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Nicole Hall

Senior Communications Specialist

T: 619.400.2859
M: 858.531.2863

After hours and weekends please email or call the Airport Communications Center at 858.531.2863


Airport Innovation Labs’ Fourth Group Tests Unique Concepts

Four companies engaged in 16-week program

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

SAN DIEGO – June 30, 2020 – Airport-oriented solutions ranging from a smart waste bin to reusable to-go containers will have the opportunity to try out the concept at San Diego International Airport (SAN) in the Airport Innovation Lab. The fourth group of innovators welcomed into the Lab’s 16-week program is comprised of four companies largely focused on reducing waste and enhancing the passenger experience.

The companies have been participating in a full-virtual program since mid-March and will test their solutions at SAN this the summer. The team pivoted to the virtual format due to impacts of COVID-19 and has held virtual workshops, sessions with subject matter experts from the Airport Authority, and enhanced virtual networking to include a zoom background challenge and a “speed meet/greet” session to get better acquainted with their fellow cohort participants.  The virtual format has allowed these small early-stage businesses to be engaged in meaningful work in the midst of a pandemic.  Participants look forward to the weekly sessions as an opportunity to focus on their business and learn as much as they can about the aviation industry.

The Airport Innovation Lab occupies part of the former Commuter Terminal building at SAN and provides an opportunity for companies to test their solutions in a controlled environment before they are reviewed and approved to move into a passenger facing environment. The four companies and their concepts are:

  • SkyLights ( –offers clean and safe-to-use VR headsets that provide an immersive entertainment solution for passengers in-flight and in the airport.
  • ZeroWaste ( – no need to know what materials are trash and what is recycling, this smart waste bin, enabled with auto-sorting robotics, accepts waste and grinds it into small pellets and packages the raw sorted material.
  • Encora ( – provides reusable food and beverage containers that utilize software and QR/RFID chips to assist users in depositing containers in a designated smart collection station for on-site cleaning and future use.
  • Keko, Inc. ( – provides reusable dishware in a smart and safe package with a contactless pick-up experience.
“It is truly impressive to see these companies adapt their work environments during COVID-19 and continue to develop solutions to everyday issues that exist at airports around the country,” said Kimberly J. Becker, Airport Authority President/CEO. “The Innovation Lab is potentially the launching pad for ideas that can enhance airport business and the passenger experience. These solution-driven concepts that work at SAN will add to our ability to deliver a positive experience nonstop.”

SAN sourced solutions in two focus areas.  The first are solutions that can decrease waste volume and increase the reuse of food/beverage containers across the property.  The second is a solution that will enhance the customer experience for passengers traveling through SAN.

The companies work diligently throughout the 16-week program to have the opportunity to win a contract from the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, the airport’s owner and operator, and/or gain entrée 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.

“This is an exceptional batch of innovators and we are already extremely impressed with their perseverance and resilience,” said Rick Belliotti, Director of Customer Experience & Innovation at SAN. “These companies offer ground-breaking ideas, and they are driven by determined founders. We have confidence that these solutions, if successful at SAN, will not only add to our customer experience but will evolve and survive as the travel experience changes.”

The unique Airport Innovation Lab was launched to reduce barriers for innovators to break into the aviation industry. The 3,500-square-foot space in the former Commuter Terminal offers a functional mini-terminal area with ticket counters and a bag claim carousel, all without passenger or security concerns to work around. For more information and to apply, go to

San Diego International Airport (SAN) offers nonstop service to more than 70 destinations in the continental U.S., Europe, Asia, Mexico and Canada. In operation since 1928, the airport celebrated more than 90 years of service to the San Diego region in 2018. The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority has managed the airport since 2003. The Airport Authority plans for and provides air transportation services to the region with safe, effective facilities that exceed customer expectations. For more information, please visit

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