Les Roches supports the incubation of startups rewarded by the World Tourism Organization — Photo by Les Roches

Les Roches, Crans-Montana, Switzerland - Les Roches in Crans-Montana and Spark, its innovation center dedicated to the hospitality industry is abuzz this Thursday with the presentation to investors of the winning startups in the second edition of the Awake Tourism Challenge, an international competition organized by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the United Nations' specialized agency.

The event took place in the presence of the UNWTO's Investment Director and was attended by around 100 participants including stakeholders in private equity, international investment funds, consulting firms, Spark's technology partners, as well as several representatives of the Swiss authorities.

The pitch day is the culmination of the incubation program with Spark for the winning startups of the Awake Tourism Challenge, as part of a collaboration agreement signed last year between Les Roches and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). This partnership is inseparable from the person of Carlos Díez de la Lastra, CEO Les Roches, who has placed hospitality and tourism training among the educational elite by acquiring a leading position for his academy.

Nominated in 2023 as one of the 150 most influential personalities in Spain’s tourism industry, Carlos Díez de la Lastra said: I wish all the very best for these youthful entrepreneurs’ projects. The history of our institution is based on entrepreneurship and innovation. Personal qualities expected of all future leaders, who also require in-depth knowledge and methods that have always been core to our teaching programs.

From May 3 to 30, the Les Roches campus is hosting 10 of the 15 winning projects of the young entrepreneurs taking part in the global challenge, chosen among 2,000 applications from more than 120 countries around the world in six thematic categories: Local community involvement; Green and blue economies; Ecological and Sustainable Capital Creation; Tourism Tech for Good; and finally, Women’s Empowerment.

Among the projects highlighted today are: Noytrall (Portugal) – an interface for tracking travelers’ carbon footprints and related expenses; the NomadHer project (South Korea) – an A.I. application for women travelling alone aimed at making individual travel safer and preventing violence; Accessible Qatar (Qatar) – a collaborative platform that provides disabled people with all the information needed to travel around the country; and Quantum Temple (USA) – a Web 3.0 platform that aims to preserve living cultures through local partnerships by creating NFTs, which in return can offer immersive experiences in the tribes or the sale of native art artworks.

An exciting month of May that is all about bringing innovative ideas to life thus transforming a vision into a successful project, summed up Pablo Garcia, Director of Spark in Crans-Montana. The young entrepreneurs learn from experts and receive feedback on their project, and the incubation program mobilizes all of Spark's existing ecosystem, including consulting firm Deloitte for example, as well as the Academic and business experts from Les Roches. Some of the master classes and workshops include topics such as technology, fundraising, marketing development and pricing strategy, legal aspects, financial strategy and performance measurement.

For more information https://www.unwto.org/unwto-awake-tourism-challenge on the UNWTO website.

Spark – About

Les Roches established a global innovation platform in 2020 to support promising hospitality projects, encompassing pre-incubation and incubation solutions for entrepreneurs who bring innovative ideas to the hospitality and tourism sector. Spark enables learners, graduates and allied companies to design and implement new hospitality solutions in living labs on the Crans-Montana and Marbella campuses. Spark offers consulting, research and project support services with advanced technological and digital resources. Today, Spark has 70 private and public partners, 100 projects carried out in collaboration with regional companies, and 50 start-ups in incubation – Spark Innovation Sphere website.

Les Roches

Les Roches is a Swiss institution focused on creating innovative and entrepreneurial minds of tomorrow. Founded in 1954, Les Roches offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees in Hospitality and Tourism Management following the Swiss educational model. With campuses in Switzerland and Spain, and a student body of more than 100 different nationalities, the institution offers its students a unique experience based on cultural diversity. Since 2021, Les Roches has also had an academic partnership with the Indian School of Hospitality (ISH) with a partner campus in Gurugram (Delhi NCR).

Les Roches is among the world's top four higher education institutions in hospitality management (QS World University Rankings, 2023). Part of Sommet Education, a world leader in hospitality education, Les Roches is accredited by the New England Commission on Higher Education (NECHE).

For more information, visit Les Roches.

Anouck Weiss
Chief Communication Officer, Sommet Education
Les Roches

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