San Diego International forges ahead with innovation scheme

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The Airport Innovation Lab at San Diego International Airport (SAN) has announced that it is recruiting applicants for its fifth group of innovators.

The unique Lab was launched by the airport in an effort to reduce barriers preventing innovators breaking into the aviation industry. The 3,500ft space in the airport’s former Commuter Terminal offers a functional mini-terminal area with ticket counters and a baggage claim carousel, all without passenger or security concerns to work around. Successful applicant companies will go through a 16-week accelerator program with a focus on health and safety.

“Covid-19 taught us a lot about the need to create a safe environment for all that move through SAN,” explained Kimberly J Becker, airport authority president and CEO. “Our airport had to pivot and address the changing needs as county health and safety measures continued to be imposed on all businesses and public entities. We are looking for innovative ideas that can help shape the travel experience of the future as we continue to adapt our systems and procedures at SAN to reduce the spread of the virus.”

The group will be tasked with proposing solutions in one of two opportunity areas: touchless solutions or queue management solutions. At the end of the program, successful innovators have the potential to win a contract from the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, the airport’s owner and operator, and/or gain access to other airports and analogous businesses including other transportation hubs, convention centers, shopping malls and other large venues such as ballparks, theme parks and hotels.

One of the first companies to participate in the Airport Innovation Lab, @YourGate, launched their in-airport meal delivery concept at SAN. Today they are operating at SAN as well as other airports across the county.

Innovators for the fifth group will start the program in a virtual format until Covid-19 restrictions are eased. Potential applicants have until October 4, 2020, to apply to the program which starts in November 2020 and will continue through March 2021. Ideal applicants will have an existing prototype that can be tested in a real-life airport environment, and ideas that are new to US airports or an extension of an existing service or product to be tested at SAN.

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