Airliner takes off from San Diego
A passenger jet takes off from San Diego International Airport. Photo by Chris Stone

The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority announced Thursday that it is seeking applicants for its third 16-week accelerator program at San Diego International Airport’s innovation lab, aimed at finding forward-reaching technology.

While the first such program had an area of focus for the five firms chosen and the second had no such mandate, the third program will be a blend of the two, according to the airport authority.

Applicants can choose to develop “wild card” concepts at the Airport Innovation Lab or they can focus on creating an interactive form of entertainment for children.

The selected applicants will work out of the 3,500-square-foot lab that features a miniature terminal area, ticket counters and a baggage claim carousel.

The lab — housed in the airport’s former commuter terminal — offers companies in the program the chance to test their concepts and prototypes in a setting that avoids having to work around passengers or airport security.

“We are really getting our feet under us,” said Rick Belliotti, the Airport Authority’s director of customer experience and innovation. “Experience has provided a better sense of how to recruit, as well as what might work here or at other airports, or even non-airport venues.”

The innovation lab launched in September with five companies concentrating on improvements to the airport’s parking and travel logistics.

The airport welcomed the second group of companies in April. All members of the program have an  opportunity to win a contract from the airport authority or its partnered companies and businesses at the end of the 16-week program.

“The continuing successes of the Airport Innovation Lab have the promise of enhancing the airport experience for everyone,” Airport Authority President and CEO Kimberly Becker said. “For those innovations that can work at SAN, we anticipate they will create good feelings for our customers and provide the high level of customer satisfaction for which we are known.”

Companies can apply to the program through July 5 and will start at the lab in August if selected. Applicants are advised to have a working prototype that could show off their concept and to think about concepts that would be new to the U.S. airport industry.

Companies interested in applying to the accelerator program can do so at innovate.san.org.

–City News Service