A second batch of innovators have begun a 16-week accelerator program to field test and develop their concepts in a real-world airport environment at San Diego International Airport, California. The program is hosted in the Airport Innovation Lab, located within the decommissioned Commuter Terminal.
The five entrants include AirporTour – testing interactive airport guides with audio tours; Ciari Guitars – offering a guitar kiosk featuring the world’s first and only foldable, travel guitar; HOHM – providing high-tech sleep pods for travelers to rest from 30-minute to four-hour periods; InnoTech Systems – using autonomous robot guides to provide navigation through the airport; and Nuvve Corporation – pioneering vehicle-to-grid applications at airports with excess electric vehicle (battery-stored) energy sold back to the grid.
The unique Lab was launched to reduce barriers for innovators to break into the aviation industry. Its goals are to develop concepts that can enhance the passenger experience, improve operational efficiency, increase revenues and/or decrease costs. The 3,500ft2 space offers a functional mini-terminal area with ticket counters and a bag claim carousel, all without passenger or security concerns to work around. While the first group of innovators in 2018 was specifically focused on airport parking and easing the airport experience, the second group was not asked to focus on one or more specific areas.
“We wanted to try a ‘wild card’ approach this time,” said Rick Belliotti, director of customer experience and innovation, San Diego Airport. “This allows people to show us ideas we might not have thought of otherwise. Future opportunities will generally have more definition, but we also may want to offer wild card opportunities again, depending on how well this plays out.”
After completing the accelerator program, innovators could win a contract at San Diego Airport that could lead to further opportunities at airports and analogous industries such as transportation centers, convention centers, shopping malls, and larger venues such as ball parks, theme parks and hotels. In return for providing the space and the accelerator program, San Diego Airport negotiates a revenue share for a period of 5 to 10 years.
The first highly successful concept, AtYourGate, which delivers food and other retail items to passengers at their gates, is currently in place at San Diego and five other airports.