“What is research but a blind date with knowledge?”Will Harvey, American software developer and entrepreneur

At its core, research and development (R&D) is the generation of new knowledge. The term encompasses activities by which companies, governments or other institutions develop new products and services or refine exiting ones.

The quotes above illustrate the duality of the process: It can deliver great results, generate new knowledge – but the path to get there is not always clear at the start of the journey. Nevertheless, many businesses make increasing investments in research & development. And it’s not hard to see why: In today’s fast-paced environment, new knowledge is essential for companies to remain competitive and make profit. Despite being capital-intensive, R&D can drive innovation, help improve marketplace position, and increase long-term customer satisfaction.

Surveying 2,500 companies that invested the largest sums in R&D worldwide in 2020, the EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard found that despite the Covid-19 pandemic, global investment in research and development continued to increase significantly in 2020 for the eleventh consecutive year. According to UNESCO, global spending on R&D has reached a record high of almost USD 1.7 trillion in 2021.

When it comes to investment by industry, according to the EU’s Scoreboard, four major sectors account for 77.4% of global R&D: Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) producers (22.9%), Health industries (20.8%), ICT services (18.6%) and Automotive (15.2%). Despite travel being close to the bottom when it comes to overall industry R&D spending, there are many forward-thinking players that invest significantly in moving the industry forward. For instance, the Lufthansa Innovation Hub (LIH) is the digitalization spearhead of the Lufthansa Group and connects the world’s largest aviation group with relevant players in the global travel and mobility tech ecosystem. And in 2022, Marriott International launched the Marriott Design Lab to accelerate the development and deployment of new technologies and products.

Sabre has always been at the forefront of research and development in travel, first and foremost through Sabre Labs, the world’s first travel-focused innovation lab. Founded in 1996, Sabre Labs explores novel uses of big data, machine learning, AI and other emerging technologies to shape the future of travel. The group mission is to create and maintain a robust innovation pipeline of disruptive ideas, generate business value, and position Sabre as technology leader.​​ Collaborating closely with the teams in product development and technology operations, Sabre Labs focuses on projects that involve data and analytics (including applications of machine learning and artificial intelligence techniques), operations research and software engineering (across the entire software development lifecycle from ideation, to prototyping and co-creating proofs of concepts with Sabre customers).

Many Sabre products and solutions available today originated from Labs, including TripCase and Sabre APIs or, more recently, Sabre Travel AITM, which combines the software and technology expertise of Sabre with the artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities of Google Cloud. In addition to these product-focused inventions, Sabre Labs has also been instrumental in modernizing product development and engineering practices as well as facilitating the company’s ongoing tech transformation, including the move to the cloud.

  • [1] https://iri.jrc.ec.europa.eu/scoreboard/2021-eu-industrial-rd-investment-scoreboard
  • [2] uis.unesco.org/apps/visualisations/research-and-development-spending/
  • [3] https://lh-innovationhub.de/ [1] https://skift.com/2022/01/07/marriott-gives-a-peek-into-its-new-rd-lab-for-post-pandemic-travel/