Articles & Case Studies by Industry


How Truck Manufacturer PACCAR is Innovating for the Long Haul

When Elon Musk first teased the all-electric Tesla Semi in 2017, he said “This will be a very spry truck. You can drive this around like a sports car.” We’ll have to wait until later this year to see if that statement holds up, but what’s clear now is that Tesla isn’t alone in the ring of companies experimenting with electric, autonomous, and smarter commercial vehicles. We sat down with Kyle Quinn, CTO at the truck manufacturer PACCAR to learn about the company’s innovation focuses, what technology his team is pursuing, and how he approaches being PACCAR’s first CTO.

Lyft COO Jon McNeill Talks Tesla, “Peak Car,” and the Future of Mobility

Lyft’s COO Jon McNeill has spent his career in the mobility industry, scaling both startups and billion dollar companies. McNeill shared his experiences at Innovation Leader’s 2018 Impact event, where he discussed the innovative culture at Tesla, Lyft’s mission, and the future of mobility.

How JetBlue is Navigating the Turbulent World of Corporate Venture Capital

In nearly three years of existence, JetBlue Technology Ventures has put money into 20 startups, which are building everything from more localized weather prediction technology to artificially-intelligent assistants that can help small businesspeople manage their travel plans. “Our mission is to stay ahead of where JetBlue is now—thinking beyond the horizon, two, five, 10 years out—and how travel might change,” says Bonny Simi, President of the corporate venture capital group.

Southwest Airlines President: ‘If You Don’t Like Change, You’re Going to Hate Extinction’

Southwest is the country’s biggest airline, with 55,000 employees serving 115 million passengers annually. We spoke with President Tom Nealon about how the airline is working to address customer and employee pain points.

Uber Isn’t Joking About Flying Cars

Uber’s Elevate initiative aims to launch a new fleet of electric aircraft that would carry a pilot and up to four passengers. And the company plans to begin its first Elevate test flights in 2020 in places like Dubai, Los Angeles, and Dallas, and be fully operational by 2023. We talk to two of the NASA veterans overseeing the project.

In San Diego, Transforming an Unused Airport Terminal into an Innovation Lab

“What we’ve done with the innovation lab is say, ‘Maybe there are other ways to create an experience for our passengers that also helps to increase and create different streams of revenue,’” says Rick Belliotti, the San Diego International Airport’s Director of Innovation and Small Business Development. Innovation Leader sat down with Belliotti to discuss the lab’s approach to creating partnerships, how the airport innovates in a regulated environment, and what it really takes to make airports better for travelers.

How Delta Air Lines is Prioritizing Innovation in an Operationally-Intensive Culture

It’s hard to think of a more complicated, operationally-intensive business than air transport. It’s regulated and overseen by a federal agency. Customers expect on-time arrivals, food, and frequent flier miles—and increasingly, in-flight wifi. And every new plane you add to the fleet can cost $75 million or more, and needs to be inspected regularly. In that environment, what role does innovation play? That’s the very big question that Matt Muta, VP of Innovation and Operations Technology at Delta Air Lines, has been responsible for answering since March 2014, when he joined the company from Microsoft. Our interview inside…

How BMW’s corporate venture capital strategy is changing

Last November, five years after starting a corporate venture capital group, carmaker BMW announced that it would invest up to 500 million Euros over the next decade, across a broad swath of the tech landscape, from 3D printing to on-demand transportation to smart logistics. BMW also moved its US office from New York to Silicon Valley, and accelerated the decision-making process for making new investments. We spoke to Managing Director Ulrich Quay to understand what’s behind all of the changes.

At Honda’s Silicon Valley Lab, riding shotgun with Google, Apple, Visa, and others

While it began life as an R&D outpost in 2000, and later added a venture capital team, Honda’s Silicon Valley site is now a full-fledged innovation hub for the company, overseeing a range of important partnerships and startup interactions. Nick Sugimoto explains how it’s set up.

Audio: Shell and Thales execs on setting up innovation outposts, gauging impact

Executives from Shell TechWorks and the Thales xPlor initiative joined Innovation Leader editor Scott Kirsner earlier this year to talk about what they hope to accomplish with the innovation labs they’ve set up in the Boston area, and how they’re being measured. Here’s the audio and slides.

Airbus exec on co-innovation and seizing opportunities outside the airplane

Markus Durstewitz, head of innovation methods and tools for Airbus Group, talks about how the $67 billion manufacturer is working with suppliers, passengers, and pilots to make air travel more efficient. Includes slides…

How Thales Group is chasing growth with new xPlor initiative

Pete Roney, VP of Innovation at Thales USA, the American arm of the $17 billion French aerospace and defense giant Thales Group, says that the rationale for launching a new innovation effort was pretty clear: The company just wasn’t thinking creatively enough to keep up with its peer group.

Powering innovation within Rolls-Royce’s engineering-centric culture

The $20 billion British company employs more than 18,000 engineers, and thinks about new technologies along a twenty-year timespan. Head of Innovation Hardev Ubhi discusses how Rolls-Royce is working to bring new tools and new thinking into an organization that is understandably obsessed with safety, precision, and quality. Includes slides…

Case study: Alaska Airlines’ lean startup test in airport lounges

Two members of the airline’s Customer Innovation R&D team talk about a recent test of new system aimed at delivering a more personalized travel experience. Includes slides and lessons learned…

United exec shares idea scoring system, innovation challenges

Jason Flores of United Airlines shares his RAMP scoring system for employee ideas, and talks about some of the challenges of leveraging technology to make significant changes inside an established organization.

How Heathrow Airport clears emerging technologies for take-off

How do busy organizations build innovation capacity? London’s Heathrow Airport handles 72 million passengers a year, with a plane landing or taking off every 45 seconds. Amidst the need for operational efficiency, safety, and security, Head of IT Strategy and Innovation Richard Harding explains what the innovation team has achieved.

Real-time resource visibility: Why it changes the game

The web has already created the expectation of real-time inventory visibility — if a website can’t show visitors whether what they need is in a retail store or warehouse right now, odds are increasingly low they’re going to pick up the phone to find out. The new expectation, illustrated by the transportation app Uber, is real-time resource visibility. Here’s where that leads.