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World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) 1st Global Gastronomy Tourism Startup Competition 2019 (Fully-funded to Spain)

Deadline: March 5, 2019

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), in collaboration with the Basque Culinary Center, invites
entries for the First Global Gastronomy Tourism Startup Competition. This is a global initiative that aims
to identify startups with the greatest potential to outline the future and promote sustainable innovation
in the tourism and gastronomy sector.

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of
responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism. As the leading international organization in
the field of tourism, UNWTO promotes tourism as a driver of economic growth, inclusive development
and environmental sustainability and offers leadership and support to the sector in advancing knowledge
and tourism policies worldwide.

BCC is a pioneering global academic institution that comprises the Faculty of Gastronomic Sciences attached to Mondragon University and a Center for Innovation and Research. The aim of the BCC is higher education, research, innovation and promotion of gastronomy and food and it is working to promote gastronomy as a lever for socio-economic development through its actions.

Awards and Benefits

  • 20 selected Start-ups will be shortlisted by a panel of international experts and stakeholders from the gastronomy tourism sector (public and private sector, academia, and civil society)
  • The 5 finalist startups will have a sponsored trip to pitch their idea to a panel of experts, governments, industry leaders and international investors who will attend the 5th edition of the World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism be held in Spain on 2-3 May 2019.
  • The winning company will have the opportunity to design a pilot project with the Basque Culinary Center and implement it with the help of its network.
  • The winning company will have the possibility to make its mark on the international stage and increase the impact of its startup with the help of BCC experts with a customized mentoring programme and the possibility of participating in the business accelerator Culinary Action!

Transportation and lodging for two nights in San Sebastián, Spain, for 1 representative per team of the 5 finalist startups in order to attend the World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism.


They are looking for startups with most disruptive ideas focused on solving real needs in the tourism and gastronomy sector with a responsible approach.

In particular, they are targeting startups that are:

  • In the Early Stage or Series A Stage
  • Both for-profit and non-profit
  • Natural or legal persons
  • Startups with a minimum viable product (MVP)
  • Startups with potential for scalability
  • Startups with a sustainable vision


The projects must be aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations
and the introduction or adaptation of digital and technological elements, and focused on one (or several)
of the following areas:

  1. Destination management or private management of solutions/products/services developed around gastronomy as gastronomic tourism products
  2. Supply-side configuration seeking balance between sustainable development and the profitability of the project, maximizing the positive impacts on the community.
  3. Connection with the market and the user experience in all phases of the trip.
  4. The integration of sustainability in the project´s business plan, specifically the conservation of local ingredients and the relationship between culture, heritage, gastronomy, tourism and economic growth.

The projects will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Innovation and disruptiveness: They are looking for startups with a project/product/service proposal that will disrupt the sector by introducing new concepts not yet identified in the gastronomic tourism industry
  • Potential impact and scalability: They are looking for startups with a sound business model that has the potential for scalability in another environment/market/region making it feasible to increase and grow its social, technological and economic impact.
  • Initially validated or tested business model: They are looking for startups in growth or
    seed stages that have tested their idea and have an Minimum Viable Product (MVP) tested in a real market.
  • Suitable and committed team: They are looking for startups that have an entrepreneurial team suited to the needs and characteristics of the project, with high motivation, interest and commitment to its development.
  • Partnership Readiness: They are looking for startups that have experience in the co-development of products/services and interest in accessing collaborations with partners in the sector.
  • Sustainability in the value proposition: They are looking for startups that integrate sustainability into the business model of the project, taking special care of the relationship between culture, heritage, gastronomy, tourism and economic growth.
  • Technological or digital component: They are looking for startups in which a technological or digital component is embedded in the business model.


Click here to apply.

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