Abu Dhabi start-up teams up with Etihad to develop inflight smart tray to reduce food waste

Lightweight product made from recycled cabin waste will allow airline to monitor passenger consumption patterns through an IoT chip

Etihad Airways Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner

Abu Dhabi start-up The Concept has teamed up with Etihad Airways to develop an in-flight smart tray that helps to monitor how much food is consumed by passengers.

The Neos Fly+ concept is expected to reduce food waste on flights.

“With the aim of providing data to reduce an industry-wide food waste problem estimated to be around $3.9 billion per year, the technology will be developed to act as a data collection hub for airlines,” said the company, which is part of technology accelerator Hub71 at the Abu Dhabi Global Market.

The tray, made from recycled cabin waste such as plastic bottles, features an embedded smart chip that will relay live information to a cabin trolley receiver.

The chip will provide data on whether a meal was consumed or not and shed light on what percentage was eaten.

“We look forward to this innovative partnership with Etihad Airways that will enable us to develop Neos Fly+ locally in the UAE and is yet another testimony to how companies in the UAE are aligned together towards creating a sustainable impact globally,” said Yadhushan Mahendran, co-founder of The Concept.

Mr Mahendran set up the company alongside Maria Sobh and Muhammad Rijal in 2017. It has secured $250,000 in investment so far.

Its backers include a private angel investor and Intelak, the UAE’s first aviation-oriented incubator.

The start-up also received funding from the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Centre’s Sheraa incubator programme and Mubadala Investment Company through The ­Gothams-Hub71 Accelerator programme.

The Gothams programme focuses on building the next generation of aerospace and defence start-ups as the UAE looks to take a dominant position in the sector.

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - Yadhushan Mahendran, Chief Executive Officer with the other founding member, Maria Sobh of ÔThe ConceptÕ at Hub 71, on Al Maryah Island. Khushnum Bhandari for The National

The Concept plans to raise a further $1.2 million to support its expansion and develop new products, said Mr Mahendran. The company is also looking to partner with more airlines operating in Europe and other regions to boost growth, he said.

“This research and development partnership reinforces Etihad’s commitment to sustainability and our reputation for innovation,” said Frank Meyer, chief digital officer of the Etihad Aviation Group.

“We look forward to working with The Concept on the development of the Neos Fly+, which could support our efforts to reduce food wastage.”

Hub71 was set up in March 2019 by the Abu Dhabi government, Mubadala Investment Company, the Abu Dhabi Global Market, Microsoft and SoftBank.

It is a flagship initiative of the Dh50bn Ghadan 21 economic stimulus programme.