> San Diego Airport

The Airport Innovation Lab™

In late 2016, the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority (SDCRAA) repurposed part of its former Commuter Terminal into a space where innovators could conceive, develop and test emerging technologies and business concepts that have the potential to transform the airport experience for future passengers. This space is called the Airport Innovation Lab™.

This high-tech testing ground currently features a 3,500-square-foot workspace with a model ticket counter, gate and baggage belt that collectively represents a de facto “mini-terminal,” three conference rooms, and a co-working space to draft their test set-up, create and refine their prototype, run tests in a controlled environment and collect feedback on their solutions from airport staff.

The Airport Innovation Lab™ is not only a testing ground but it helps reduce barriers for innovators to break into the aviation industry. Successful ideas can be implemented at the San Diego International Airport (SAN) as well as other airports, and related industries such as malls, hotels, and convention centers.


Each year, the SDCRAA releases two “Opportunity Statements”: one statement has a specific focus area and changes each cycle, and, the second statement seeks solutions that will increase revenue, enhance the passenger experience, improve operational efficiency and/or decrease costs.

Concepts must be unique and innovative, scalable to other airports and identify an opportunity – or an airport ‘problem’ that needs to be solved. Successful applicants submit concepts and a prototype that may be tested in the airport environment.

Selected candidates participate in a 16-week program in the Airport Innovation Lab™. During the 16 weeks they test and vet their ideas and present their findings to a panel of Airport Authority staff members for an opportunity to negotiate a contract at SAN.

"Airport is finding new ways to continue its role as an industry innovator. We are very excited to see the Innovation Lab move towards developing real-world solutions to address existing challenges, as well as develop radical new concepts.”

- Kimberly J. Becker, Airport Authority President/CEO


  • Access and potential to monetize idea in the lucrative airport market (over $10B in yearly operational spending)
  • Opportunity to compete for a contract with San Diego County Regional Airport Authority
  • Ability to test product or service in an airport environment and get feedback from airport executives and passengers
  • Share product/service with members of the aviation industry, local/regional community, start-up community, airport/airlines executives, investors and other stakeholders
  • Weekly workshops with airport subject matter experts, sessions to help companies build a sustainable business and 1:1 mentor sessions
  • Coaching and insight on government procurement process
  • Office space and mentorship

“We were born as a business in San Diego based on the confidence and support of the San Diego International Airport Innovation Lab™ and now, with the support of TRITON FUNDS, we elevate our commitment to our fellow San Diegans as they travel through San Diego Airport.”

- P.J. Mastracchio - AtYourGate CEO

Innovators who have successfully tested their prototype concepts in the Innovation Lab:

AtYourGate is a mobile app to order, purchase and provide delivery of food, beverage and retail purchases at the San Diego International Airport. This in-airport order and delivery app for passengers, flight crew and airport employees provides a new option to provide more food, beverage and concession options. Food is brought to you in the airport.

Ciari Guitars is an in-airport guitar kiosk where consumers can relax pre or post flight by experiencing a Ciari Guitar in a comfortable setting that includes seating and one or more guitar play stations.

Vark is a cloud based valet management platform designed to reduce admin time, operation costs and revenue leakage for the operator. Vark offers a stress free valet experience for the customer.

FreedomPark is valet services which provide a fast, friendly no-wait valet parking experience, saving you time and ensuring your vehicle is safe.

Baggage Nanny is a service of secure luggage storage and delivery (for arriving and departing passengers).

Nuvve is a 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.

TravelCar is a peer-to-peer car-sharing platform enabling passengers to park and potentially rent their personal vehicles while traveling.

Nüdel Kart is a deconstructable mobile cart that can be reconfigured by children in different ways. Its mission is to engage children in playful learning in an airport setting or location where inspiration to explore and learn are limited.

NXT Robotics is an autonomous cognitive robotic devices for enhanced security and safety in a dedicated perimeter.

Lorenzo Designs is a flexible, programmable, illuminated LED stanchion belt that can direct traffic and improve way-finding in busy customer environments.

San Diego Airport

San Diego County Regional Airport Authority ,3225 North Harbor Drive
San Diego, California 92101

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