Hi there,

This week we are celebrating the three-year anniversary of our newsletter. Hooray!

In March 2018, we started sending out our very first email update to less than 100 of our closest colleagues and business partners to inform them about the most relevant startup trends in Travel and Mobility Tech.

Fast forward 36 months and more than 13,000 industry professionals from around the world have signed up for our bi-weekly dose of data-driven market intelligence in the context of travel and mobility.

Interestingly, 2/3 of our subscribers only periodically engage with our emails. But the other 1/3 very actively read and interact with our content.

We feel incredibly humbled that so many of you find value in our research. 

This motivates us a lot to come up with new unconventional data views that reveal the radical shifts affecting our industry. 

And to all of you who rarely open our emails, that’s ok. Please keep yourself subscribed, so we can continue to brag about our growing subscriber base. 

But seriously, if you have any suggestions on how we can improve our content, please reach out.

We know you don’t need more tech news, but you do need better tech news.  

Today's newsletter specs: 1,461 words, about 6 minutes of reading time.


Lennart Dobravsky
Director Research & Intelligence, Lufthansa Innovation Hub


How China is bringing the elderly online

Life in China has long returned to normal as if the pandemic was over.

So, we tracked recoveries in China in search of a sneak peek into what the post-pandemic future might look like, and what learnings it might hold for the rest of the world. 

There was one leading trend we identified as worth digging deeper into above all the rest: China’s efforts in growing digital adoption among the elderly population.
200 million people stuck in the digital divide
There is a considerable amount of elderly people that have long been untouched by new technologies, even in a highly digitalized society like China.

Government statistics show that the population over 60 accounts for 18.1% of China’s total population, but they represent 46% of all non-internet users.
China aims to "senior-ize" apps
To encourage more seniors to use digital offerings, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) launched a special campaign in late 2020 to mandate the largest Chinese tech providers to tailor their apps to the needs of the elderly.

On the list are many of the so-called super apps, including the messaging app WeChat, the ride-hailing app Didi, and the travel booking app Ctrip.
In January this year, Didi, for instance, launched a separate mini-app on WeChat for seniors to hail a taxi-ride with just a few clicks.
Compared to the standard version, the new app features larger fonts, a more simplistic design, and a senior-centered function that regularly-used addresses can be pre-set in the app as ride destinations.

The latter is a simple feature that solves the issue of seniors struggling to type addresses on digital keyboards and navigate maps.
The bigger trend
For tech companies, launching enhanced features for the older generation comes with additional development costs.

To justify these expenses, companies aren’t only building “tech for good”—they’re also eyeing to capture the massive financial potential of the silver market.
According to Alibaba and its online shopping app Taboao, the annual online consumption of the over-60 segment grew 20.9% from 2018 to 2020, only second to post-2000s among all other age cohorts. 
Same world, same challenge
It is the world’s shared challenge that an increasing share of society is aging, and the elderly are in urgent need of more intuitive digital products. 
In Germany, seniors aged over 80 are among the first groups to benefit from the vaccination roll-out. However, many are struggling to make appointments remotely, due to either a lack of internet-savviness for online registration or a hotline that is hard to get through. 
The same problem applies to the U.S., where dozens of websites need to be checked for a vaccine appointment. Each site has its own sign-up protocols, leaving some appalled when making vaccine appointments for older relatives.
Giving wings to the elderly, among other “less-digitally-capable” groups, to explore the digital world should not be optional.

Covid-19 has initiated a transformational moment to drive mass digitalization, and it’s prime time to rethink the inclusion of those needs who are often neglected.

To read more about the cross-border trends and learnings from the Travel and Mobility Tech sector in Asia, download our free Asia Report.

Chart of the week: CO2 output

The data chart of the week comes from Eurocontrol. 

They calculated that half of CO2 emissions in aviation last year came from just 6% of flights: the long-haul ones.

How come? Longer distances naturally mean longer duration flights, and mostly by larger aircraft.
What the chart also shows is that flights shorter than 500km (30.6% of all departures in 2020) only generated 4.3% of emissions.

An interesting data point, keeping in mind that domestic flights are usually considered as the scapegoats for the climate crisis.

So long-haul flights are bad and short-haul flights are not?

Well, the Eurocontrol chart is slightly misleading because the standard definition of short vs. medium vs. long-haul flights is different than the chart suggests. 

Short-haul flights are usually defined as flights up to 1500km. Applying this logic to the chart and the numbers look different.
As you can see, short-haul flights now make up close to a quarter of emissions, not 4%.

And even with this modification, we can’t really treat short and long-haul flights the same. 
  • For most long-haul flights, there is little to no alternative for passengers and urgent cargo while many short-haul flights could be avoided by using the train.
  • Furthermore, for a cleaner apple-to-apple comparison, we should consider CO2 emissions per capita and kilometer. In this case, the impact of short-haul flights would become a lot worse.
Speaking of a more comparable benchmarking approach, we are currently putting a big research piece together.

