‘The Lions’ (roar) ahead with tourism plans

Video: Beaz Bizkaia (YouTube)

The World Tourism Organization (WTO) along with Athletic Club or Athletic Bilbao and the Provincial Council of Bizkaia (in Basque Country – an autonomous community of Spain) has joined hands to launch ‘Smart Solutions for Smart Destinations’ competition in a bid to launch novel methods for the promotion of entrepreneurship in tourism.

Madrid (Spain)-headquartered the World Tourism Organization is the United Nations specialized agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism.

The Government of the Historical Territory of Bizkaia is the Provincial Council, one of the main institutions of the Basque Autonomous Community. It carries out a wide range of functions such as tax collection, urban planning, roads and public works, environment, cultural heritage or social welfare.

Innovative and intelligent solutions are being sought to enable San Mamés Stadium to act as ‘the change factor’ in the tourist model. The stadia act as central nodes and connectors for the resources of the region and its environment.

Stadiums should act as the pivotal point and offer enchanting experiences which tourists of the future will demand. Security, inclusion and sustainability will be the key elements to boost tourism, and cutting-edge technology and connectivity will be the pillars to lean on.

San Mamés is an all-seater football stadium in Rafael Moreno Pitxitxi Kalea, Bilbao, Basque Country, Spain. The facility opened on September 16, 2013, and the stadium replaced the ‘old’ San Mamés as the home of Spanish professional football club Athletic Bilbao. With a capacity of 53,289 seats, San Mamés is the eighth largest stadium in Spain and the largest in the Basque Country.

Competition announced on July 27th, 2020

The above mentioned organizations are on the lookout for startups that can provide innovative and intelligent solutions that will go on to give an exultant experience to visitors in stadiums or other events. Apart from this, it must facilitate the entire tourist experience included in its entire process: before, during and after they are through with their experience of stadium visits or other events. Boost in tourist inflow will be termed as a positive development.

Competition categories:

  • Projects in pre-seed phase (in development phase of the prototype of the proposed solution or only conceptual design); and
  • Projects with a minimum viable product, with a market pilot run conducted.



  • The 20 shortlisted startups will get the opportunity to examine their respective proposals with a panel of experts representing agents from the tourism, sports and public administration sectors;
  • The 10 startups that will be zeroed in will get the opportunity to present their ideas to a panel of evaluators at an event to be held at the San Mamés Stadium;
  • Winning companies will be provided the opportunity to develop a pilot project in concert with the Athletic Club for six months; and
  • If the winning companies are from Bizkaia, or decide to change their tax address to Bizkaia, they will get access to growth and acceleration services from the Provincial Council of Bizkaia, advice for the financing of their projects and space in coworking facilities for six months.


Valuation criteria:

  • Potential for supply improvement;
  • Potential business impact;
  • Product or technology maturity;
  • Maturity of the team and the organization;
  • Collaboration experience; and
  • Sustainability.


Priority areas of specialization:

  • Events – Optimize and maximize the potential of events for giving a shot in the arm to tourism;
  • Sports and tourism – How sports can act as a trigger to restore the flow of tourists and visitors to a City after a global health cataclysm;
  • Facilities – Smart facilities as event connectors in cities and regions. Soccer stadiums playing a key role for sustainable regional growth of tourism;
  • Futuristic technologies – Take advantage of the impact of cutting-edge technologies in smart destinations, and in the definition of new business models for the tourism industry;
  • Connections – Solutions that attract more and more tourists to the territory’s leisure, cultural and sports offers; and
  • Sustainability, inclusion and security – Solutions that promote the tourist experience with a higher level of security and inclusion for the tourist, under the criteria of environmental responsibility.




It is a five-phase development:

  • The competition announcement was made on July 27, 2020;
  • The date for receiving completed applications is October 15, 2020;
  • On October 30, 2020, presentation of 20 preselected startups on the online platform;
  • Selection of 10 finalists and presentation on the online platform date – November 5, 2020; and
  • On November 16, 2020, announcement will be made as regards the two winning start-ups at an event to be held at the San Mamés Stadium in Bizkaia.

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