UNWTO Startup Competition for Mega Events and MICE Tourism

UNWTO Startup Competition for Mega Events and MICE Tourism

MEGA Events

Digitalization and Disruptiveness for Sustainable Event Management

WINNER: Circular Unity (Portugal) www.circularunity.com

Inclusiveness and Accessibility

WINNER: touch2see (France) www.touch2see.fr

MICE Events

Promotion and Marketing

WINNER: Sentimantle (Israel) www.sentimantle.com
WINNER: Atlaseek (United Arab Emirates) www.atlaseek.com

Technology for attendee engagement and infrastructure

WINNER: Hello xLAB KK (Japan) www.hello-xlab.com

Tourism is one of the leading sectors in international trade, accounting in 2019 for 28% of the world's services exports, representing 1,7 trillion dollars from international tourism, turning it into the fifth largest traded services sector (UNWTO). While many factors influence tourism growth, MICE tourism and mega events can contribute massively to the influx of tourists to a country and destination. With this call, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), is sourcing the most sustainable, innovative, and disruptive entrepreneurs that offer SMART solutions for mega events and mice tourism that benefit visitors, organizers, and local communities in a sustainable way.

Mega events are large-scale events often of a longer duration that attract a significant number of attendees from different parts of the world, related to sporting, cultural, or business, and they usually have a global impact. They can benefit a host destination in terms of attracting visitors, drawing global attention to destinations, and as a consequence increasing international tourist arrivals. In principle, mega events contribute short-term benefits, yet when executed systematically and in a sustainable way, they can be a catalyst for longer-term tourism development in various aspects from economic to social. Although international tourist arrivals and receipts increase significantly for the host country of a mega event, we must take into account possible tourist displacement and the effect of this kind of tourism on the destination. They can present a range of challenges for the country, the host destination, and the stakeholders involved.

Tourism generated by Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions, or MICE Tourism, is a specialized segment of the tourism industry that involves organizing and hosting short-term events and gatherings for business purposes. It is an important sector for many countries and cities, as it can attract significant numbers of high-spending visitors who contribute to the local economy. The tourism industry relies on effective marketing and promotion to attract attendees and exhibitors, as well as on skilled event organizers who can manage the logistics and coordination of large-scale events.

Both tourism activities generate a substantial amount of tourist arrivals but present different challenges.

Present your business and offer an innovative solution to the challenges of mega events and mice tourism!

  1. Digitalization and Disruptiveness for Sustainable Event Management: Mega events can have significant environmental impacts, such as increased energy and water consumption, waste generation, and greenhouse gas emissions. Disruptive ideas that contribute to sustainable event management practices can help to minimize these impacts by reducing waste, conserving resources, and promoting renewable energy. Digital technologies can be used to enhance the attendee experience and improve mega events, as well as serves as a tool for sustainability for both the infrastructure and the services.
    Key challenges waste reduction, conserving resources, renewable energy, enhancing attendee experience, and emerging technologies.
  2. Inclusiveness and Accessibility: Mega events can often be exclusive and not accessible to everyone. Inclusive event design aims to create events that are accessible and welcoming to all attendees, regardless of their abilities or backgrounds. In addition, they have an impact on the surrounding communities, both positive and negative. Engaging with local communities can help to build trust and support for the event, as well as to identify and address any concerns or issues that arise. This can involve partnerships with local businesses, community organizations, and local government.
    Key challenges: fan engagement, promotion of values, accessible infrastructure, involvement and partnership with local communities


  1. Promotion and Marketing: There is significant competition among destinations to attract MICE events. Host destinations must differentiate themselves from other destinations and provide a compelling value proposition to event organizers. These events require effective marketing and promotion to attract attendees and exhibitors. Event organizers and host destinations must develop targeted marketing campaigns that reach the right audience and communicate the event's unique value.
    Key challenges: differentiation and competition of host destinations, targeted marketing, communication, exhibitions, and brand awareness.
  2. Technology for attendee engagement and infrastructure: MICE events must engage attendees and provide a compelling experience that meets their needs and expectations. This includes developing relevant content, providing networking opportunities, and incorporating technology to enhance the attendee experience. In addition, challenges related to venue availability, transportation, accommodation, communication infrastructure, security, and sustainable infrastructure, arise for these types of high-level events.
    Key challenges: security, network opportunities, logistics, registration, communication with attendees, translation, and audiovisual innovation.


31 May 2023
Launch of the challenge
MAYO 27 – JULIO 31 CANDIDATURAS 1 September 2023
Deadline for candidatures

September 2023
Announcement of the finalist startups (online)
September-October 2023
Pitch of the finalists

The purpose of the competition is to capture the attention of many startups, entrepreneurs, and businesses from around the global tourism value chain to facilitate the selection of those most relevant to the challenge we are addressing.

The business must offer an innovative and disruptive solution for one of the challenges of Mega Events and MICE Tourism.

In addition, the competition will require the following requirements to participate: The projects must be aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations and preferably also allow for an introduction or adaptation of digital and technological elements, and focused on one (or several) of the following areas:

  • Be innovative/disruptive in nature providing value-added solutions;
  • Harnessing the impact of new technologies;
  • Alternative and complementary business models to harness the economic impact of tourism in destination(s);
  • Smart and innovative solutions for sustainable experiences;
  • Entrepreneur/promoter team: Suitability of the promoter team, motivation, and interest;
  • Startup in Seed Stage or Early Stage (have a minimum viable product or an idea that is ready to be developed);
  • Emphasize the promotion of gender equity (and female empowerment), digitalization, environmental preservation, local communities, and youth leadership;

More information and the Terms of Reference.

  • Opportunity to join UNWTO Innovation Network
  • Opportunity to participate and pitch solution at a Global UNWTO event
  • Potential opportunity to provide a demo of the solution at an upcoming global UNWTO event
  • Visibility on UNWTO global platforms and social media networks
  • Scholarships for UNWTO Tourism Online Academy
  • Access to potential Mentorship programs with international leaders in the field of innovation
  • Networking opportunities with UNWTO and key partners
  • Access to potential seed funding, investments, and partnership opportunities with consultancies, accelerators, and incubators within the UNWTO Network

With the Participation of:


Ecosystem Collaborators



Joint Meetings Industry Council

About Innovation at UNWTO:

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) believes that innovation is the key to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. To drive the digitalization of tourism, create an Innovation and Entrepreneurship Ecosystem that will maximize the potential of the sector in terms of economic growth, job creation, and sustainable development, and anticipate, address and overcome the new challenges and trends of the tourism sector, in 2018 UNWTO developed a framework for Innovation, Education, Digital Transformation and Investments.

The IEI Department already launched 23 global, regional, and specific challenges, and 21 Tourism Tech Adventures (Innovation Forums) in 14 countries were held, with an additional 8 online editions. Total funding of 214 + USD million has been gathered for the UNWTO Top Startups