1st Global

Sports Tourism Start-up Competition


Innovation to transform sports tourism

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), in collaboration with Futbol Club Barcelona, presents the 1st UNWTO Sports Tourism Start-up Competition.

Identify challenges and projects, and catalyzing innovations that can transform the Sport & Tourism sector in the near future.


20 selected start-ups will be shortlisted by a panel of international experts and stakeholders from the Sports & Tourism sectors (public and private sector, academia and civil society)

Validate and test

The 5 finalist start-ups will have the opportunity to pitch their idea to a panel of experts, governments, industry leaders and international investors who will attend the Mobile World Congress (MWC) to be held in Barcelona on 25-28 February 2019.

Pitch and connect

The winning company will have the possibility to make its mark on the international stage and increase the impact of its start-up with the help of FC Barcelona experts with a customized mentoring programme and the possibility of participating Barça Innovation HUB.

Accelerate and incubate

The winning company will have the opportunity to design a pilot project with FC Barcelona and implement it with the help of its network.

Implement an international pilot project


How do we evaluate projects?

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 Sports as Inclusive Tourism products.
  2. Supply-side configuration seeking balance between sustainable development and the profitability of the project, maximizing the positive impacts on the community and environment.
  3. Connection with the market and the user experience in all phases of the trip.
  4. New ways to use technology resources in sports and its involvement in developing Smart Cities.

The projects will be evaluated on the following criteria:

Innovation and disruptiveness

We 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

We 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

We are looking for startups in growth or seed stages that have tested their idea and have a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) tested in a real market.

Suitable and committed team

We 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

We 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

We 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

We are looking for startups in which a technological or digital component is embedded in the business model.

Who can apply?


5 phases

23 May 2019

Launch of the competition

10 September 2019

Deadline for applications

15 September 2019

Presentation of 20 pre-selected startups on the online platform

20 September 2019

Selection of 5 finalists and presentation on the online platform

14 October 2019

Announcement of the winning startup


Terms and conditions

It is a global initiative that aims to identify startups with the greatest potential to outline the future and promote sustainable innovation in the sports & tourism sector.

We 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, we 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
  • Innovation and disruptiveness
  • Potential impact and scalability
  • Initially validated or tested business model
  • Partnership Readiness
  • Solutions related with tourism, sports and SDGs
  • Suitable and committed team
  • Sustainability in the value proposition
  • Technological or digital component

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.

Barça Innovation Hub is a worldwide center for sports knowledge and innovation that counts with the participation of professionals and world leaders who work to create and share new technologies, processes and experiences that may add value not just to sports but to different sectors promoting an ecosystem around the world of sports endorsed by sports organizations, investigation centers, universities, entrepreneurs and start-ups.


Send us your project

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