San Diego Airport Authority signs operator for Innovation Lab

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San Diego County Regional Airport Authority has entered a two-year agreement with Detecon Innovation Institute to take its unique, airport-environment Innovation Lab to the next level of idea creation.

The Institute will refine and manage the Innovation Lab as a third-party operator. Initial focus areas for the Innovation Lab will include environmental solutions such as waste management; blockchain and streamlining transaction activities; and artificial intelligence, from getting people around the airport to managing maintenance.

Rick Belliotti, the Airport Authority’s director – innovation and small business development, said, “We were pleased with the response to our request for proposals. And we are extremely fortunate to have this Institute partner with us to address existing airport challenges and materially contribute to defining the airport of the future.”

“We want innovations that improve the overall airport experience. Our sweet spot will be enhancing customer satisfaction, making the time that travelers spend in the airport environment more enjoyable.”

The Airport Authority established the Innovation Lab in part of the former Commuter Terminal, which was decommissioned in June 2015. The 3,500ft² (325m²) space offers a functional mini-terminal area with ticket and gate counters and baggage claim carousel, without passenger or security concerns to work around.

The goals are to reduce barriers to entry for innovators to break into the aviation industry, and to develop new ways of doing business and enhancing the passenger experience.

The first innovation to come out of the Lab is At Your Gate, a mobile concessions ordering and delivery service. Passengers will be able to shop for food, beverage and retail items without leaving their gate. Their items will then be delivered right to the gate hold area.

Eric Dulkeith, senior executive with Detecon Innovation Institute, commented, “We will identify and recruit innovators through mix-up events, collaboration with venture capital firms and access to an array of startup databases. Once we maximize the number of innovators coming to us, we will evaluate them and incubate the most promising.”

Kimberly J Becker, Airport Authority president and CEO, added, “San Diego International Airport has long been an industry innovator. With the Innovation Lab, we expect to address existing challenges, as well as develop new concepts that will result in a radically different airport experience.

“Our four pillars are enhancing the passenger experience, improving operational efficiency, increasing revenue and decreasing cost. There is no doubt that addressing these basic business principles will result in some tremendously exciting products, services and applications.”

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Kirstie joined the team in early 2017 and brings writing, communications and client experience with her. Now an assistant editor, she produces content for magazines Passenger Terminal World and Postal and Parcel Technology International and their websites. Away from the office, you will find her struggling along the pavements of Surrey as she trains for the Great South Run, blogging on her lifestyle website or searching the internet for photos of sausage dogs.

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