SAN DIEGO–The first successful applicants have begun testing their ideas in the Airport Innovation Lab at San Diego International Airport (SAN). The first two focus areas are airport parking and easing the airport experience.
Five companies were welcomed into the space last month: Baggage Nanny, FreedomPark, ParkConnect, TravelCar, and Vark; the companies will participate in a 16-week accelerator program. The program will culminate with a presentation to the Airport Authority, where participants will demonstrate their solutions and what they learned. In addition to gaining airport experience, the companies will have an opportunity to vie for a contract with SAN, and potential access into other airports through future opportunities.
“After repurposing a portion of the decommissioned Commuter Terminal, we sought a third-party operator to help manage the Airport Innovation Lab and fine-tune our processes,” said Rick Belliotti, the Airport Authority’s Director of Innovation and Small Business Development. “We were very lucky to get Detecon Innovation Institute on board, and they helped us cast a wide net for interested applicants.
“Now we are off and running, testing innovations that will improve the airport experience,” he added.
For parking solutions, the concepts are an off-airport valet service and rental car valet by FreedomPark, a parking booking system (including payment and rewards) by ParkConnect, a peer-to-peer car-sharing platform enabling passengers to park and potentially rent their personal vehicles while traveling by TravelCar, and a new valet management solution by Vark. To enhance the passenger experience, one concept is a secure luggage storage and delivery service (for arriving and departing passengers) by Baggage Nanny.
“San Diego International Airport is committed to excellent customer service and innovation,” said Airport Authority President/CEO Kimberly J. Becker. “We started the Airport Innovation Lab to develop solutions at the intersection of these two imperatives. It is very exciting to contemplate new ideas to address existing challenges, as well as the potential for developing radical new concepts.”
The unique Lab was launched to reduce barriers for innovators to break into the aviation industry. Its goals are to enhance the passenger experience, improve operational efficiency, identify non-airline revenue sources and decrease costs for the Airport Authority. The 3,500-square-foot space offers a functional mini-terminal area with ticket counters and a bag claim carousel, all without passenger or security concerns to work around.
In addition to being deployed at San Diego International Airport, successful innovations could be rolled out to other airports and analogous businesses, such as shopping malls, convention centers and other transportation hubs.
Serving a record 22 million passengers in 2017, San Diego International Airport (SAN) offers nonstop services to more than 70 destinations in the continental U.S., Europe, Asia, Mexico and Canada. In operation since 1928, the airport is celebrating 90 years of service to the San Diego region. The airport has been managed by the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority since 2003. The Airport Authority’s mission is to plan for and provide air transportation services to the region with safe, effective facilities