Plug and Play Partners with UN Tourism for Artificial Intelligence Global Startup Competition

SUNNYVALE, Calif., June 12, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Plug and Play has announced the second call for applications in partnership with UN Tourism. The UN Tourism Artificial Intelligence Global Startup Competition is the second call of application in a series of three startup competitions aimed at making the tourism sector more sustainable. The competition launched today at Plug and Play’s Silicon Valley Summit.

This global initiative aims to drive progress in the tourism sector towards the Sustainable Development Goals by harnessing the potential of cutting-edge technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Augmented and Virtual Reality. 

Accelerating SDGs through Innovation and Technology

The UN Tourism Artificial Intelligence Global Startup Competition highlights the transformative potential of innovative solutions, propelling the tourism sector towards recovery while empowering it to play a pivotal role in achieving the global goals outlined in Agenda 2030. This initiative invites startups worldwide to lead change in tourism towards a sustainable, inclusive future aligned with global aspirations for a better world.

UN Tourism Executive Director, Natalia Bayona, says: “We stand at the dawn of a new era in tourism, where innovation is key. We can’t forget that the global smart tourism market is projected to reach 126.889 billion dollars by 2033, growing 16% since 2023 and 2.2% of global venture capital is flowing into tourism and technology startups. This new era in tourism is being shaped and guided by the transformative power of Artificial Intelligence. The future of tourism is here, and it is intelligent, efficient, and sustainable”.

Benefits for Participants

The competition invites early-stage and series A startups to apply before July 31. Benefits for participants accepted include:

  • Accommodation and travel to pitch at the UN Tourism Tech Adventures
  • Two-month acceleration program at SPARK – the Innovation Sphere of Les Roches, held across both campuses in Marbella and Crans-Montana
  • Membership of the UN Tourism Innovation Network
  • Integration into the Plug and Play Ecosystem and participation in the yearly Summit
  • Access to curated mentorship programs
  • Scholarships from the UN Tourism Academy
  • Potential pilot project collaborations with private sector partners and institution
  • Participation in the Program for Ambassadors of the Spanish Language Award powered by Fundación Carolina
  • Opportunities for pilot project collaborations with private sector partners and institutions
  • Access to 90+ Venture Capitalists

Selection and Evaluation Criteria

The competition is open to startups worldwide, spanning various industries and emphasizing innovation, sustainability, and scalable business models with potential for international growth. Participating startups will be assessed based on their contribution to the selected SDGs, ease of value capture through collaboration, potential business impact, maturity of the product and technology, team and organizational structure, and partnership readiness.

Plug and Play’s Role in Sourcing and Scouting Startups

Plug and Play’s role in the competition involves sourcing and scouting startups for initiatives like the UN Tourism Artificial Intelligence Global Startup Competition, aimed at supporting the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals through technology. As a global innovation platform connecting startups, corporations, and investors, Plug and Play is committed to driving technological advancements and innovation across 25+ industries. This initiative seeks to cultivate a collaborative ecosystem for sustainable and inclusive innovation worldwide.

All interested potential participants can apply to the call for applications on the following page:

About Plug and Play
Plug and Play is the leading innovation platform, connecting startups, corporations, venture capital firms, universities, and government agencies. Headquartered in Silicon Valley, we’re present in 60+ locations across 5 continents. We offer corporate innovation programs and help our corporate partners in every stage of their innovation journey, from education to execution. We also organize startup acceleration programs and have built an in-house VC to drive innovation across multiple industries where we’ve invested in hundreds of successful companies including Dropbox, Guardant Health, Honey, Lending Club, N26, PayPal, and Rappi. For more information, visit

Plug and Play Contact:

About UN Tourism
The World Tourism Organization (UN Tourism), a United Nations specialized agency, is the leading international organization with a decisive and central role in promoting the development of responsible, sustainable, and universally accessible tourism. It serves as a global forum for tourism policy issues and a practical source of tourism know-how. Its membership includes 160 countries, 6 territories, 2 permanent observers, and over 500 Affiliate Members.

UN Tourism Contacts:
Rosalia Galan – Communications Expert
IEI – Un Tourism Regional Office Middle East | +966 555908142

Lara Kabbara – Administrative Associate
IEI – Un Tourism Regional Office Middle East | +966 508887969

Miriam Rubio
IEI Senior Specialist Innovation, Education and Investments +34 687964076

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