UNWTO STARTUP COMPETITION FOR ISLAND DESTINATIONS
The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), and the Institución Ferial de Canarias (INFECAR), are joining forces in this startup competition to source the most sustainable, innovative and disruptive business models to provide answers and smart solutions to the complex challenges island destinations are facing with especially after the aftermath of the pandemic.
Tourism is livelihoods of islands. It has become the main economic activity for many islands around the world, creating much needed job opportunities and bringing in important income and foreign exchange earnings. Their special geographical situation and their immense natural and cultural richness makes islands unique for visitors, but at the same time, confronts them with a number of challenges and vulnerabilities exacerbated also by the devasting effects and impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, investing in sustainable tourism in islands is the only path to ensure that the sector continues to advance socio-economic welfare while protecting their fragile ecosystems.
This competition will source entrepreneurs and stakeholders from across the globe that can offer innovative and smart solutions for island destinations in a more sustainable way. The call will identify and support those that contribute to the post-pandemic recovery and resilience of the tourism ecosystem of island destinations through the development of innovative and smart tourism solutions and products.
Selected Finalists will be invited to pitch their solutions In Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain on 16 March 2023. The Canary Islands are characterised by rich cultural and natural heritage, unique biodiversity (40% of the region is a protected area) fantastic climate all-year-around, traditional cuisine and vibrant cities, which make the islands a touristic hotspot and a leading tourism destination receiving millions of tourists every year.
Category 1: Deep Tech: New technologies applied to sustainability: We live in an increasingly connected and interdependent world with digital advances transforming how we inform ourselves, transforming our behaviour, and encouraging innovation. Technology helps us to manage our social, cultural and environmental impacts better. Moreover, if well managed, tourism can act as an agent of positive change for more sustainable lifestyles, destinations, and consumption and production patterns. The unprecedented disruption of the sector caused by the COVID-19 pandemic requires that new technologies, digital tools and capacities are developed to accelerate the sustainability shift. Sustainability must no longer be a niche part of tourism but must be the new norm for every part of our sector and this is especially relevant for island destinations. Island destinations need to transform tourism that emerging from COVID-19 by embracing and supporting the development of new technologies and digital tools for their very specific needs. We are looking for innovative startups who could assist island destinations to achieve and accelerate this shift, by using and developing new technologies and digital tools applied to sustainability within a specific island context.
Category 2: Innovation & Digitalization for Island Destinations: Rebuilding tourism is an opportunity for transformation with a focus on leveraging its impact on island destinations and building more resilient communities and businesses through innovation, digitalization, sustainability, and partnerships. We are looking for startups developing smart solutions that harnessing innovation and digital technologies that provide tourism with opportunities to strengthen resilience, improve inclusiveness, local community empowerment and efficient resource management, amongst other objectives within the wider sustainable development agenda and specifically designed for island destinations.
12 January 2023
Launch of the competition
Deadline of the applications
3 March 2023
Announcement of finalists
15 March 2023
Acceleration and Mentorships by experts in the field
Tourism Tech Adventures Canarias Pitch of the finalists
The purpose of the competition is to capture particularly the attention of startups and entrepreneurs from across the tourism value chain to facilitate the offering of innovative and smart solutions related the complex challenges the tourism sector of island destinations are facing with.
Startups are invited to participate if meeting the following criteria
- Are innovative/disruptive in nature and provide value-added and sustainable solutions for the tourism sector of island destinations
- Harnessing the impact of new technologies especially within the context of blue and green economies,
- Offer alternative and complementary business models to harness the economic impact of tourism in island destinations,
- Be scalable: to have potential for international growth and potential to be applied in island destinations,
- Be an Early Stage or Series A startups
- Have a minimum viable product or an idea that is ready to be developed and funded,
- Have a tested pilot and business plan
- Have a full-time team
- Emphasize the promotion of digitalization, innovation in environmental preservation and impact on local communities,
- All ways of innovation are welcome: new methods, processes, governance models, social impact initiatives, and technologies.
- Opportunity to Pitch your solution at the UNWTO Tourism Tech Adventures in Gran Canaria, Spain on 15-16 March 2023
- Mentorships by UNWTO and top partners
- Tailored support for your startup
- Become a member of the UNWTO Innovation Network
- Scholarship opportunities for the Tourism Online Academy
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
The Trade Fair Institution of the Canary Islands (INFECAR) is a meeting point for economic and promotion activities.
INFECAR is located in the city centre of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and it is extremely well-connected with the rest of the island. It also offers its clients a unique track record of experience as leaders in event organisation in the Canary Islands.
It is an active member of the Spanish Association of Trade Fairs (AFE), the Spanish Association of Conference Centres (APCE), the Gran Canaria Convention Bureau, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry (UFI), and the International Association of American Trade Fairs (AFIDA).
This emblematic venue offers pavilions, a conference centre with multi-purpose rooms, two large parking areas and landscaped gardens.
This combination of infrastructure and services enables professionals from all walks of life and parts of the world to make the most of this exceptional event venue for the organisation of trade fairs, conferences, work meetings or exhibitions in Las Palmas. Gran Canaria is a permanent bridge between Europe, America and Africa and has a consolidated reputation in the field of event organisation, thanks to its unbeatable climate, infrastructures and hotels, as well as the wide range of economic, social and cultural possibilities on offer.