© Khunaspix Dreamstime.

Chep, the creators of CanTrack, the solar-powered ULD tracking device, has won the top prize of $10,000 in IATA’s Air Cargo Innovation Awards.

In the closing ceremony at the World Cargo Symposium in Shanghai, three finalists presented their ideas to the delegates, who in a very un-innovative way voted via paper and pens for the winner.

However, the win came amid claims that the process had been flawed and needed to be improved before the next awards.


The two runners-up, humanised technology company Clive, which aims to end industry reliance on Microsoft Excel for allocation management, and CargoClaims, which simplifies the claims process for lost or damaged goods, each received awards of $8,000 to further develop their ideas.

It is the first award of its kind, and was introduced to encourage greater innovation in the often too-traditional field of  air cargo. IATA plans to run the award every two years, to allow innovators time to develop their ideas.

The awards were warmly welcomed by the industry – but IATA suffered some first-year teething problems and needs to refine its processes ahead of the next one, according to those who submitted entries.

Some 25 ideas were submitted for a selection process that some regarded as “messy”.

It was plagued by last-minute deadline changes, lack of information on the final nominees and delays, which some entrants said led to unfair competition. One entrant told The Loadstar he stayed away from the award presentation in “protest” at the flawed process.

IATA itself stayed clear of imposing any influence on the outcome, instead handing over the initial decision to select three finalists to a panel.

Oddly, no one on the jury was in the air cargo industry itself, and the five, (all male) included a lawyer, recruitment specialist and PR manager, who may, it could be argued, be ill-placed to judge how effective and clever an idea for the industry is.

A lack of recognition for the other entrants, whose entries had not been publicised, also could be seen as a barrier to encouraging people to enter in the future, it was said.

There is also perhaps a danger of the process being skewed towards technology alone, which lends itself easily to  innovation. Airports, handlers and others submitted ideas which may have been revolutionary but not relying on technology.

The Loadstar will endeavour to discover all the participants and see what other ideas are lurking in darker parts of the industry.

Comment on this article

You must be logged in to post a comment.
  • Ed Kerwin

    March 15, 2015 at 12:10 am

    Is there an awards process that has no flaws and does not receive criticism? The air cargo industry seems to be suffering from a real or perceived failure to innovate. Shouldn’t we applaud attempts to support and motivate people and companies to challenge the status quo and seek new ways to get the job done better? And regardless of who wins an award, it will be the ones who do a better job of serving the customer that will win the most important prize.

  • Andrew Heath

    March 17, 2015 at 1:41 am

    As a contributor to the innovation award, we believed this award would be an opportunity to present seeding innovation, gain industry feedback, networking opportunities and possible partners.

    While the finalist are deserving, their innovation had already been tested and they were in the implementation phase not innovation phase, so this appeared more of a marketing exercise for larger companies.

    Unfortunately the winner was also a sponsor of the conference, this is not a good look to encourage other companies to enter the innovators awards next time.

    Our suggestion is focus on seeding innovation, invite more people to the conference and create networking opportunities to present idea to industry in a Q&A 10 min pitch.

    This is more likely to achieve the desired outcome of new innovation entering the industry.

    Many thanks

    Andrew Heath
    Medical Connect

    • Alex Lennane

      April 01, 2015 at 10:39 am

      Andrew – thanks for your comments. I’d be delighted if you could contact The Loadstar to let us know about your entry.