Aeroporti di Roma: A runway to the future


23 March 2023



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Emanuele Calà, Innovation & Quality Vice President of Aeroporti di Roma, tells International Airport Review about the airport’s first Corporate Venture Capital firm dedicated to innovation, ADR Ventures.

Over the last few years, Aeroporti di Roma (ADR) has increasingly invested in innovation. Bringing together a series of Italian and international actors to undertake an integrated journey aimed at creating an advanced innovation ecosystem and lead the transformation of airports into an inclusive hub, with platforms at the heart of technological developments. A place where new projects and ideas can be tested.

In this context, the last two years have certainly seen some significant steps forward: we established ADR’s Innovation Committee; formed our Innovation Cabin Crew made of 30 ambassadors from the company; we built partnerships with some of the most respected international players – including Plug & Play Tech Center and PWC; we promoted the creation of the network Airports for Innovation, together with AENA, Athens and Nice Airport; we launched our first global ‘Call 4 Ideas’ getting more then 100 project proposals, and opened ADR’s Innovation Hub – the first accelerator for start-ups located at the heart of an airport terminal in Europe, a space thought and designed for start-ups to fine-tune their projects since the very beginning, working closely with ADR’s mentors and employees, as well as with all the partners.

Now, as the first two milestones of 2023 in our innovation-oriented path, we have successfully created our first Corporate Venture Capital firm dedicated to innovation, ADR Ventures, and launched a second global Call for Ideas.

Compared to the first Call 4 Ideas that we launched, for this edition of the Call we have expanded the areas of work involved, focusing not solely on technology, passenger experience and commercial, but also including sustainability.

Accordingly, the eight areas of work are:

  • Predictive maintenance: solutions that enable preventive maintenance through the use of innovative technologies.
  • Enhance terminal processes: solutions that enable more efficient/effective processes.
  • Improve airside operations: solutions that improve aircraft turnaround.
  • Environmental impact: solutions that aim to reduce environmental impact and energy consumption.
  • Community and sustainability: solutions that create value for the territory, local communities and environment.
  • Passenger experience: solutions that increase the quality offered to passengers, not only at the airport but also before and after the flight.
  • Commercial opportunities: solutions aimed at increasing sales opportunities.
  • Disruptive solutions: a free area where any start-up can propose a solution without any thematic constraints.

As a main upgrade, we have also teamed up with six corporate partners, representing excellences in their fields, to scale up the selection and share their know-how. In addition to the above, the creation of Aeroporti di Roma’s new corporate vehicle ADR Ventures precisely aims at further encouraging start-ups, offering financing opportunities for the projects with high innovation potential; ADR Ventures will have the ambition to operate as an engine for the development of youth entrepreneurship, ensuring support for the most virtuous start-ups with greater perspective, supporting them in the integration with the business and in the management of investment processes, accelerating their process of business growth and marketing of the innovative solution devised.

Among the objectives of the new company there will also be those of managing investments in the capital of start-ups through due diligence, monitoring the companies in which investments have been planned, identifying potential target companies through dedicated scouting, characterised by growth prospects and functional to the creation of new services and solutions to build, together with Aeroporti di Roma, the airport of the future. The activity of ADR Ventures will not be limited solely to the contribution of risk capital, but it will also work on a series of activities connected and instrumental to the realization of the entrepreneurial ideas.

Our perspective is that solely by investing in new companies and in the young entrepreneurs that work everyday from our Innovation Hub we will be able to generate real value, favouring the digital transformation of our airports, Fiumicino and Ciampino, while contributing to the lead the wider transition towards innovation & sustainability that the whole industry is preparing to face, and shape the future of aviation with dynamic start-ups from around the world.

Emanuele Calà, Innovation & Quality Vice President of Aeroporti di Roma, tells International Airport Review about the airport’s first Corporate Venture Capital firm dedicated to innovation, ADR Ventures.Emanuele Calà graduated in Business Administration from LUISS Guido Carli University of Rome in 2004. He became Head of Aeroporti di Roma’s Innovation and Quality departments in July 2020. He joined the Atlantia Group in 2004; since then, he has held positions of increasing responsibility within the Group’s main companies, such as Autostrade per l’Italia, Atlantia and Aeroporti di Roma, in the areas of business controlling, programme management, quality and innovation. As of May 2021, Emanuele is Innovation & Quality Vice President at Aeroporti di Roma.