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Silicon Valley accelerator event brings companies from around the world to Gatwick

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Daniel Haque, Chief Digital Officer, VINCI Airports, Abhi Chacko, Head of Innovation, Gatwick Airport, Cedric Laurier, Chief Technical Officer, Gatwick Airport
Daniel Haque, Chief Digital Officer, VINCI Airports, Abhi Chacko, Head of Innovation, Gatwick Airport, Cedric Laurier, Chief Technical Officer, Gatwick Airport

A Silicon Valley ‘accelerator’ hosted an event at Gatwick Airport yesterday that brought tech start-ups – from the UK, USA, India, Israel, Austria and Denmark – together with VINCI Airport’s global network, and other UK airports, airlines and universities to help drive airport innovations forward.

Plug & Play, a Silicon Valley-based accelerator, introduces new tech start-ups and entrepreneurs to established businesses with a view to fast tracking their innovations and driving forward improvements at scale across a particular sector – in this case airports.

Gatwick – a leading airport innovator and an innovation centre of excellence for Vinci Airports – has an ongoing relationship with Plug and Play and hosted the event, which looked at technological solutions for a range of airport issues.

Sixteen start-up companies from around the world attended, including:

  • London and Copenhagen-based platforms that connect travellers with hotels and shops where they can store bags – without searching for a specialist luggage facility
  • Paris-based start-up that helps airlines improve fuel efficiency – saving money and emissions
  • A New York-based firm that uses machine learning predict flight disruption and automatically rebook passengers on alternative flights
  • A London-based start-up that aims to make air travel ‘baggage-less’ by checking-in luggage at home and delivering it to the passenger’s final destination

The start-ups pitched their products to event attendees and five “reverse-pitches” were also given by airport users – including pilots, airfield staff and others who work at the airport – to highlight challenges they face so that the start-ups could take these away and work up possible future solutions.

Local universities and business groups were also among those attending, including the University of Sussex, the University of Chichester, and Chambers of Commerce from both Horley and Crawley. 

Abhi Chacko, Head of Innovation, Gatwick Airport, gave an overview of recent innovations at the airport – including a passenger chatbot and the use of computer vision to measure the amount of hand luggage due to go on an aircraft. 

He said:

This event kick-started numerous discussions that may not otherwise have happened and we hope it will supercharge airport innovation at Gatwick and other airports across the UK and further afield.

“By deploying the latest innovations, Gatwick has been able to deliver some best in class passenger services. Technology moves fast however and events like this help Gatwick and VINCI Airports to stay ahead of the curve so we can become early adopters of appropriate advances that will improve the service we offer passengers.”

Amir Amidi, Managing Partner, Plug and Play Travel & Hospitality, said: 

“Our Plug and Play Travel program innovation day at Gatwick Airport is by far the largest airport centric event we have co-hosted since launching the Travel & Hospitality program in Silicon Valley in 2016. Plug and Play currently helps 14 airports including Gatwick and Changi on their digitization initiatives by putting them in touch with relevant and cutting-edge technologies developed by startups from all around the globe. Our 2020 goal is to grow our partnerships with another 50+ airports in our Silicon Valley and Travel EU program out of Vienna. 

“Airports have a rich environment for testing and deploying new technologies because we view them as “mini cities” with their concessions, real estate footprint, security measures and most recently sustainable initiatives. By teaming up together, airports can take advantage of multiple specific practices that Plug and Play has to offer such as Supply Chain, Smart Cities, Mobility, Energy, Sustainability, Retail, Financial Services, Real Estate & Construction etc.” 

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Average families water & waste bill in Crawley to fall by almost £50 this year

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Southern Water Bill

The dramatic drop in the bill from Southern Water comes mainly as a result of a fall in price for the wasterwater element of the bills.

The drop of an average 11.2 per cent for 2020-21 is for the combined bill of water and wasterwater treatment services.

A typical combined bill for a domestic customer is expected to be £391 compared with an average charge of £440 last year – meaning a day’s services will cost only £1.07 a day – less than most bus fares. The cost is 13p a day or £49 a year less than last year.

The water element of bills is almost flat – the expected average is £159 compared with £156 in 2019-20. Wastewater bills will fall by an average £52 including a rebate of around £20 attributable to the company’s final settlement with Ofwat.

The big drop in bills comes at the start of a sustained fall in combined bills. Between 2020 and 2025 bills will fall by 18.4 per cent (adjusted for inflation). By 2025 the average household bill for water and wastewater will be just £343 a year. Water bills will fall 8 per cent during that time while wastewater bills will fall 24 per cent.

Southerwater say this is the start of a new ear with Ian McAulay, Southern Water chief executive adding:

“Water is essential to every aspect of our lives but it is under increasing pressure from population growth and climate change. So water companies have got to work even harder to face these challenges and keep it flowing far into the future whilst delivering the services our customers want and deserve.

Our customers have said they want us to do more to protect the environment and increase biodiversity, that’s why over the next 5 years our ‘Water for Life’ business plan will invest £4 billion into our region, generating jobs and protecting the environment whilst ensuring we keep bills affordable and support those in need.”

Southern Water has currently three key investments being worked on which include a £27.5 million five year phase of the Bathing Water Enhancement Programme which they say has helped to raise 58 out of the region’s 83 bathing waters to the “Excellent” standard.

They are also commissioning £100 million investment in rebuilding the Woolston wastewater treatment works and constructing a £15 million Chichester pipeline to support growth in the region.

Rachel Ryan-Crisp, Southern Water’s Vulnerability Lead, says:

“There are many people out there that don’t even know that these services exist and for an array of reasons whether they struggle to pay or require more support from their supplier. We can assist and offer extra care to a range of people such as those living with long-term illness, disability, the elderly and even new parent or parents with young children. Help us to help you by getting in touch for advice or by spreading the word to friends and family who could benefit.”

More details about our tariff schemes can be found here https://www.southernwater.co.uk/account/help-paying-your-bill

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