A Science and Innovation Audit (SIA), focussed on Innovation for Sustainable Airports using Heathrow as the primary place, has been published by a consortium of partners led by Brunel University London.
Heathrow Airport represents 1% of UK GDP and is recognised for excellence in customer experience and operational efficiency, operating at 98% capacity. It also aims to be a leader in environmental sustainability, a position helped by Heathrow 2.0, the airport’s sustainability leadership strategy. It is the most efficient 2-runway airport in the world, and while aviation is growing globally, research, innovation and business collaboration will be critical for this growth to be sustainable.
Heathrow Airport is a mixed economy delivering a single purpose -excellent journeys. This SIA looked to explore and validate specific areas of excellence across the Heathrow system and use these to demonstrate potential global competitive advantage.
The SIA study focussed on four key themes: Big Data and Cyber Security, Intelligent Mobility, Sustainable Construction and Operational Excellence, to help make Heathrow and the UK system of businesses the home of Sustainable Airport innovation by 2020.
The SIA highlights the importance of the sector to the UK economy. However four main challenges have been identified which if addressed could ensure that research and innovation is harnessed to deliver innovative technologies for future airports increasing productivity, exports and economic growth.
They are the connection between the research base and industry supporting innovation; the availability of space for businesses to grow; the lack of incubators or accelerators; and higher level skills shortages.
The process of carrying out the audit has led to the development of a network of organisations committed to collaborate together to meet the highlighted challenges and exploit the opportunities identified through research and innovation.