Celebrating World Innovation Creativity Day (with this contest!)


Every year on April 21st, the United Nations celebrates World Creativity and Innovation Day. It is a day where we can raise awareness on the role of creativity and innovation in human development. Innovation is essential for harnessing economic potential and it drives momentum towards achieving the UN Sustainble Goals (SDGs). At ICAO, we recognize the many ways innovation benefits civil aviation and how it enables global prosperity and interconnectivity, bringing businesses and people together.

Innovation involves the introduction of new things, ideas, concepts, or ways of doing something that are ahead of current thinking. ICAO’s work in this area includes identifying, developing and deploying, in coordination with States, regulators and/or industry partners, more efficient and effective and/or innovative solutions that enhance ICAO Strategic Objectives, consistent with the Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago Convention).

The pace of innovation coupled with an exponential increase in the diversity and the sheer number of innovators requires us to coordinate and, if necessary, to evolve our approaches, consistent with the provisions of the Chicago Convention, to facilitate and enable innovation in aviation at a global scale in a timely manner.

Without ensuring the approach to innovation evolves, there is a risk of a disconnect between the technologies and processes under development, and the awareness of ICAO and experts from States and aviation stakeholders. This could lead to lags in the development of international Policies, Standards and Recommended Practices, and guidance material.

With the expected growth of international civil aviation, innovation is essential to achieving ICAO’s environmental goals and the UN SDGs so we closely follow research and development initiatives that support these objectives. New innovative technologies and energy sources for aviation are under development at a fast pace, and a significant amount of work by ICAO will be required to keep pace with the timely environmental certification of such new technologies.

How do we do this? 

We raise awareness among States, industry partners and the aviation community and encourage and support the timely deployment of innovative technologies, processes and capacity-building activities based on operational needs.

In looking forward, we provide a work in the aviation industry to Provide a framework that allows the industry to engage with ICAO at the appropriate level, enabling ICAO to develop well-informed policies and carry out innovative implementation support initiatives. We also, with the support of States and the industry, stimulate and engage academia in the development of innovative studies and projects.

In 2022 ICAO launched an innovation competition that is open to university students enrolled in a final year of a Bachelor’s programme or in a Master’s programme. The competition is designed to spark innovative ideas and concepts for new solutions or services supporting the five ICAO Strategic Objectives.

​The winning team will be announced during the Innovation Award Ceremony during the ICAO’s 2024 Innovation Fair and on ICAO’s website and social media accounts. Not only will they be given the opportunity to receive their award virtually or in person, but Airbus will offer an internship to the winning team (maximum of 5 individuals per team) within its organization, such as Airbus UpNext.

Participants will have until 30 September 2023 to prepare and submit their proposals here.

Problem Statement

In recent decades, international civil aviation has overcome important challenges and demonstrated its ability to withstand major shocks and disruptions. This was made possible thanks to the commitment of aviation professionals across the globe, who have developed and implemented processes and technical solutions to enhance the resilience of the sector.

In the context of an ever-growing traffic forecast, the intrinsic capacity of the aviation system is stretched, making any disruption to operations a system-wide challenge. All measures to build and strengthen resilience in aviation have to further support the ICAO Strategic Objectives of Safety, Air Navigation Capacity and Efficiency, Security & Facilitation, Economic Development of Air Transport and Environmental Protection.

In addition, the magnitude, duration, and global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly affected air transport operations and the future of such operations, putting people at the center of the response, travellers and aviation professionals alike. A global consensus has emerged on the pivotal role of aviation workers in finding and implementing solutions for the conduct of aviation operations, at all levels and across the aviation value chain.

With this in mind, the resilient future of international civil aviation cannot materialize without a workforce aware of the challenges faced by the sector and ready to commit to imagining the aviation it wants. By resilience, we mean the ability of the sector to ensure the continuity of air mobility while progressing the five ICAO Strategic Objectives and contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As part of this global competition, we invite students to propose innovative solutions with the aim:

  • ​to create a more resilient aviation ecosystem for 2050;
  • to contribute to the emergence of innovative concepts, tools and approaches for new solutions or services supporting some or all of the five ICAO Strategic Objectives, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and in particular SDG 9 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure: “Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation”;
  • ​to share their expectations and visions for the future, focussing on the emergence of disruptive ideas for the benefits of the overall aviation community. ​

The jury of this competition will feature:

  • Mr. Salvatore Sciacchitano, President of the ICAO Council;
  • Mr. Juan Carlos Salazar, Secretary General of the International Civil Aviation Organization;
  • Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary General of the UN World Tourism Organization;
  • Mr. Simon Hocquard, Director General of the Civil Air Navigation Services Organization (CANSO);
  • Ms. Angela Albritton, Representative of ALICANTO;
  • Mr. Luis Felipe de Oliveira, Director General of Airports Council International (ACI);
  • A Representative from the International Coordinating Council of Aerospace Industries Associations (ICCAIA);

Competition dates and deadlines

A live Q&A session was held to clarify questions and concerns. Participants around the globe will have until 30 September 2023 to prepare and submit their proposals before the competition is officially closed. The Innovation Award Ceremony will be held during the next Innovation Fair that will be held during Q1 2024.

Participants around the globe have until 30 September 2023 to prepare and submit their proposals before the competition is officially closed. Take advantage of the one-hour Q&A live session to clarify any questions or concerns you might have (make sure to register!). For more information on how to apply for the competition, as well as the eligibility criteria and guidelines, click here.