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Gastronomy Tourism Startup Competition


Innovation to transform gastronomy tourism

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), in collaboration with the Basque Culinary Center, presents the First Global Gastronomy Tourism Startup Competition.

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


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)

Validate and test

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.

Pitch and connect

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 programme and by taking part in the business accelerator Culinary Action!. This includes expenses such as accommodation and travel, for up to 5,000 euro.

Accelerate and incubate

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.

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 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

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 an 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?


4 phases

17 October 2018

Launch of the competition

5 March 2019

Deadline for applications

1 April 2019

Selection of 5 finalists and presentation on the online platform

3 May 2019

Announcement of the winning startup


This are the 5 finalists of the First Global Gastronomy Tourism Startup Competition


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 tourism and gastronomy 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
  • Suitable and committed team
  • Partnership Readiness
  • Sustainability in the value proposition:
  • Technological or digital component

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

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.