Think of it as an extension of our 2019 infographic where my colleague Kolin compared the carbon emission output per kilometer for all major transport modes.

Stay tuned.

New air taxi patent filed

The European Patent Office [EPO] recently published a new patent application by German air taxi startup Volocopter protecting a new aerial vehicle design.

The new design deviates from Volocopter's current air taxi concept of the VoloCity, the self-proclaimed "superior air taxi for the inner city".
The title of the patent application “VTOL aircraft with wing connecting booms” already indicates that the new design includes aircraft-like wings, and looks more like other mid to long-range eVTOL aircraft developed by competitors auch as Lilium or Joby Aviation.

Is Volocopter potentially developing this new vehicle type to move away from its urban intra-city focus towards the longer-range intercity market?

This would be an interesting development and contradict Volocopter's original pitch of seeing most business potential in the urban transportation context. 
The bigger picture
Traditional aviation technology, meaning all the engineering related to aircraft design is by far the most heavily protected IP field.

2/3 of all air taxi related patents filed over the past 20 years fall into this category–ahead of IT, Electronics, and Communications.
According to our analysis, three primary vehicle design types have so far prevailed in the research community:
  1. Wingless Multicopters (e.g. Volcopter)
  2. Vectored Thrust Jets (e.g. Lilium)
  3. Tilt-Wing / Hybrid Aircraft (e.g. Joby Aviation)
The question about which vehicle design performs the best in terms of:
  • Stability
  • Aerodynamical efficiency
  • Weight
  • Noise level
  • Power consumption
is yet to be determined.

Unfortunately, there is very little hard data to compare the current aircraft types of eVTOL manufacturers. Therefore, the validity of the underlying business models and market segmentation remains highly speculative.

Obviously, providing answers to the best design is of high strategic relevance as the design choice has a long-term impact on potential use cases, market size, and commercial viability.

For more insights about the state of air taxi technology and which companies own the strongest patent portfolios, check out our free report:
 Press Picks 

Our recommended must reads 

MOST INNOVATIVE TRAVEL COMPANIES – Few industries were as hard-hit by the pandemic as travel. The companies on this list, however, found ways to deliver the joy and wonder of experiencing new places while prioritizing travelers’ safety. 
 Read more by Fast Company  
SHIFT IN TRAVEL BEHAVIOR – As travelers begin planning trips again, it is a good time to look at the trends driving Airbnb’s popularity and what they mean for business and leisure travel in 2021 and the years to come. 
 Read more in PhocusWire
NYC TRANSIT IN ONE CHART – The pandemic has profoundly disrupted the largest public transit system in America, throwing it into financial turmoil. Check out how the coronavirus has changed New York City transit in this powerful visualization.
 Read more in the New York Times
ZOOM FATIGUE – Stanford researchers identify four causes for ‘Zoom fatigue’ and their simple fixes. And it’s not just Zoom. Popular video chat platforms have design flaws that exhaust the human mind and body. 
 Read more by Standford News
ROBO DRIVERS – Waymo, formerly the Google self-driving car project that is now operating a limited driverless taxi service near Phoenix, has released a study intended to prove that its robot drivers are safer than humans.
 Read more on Waymo's blog
 Deal Tracker 

Most recent Venture Capital deals

 = Exit Alert (startup listed at the stock exchange or got acquired)

 = Unicorn Alert (post-deal company valuation at >$1B) 

Optibus – the Israeli cloud-based platform to facilitate mass transit through algorithms raised $107M from Bessemer Venture Partners, BlueRed Partners, and further investors. 

Snapcommerce – the Canadian mobile shopping enabler through messaging, previously known as SnapTravel, raised $85M from Inovia Capital, Lion Capital, and further investors.  

OTM Group – the Chinese hotel management software raised $61.74M from China Creation Ventures, and Gaorong Capital. 

Damon Motorcycles – the Canadian all-electric hyberbikes developer raised $30M from Benevolent Capital, Sol Global Investments, and Zirmania. 

Qcraft – the Chinese autonomous driving startups raised at least $25M from Bytedance. 

 Bolt – the Estonian on-demand transportation platform raised $24M from International Finance Corporation. 

Cosi – the Berlin-based alternative accommodation startups raised $20M from Soravia and others. 

Aero Technologies – the San Francisco-based high-end air travel startup raised $20M from Keyframe Capital, Cyrus Capital, and further investors.

Banzai – the Seattle-based startup that sells event marketing software raised $15M from Columbia Pacific Advisors and Gaingels. 

Karos – the French carpooling platform raised $8.45M from European Commission, Mutuelle Assurance Commerçants et Industriels France, and further investors. 

Flexclub – the Netherlands-based subscription-based marketplace to buy, rent and sell cars raised $5M from Kindred Ventures and further investors. 

Handys – the South Korea-based lodging company raised $1.8M from DSC Investment. 

Feedback, thoughts, ideas? Contact us:

Forward to a friend

Copyright © 2021 Lufthansa Innovation Hub, All rights reserved.