideation to mar­ket. Earth2Or­bit cre­ates GeoIn­tel­li­gence data prod­ucts that lever­age satel­lite im­agery to pro­vide lo­ca­tion- spe­cific com­mer­cial, eco­nomic, en­vi­ron­men­tal and so­cial in­tel­li­gence in a cost-ef­fec­tive man­ner. All five com­pa­nies men­tioned above are from Ben­galuru. Ac­celo from Nagpur is an Ar­ti­fi­cial In­tel­li­gence-based In­ter­net of Things startup with the vi­sion of en­sur­ing road safety in In­dia by pro­vid­ing pre­ven­tive so­lu­tions to drivers as well as ac­ci­dent re­sponse time man­age­ment. In­no­va­tive Bi­nar­ies from Sin­ga­pore of­fers an Ar­ti­fi­cial In­tel­li­gence plat­form which pro­vides the quick­est way for op­er­a­tors to lever­age ben­e­fits of their air­craft sen­sor data. Among other ser­vices the plat­form pro­vides pre­dic­tive main­te­nance, in­ven­tory op­ti­mi­sa­tion and fuel op­ti­mi­sa­tion. Users of the plat­form in­clude air­craft op­er­a­tors, MROs, air­craft and com­po­nent OEMs and com­mer­cial drone op­er­a­tors. As can be seen, the Air­bus phi­los­o­phy of in­no­vat­ing and con­tribut­ing to aerospace sec­tor un­der­lies BizLab pro­gramme.

The first four com­pa­nies listed above fi­nally com­pleted the ac­cel­er­a­tor pro­gramme suc­cess­fully be­tween Jan­uary and July this year. Of these, Ef­light (new name Gha­gane Avi­a­tion) is of di­rect in­ter­est to In­dian civil avi­a­tion as it aims to solve a per­pet­ual prob­lem of small air­craft op­er­a­tors namely Non-Sched­uled Op­er­a­tor Per­mit hold­ers, pri­vately held busi­ness air­craft own­ers and state gov­ern­ments. While the small air­craft op­er­a­tors have to meet all re­quire­ments for dis­patch­ing an air­craft that a sched­uled air­line does, there is a stark con­trast in the man­power that a small op­er­a­tor and an air­line can af­ford and field. Thus in the case of the for­mer, the pi­lot ends up per­form­ing a large num­ber of tasks that, in an air­line, would have been per­formed by other func­tionar­ies at the de­par­ture and ar­rival sta­tions. These in­clude flight plan­ning, air­port clear­ances, re­fu­el­ing, ground han­dling, ho­tel book­ings and crew trans­porta­tion. But Gen­eral Avi­a­tion Pi­lots tend to do all these tasks as com­pa­nies do not want to em­ploy ex­tra hands as there’s no fixed sched­ule and man­power cost in Avi­a­tion is also high. So to re­duce cost, most of the times the Pi­lots end up spend­ing 30 min­utes be­fore each flight for plan­ning all these tasks. Ef­light is the only one in In­dia with a web­site that is con­nected to Air­port Author­ity of In­dia’s net­work al­low­ing pi­lots to file flight plans on­line and ob­tain air­port clear­ance num­ber through SMS thereby avoid­ing the need to fax flight plans or visit Air Traf­fic Con­trol to ob­tain clear­ance. The web­site also per­mits elec­tronic cal­cu­la­tion of Flight Duty Time Lim­i­ta­tions and flags any pos­si­ble vi­o­la­tions at the time of plan­ning a flight. Ef­light has an im­pres­sive list of sat­is­fied clients and is look­ing for growth through its as­so­ci­a­tion with Air­bus BizLab. CON­CLU­SION. The third sea­son has been an­nounced and the process is on to se­lect the ben­e­fi­cia­ries for the sea­son be­gin­ing end of this year. In­dia is for­tu­nate to be one of the coun­tries that gained from Air­bus Bizlab. While Air­bus mo­ti­va­tion be­hind Bizlab is to com­mer­cialise in­no­va­tive ideas har­vested from in­dus­try, In­dia found in it an op­por­tu­nity for avi­a­tion-re­lated star­tups to se­cure sus­te­nance needed dur­ing fledg­ling days of ex­is­tence.


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