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We examine smart ecosystems and local, regional, national and transnational innovation networks and knowledge clusters as the operationalization theory, policy and practice framework for our ideas and recommendations. Within those, smart airports constitute agglomerations of people, culture and technology that serve as pivotal business model innovation and digital transformation drivers.

We include and leverage design thinking in our approach where we deploy modalities of thinkinginside the box as well as thinking outside the box and thinking beyond the box (TITB, TOTB, TB2) (Carayannis GWU Lectures, 2010-2017).

This proposed lecture takes innovation of airport economy as its starting point, discussing how to combine technology with the economic as well as the social sustainability development.

Innovation is a process by which new ideas are converted into economic value. In general terms, innovation falls into two broad categories: evolutionary and revolutionary. Evolutionary innovations make an existing product or service cheaper, faster, more exciting, more profitable and / or more valuable and in this context, we focus both on the intrinsic Value Proposition as well as the relevant Business Models of our proposed action items.

We aim to deal with issues such as:

  • How do can airport innovation and sustainability be fostered?
  • How do the Quintuple Helix model can tackle existing social and environmental challenges? (Barth, 2011; Carayannis and Campbell, 2010)
  • When, how and why can a Smart Airport design and implementation serve as a strategic multiplier and driver of sustainably resilient “unfair” competitive advantage at the local, regional and even national levels?
  • What are the related appropriate strategies, policies, practices and business models?

We will provide a conceptual framework as guidance for the successful strategic integration of currently available and / or emerging socio-technical, socio-economic and socio-political modalities that would support and be synergistic with the next generation Smart Airport of the future.

There are many examples in Airports innovation: the emergence of eco-friendly and locally-sourced eating options replacing fast food eateries at airports; more comfortable seats; airport landside facilities design; cybersecurity tools; the introduction of premium economy class; best-in-class interactive maps to guide passengers along typical pathways between public transport points, checkin counters, immigration, Automated People Mover, boarding/arrival gates and baggage claim area; baggage robot; wearable technology; improved passenger apps. All of these advances stem from ideas that have made the passenger experience better than it was before.

On the other hand, some revolutionary innovations are totally changing the game. The creation of the jet engine; introduction of low cost carriers; the Dave Carroll phenomenon; and the proliferation of mobile technology have each radically changed the nature, and sources of revenue, in the airport industry.

Moreover, new challenges and insights come from social responsibility as well as environmental sustainability. Experts have argued that “sustainability-driven’ innovation is improving the creation of new market space, products and services or processes driven by social, environmental or sustainability issues” (Arthur D. Little, 2004).

Current and emerging technologies as well as policies and practices regarding smart technologies, ambient intelligence, the internet of things, 3D and 4D printing, digital transformation, biometrics, semantics, deep learning as well as the underlying 7Ps of strategic analytics (proactive, patient, persevering, persistent, predictive, preventive and pre-emptive) (Carayannis, Cyber-Security Lectures, 2012-2017), serve as points of reference and guidelines for policy and practice in shaping the Smart Airports of the future as enablers, catalysts and accelerators of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.

The case for Europe and in particular the European south is especially timely, compelling and urgent as such smart infra-structures and infra-technologies that are constituent modules of a local, regional, national and trans-national smart transportation and connectivity architecture (that includes smart airports and smart cities) can provide the window of opportunity for catching up and even leapfrogging of less developed regions in Europe and the world.

We include emerging best practices and sources of insight from airports around the world as casesin- point to learn from and adapt as needed to local exigencies and priorities.

Dr. Elias G. Carayannis is full professor of science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship, as well as co-founder and co-director of the Global and Entrepreneurial Finance Research Institute (GEFRI) and director of research on science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship, European Union Research Center, (EURC) at the School of Business of the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Carayannis’ teaching and research activities focus on the areas of strategic government-university-industry R&D partnerships, technology road-mapping, technology transfer and commercialization, international science and technology policy, technological entrepreneurship and regional economic development.

Dr. Carayannis has several publications in both academic and practitioner journals, including IEEE Transactions in Engineering Management, Research Policy, Journal of R&D Management, Journal of Engineering and Technology Management, International Journal of Technology Management, Technovation, Journal of Technology Transfer, Engineering Management Journal, Journal of Growth and Change, Review of Regional Studies, International Journal of Global Energy Issues, International Journal of Environment and Pollution, Le Progres Technique, and Focus on Change Management. He has also published more than twenty books to date on science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship with Springer, CRC Press, Praeger/Greenwood, Palgrave/MacMillan and Edward Elgar, and has several more projects under contract.

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