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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


Second Group of Innovators Begin Accelerator Program at Airport Innovation Lab

Five Successful Applicants Developing Diverse Concepts

Thursday, April 11, 2019

SAN DIEGO – April 11, 2019 – The second group (or batch) of innovators has begun the 16-week accelerator program to “field test” and develop their concepts in a real-world airport environment at San Diego International Airport (SAN). The program is hosted in the Airport Innovation Lab, located within the decommissioned Commuter Terminal. 

The five entrants and their wide-ranging concepts are:

  • AirporTour – testing interactive airport guides with audio tours; and
  • Ciari Guitars, Inc. – offering a guitar kiosk featuring the world’s first and only foldable, travel guitar where travelers can play and/or listen to music while relaxing;
  • HOHM, Inc. – providing high-tech sleep pods for travelers to rest in for 30-minute to four-hour periods in otherwise underutilized space;
  • InnoTech Systems LLC – using autonomous robot guides to provide navigation through the airport and other travel assistance;
  • Nuvve Corporation – pioneering vehicle-to-grid applications at airports with excess electric vehicle (battery-stored) energy sold back to the grid or buildings during peak demand times.

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, SAN’s Director of Customer Experience & Innovation. “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,” he added.

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 3,500-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.

“Our Innovation Lab was founded to develop new services and amenities that truly enhance the airport experience for everyone flying through San Diego,” said Kimberly Becker, SAN’s President/CEO.  “We really feel good about the wide range of ideas this group of innovators is bringing to the Lab, and I look forward to the good feelings their innovations will create for our customers.”

After completing the accelerator program, innovators may have the opportunity to further test concepts at SAN. Ultimately, they could win a contract at SAN and/or gain entrée to other airports and analogous industries such as transportation centers, convention centers, shopping malls, and larges venues such as ball parks, theme parks and hotels. In return for providing the space and the accelerator program, SAN negotiates a revenue share for a period of five 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 and five other airports.


Serving a record 24 million passengers in 2018, San Diego International Airport (SAN) offers nonstop services to 70 destinations in the continental U.S., Europe, Asia, Mexico and Canada. In operation since 1928, the airport is celebrating more than 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 plans for and provides air transportation services to the region with safe, effective facilities that exceed customer expectations.

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