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NEWS Last modified on September 25, 2018

San Diego International Airport's Innovation Lab begins testing new solutions

The first successful applicants have begun testing their ideas in San Diego International Airport's new Airport Innovation Lab.

The first two focus areas are airport parking and easing the airport experience.

Five companies were welcomed into the space last month – Baggage NannyFreedomParkParkConnectTravelCar, and Vark – and each will participate in a 16-week accelerator programme.

The programme 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 the gateway, and potential access into other airports through future opportunities.
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“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,” says Rick Belliotti, the airport's director of innovation and small business bevelopment.

“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."

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.

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“San Diego International Airport is committed to excellent customer service and innovation,” notes president and CEO Kimberly 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 centres and other transportation hubs.

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