Startup Europe Awards

Gran Canaria’s Cabildo and Gran Canaria’s Insular Energy Council lead a project to turn their territories into a lab of good practices for the tourism sector

Green Deal Cabildo Gran Canaria


Together with 22 other partners – associations, universities and institutes from 10 European countries – the Cabildo reaffirms its commitment to sustainable tourism and the development of new circular economy opportunities, introducing its ambitious project CirTourLab in the European funding call Green Deal Horizon 2020 programme.  


On the 26th of January, Gran Canaria’s Cabildo submitted a project with systematic circular solutions to the European funding call Green Deal – Horizon 2020 programme. The project covers solutions for the tourism industry, one of the fields that brings more economic benefits to the territory. 1,000 million euro have been allocated to the fight against climate change in the EU funding Green Deal Call – Horizon 2020 programme, and the ambition of the Canary Island’s government is to use them to become an example of innovation, sustainability and digitalization.


The project submitted is part of a strategy to attract investors and talent to improve innovation in the tourism sector on outermost regions. These regions were hardly hit by the health crisis, as shown by an estimated 55% of youth unemployment in the islands and the tourist decline – 23 million tourists came to the islands in 2020, compared to the 69 million tourists in 2019. The Cabildo intends to keep leveraging these European funds, as well as looking forward to other projects and ideas with programmes like LIFE, Interreg, and the economic recovery fund Next Generation.


Gran Canaria’s Insular Energy Council has been the coordinating organism in charge of managing the proposal and its continuity. This environmental, social and economic project is also comprised of associations, institutes and universities from Italy, Bulgary, Germany, Portugal, the United Kingdom, Greece, Romania and the Netherlands. Each of the consortium’s partners is committed to the European Green Deal and the aim of transforming Europe into a sustainable and climate-neutral continent by 2050.


In order to bring CirTourLab to the islands and the pilot tests that would turn the island into a lab of good practices, more than 10 million euro in European funding would be needed. If the European Commission grants this funding, two main aims will be fulfilled: to diminish the external dependence of this outermost region and to turn the territory into a green transition European reference. By the end of the project, it will serve as a model to be replicated in Italy and Bulgary, 25% of greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced, 40% of the water will be saved, and at least 25 jobs will be created for people at risk of social exclusion.


Amongst those disruptive pilot tests are tests about organic waste’ management, sustainable mobility technologies, water treatment, energy efficiency, circular economy job training for people at risk of social exclusion, and others. Thanks to all those ideas, Gran Canaria is sure that their implementation strategies are committed to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, specifically with Goals no. 3 (Good health and well-being); 6 (Clean water and sanitation); 7 (Affordable and clean energy); 8 (Decent work and economic growth); 9 (Industry innovation and infrastructure); 10 (Reduced inequalities); 12 (Responsible consumption and production); 13 (Climate action); and 17 (Partnerships for the goals).


About CirTourLab’s partners


One of the partners, the Finnova Foundation, from Brussels, will boost innovation and lead disruptive ideas from Canarian entrepreneurs with their open innovation tools, StartUp Europe Accelerathon and StartUp Europe Awards (methodology of the European Commission’s DG CONNECT, implemented by the Finnova Foundation since 2016). Finnova Foundation’s CEO, Juan Manuel Revuelta, declared: “We are proud of Gran Canaria’s Cabildo, as well as all the other partners that make this project possible, and their attitude of starting 2021 seizing the opportunity of the available European funds. Spain only used 40% of the allocated funds in the previous 2014-2020 multiannual financial framework”. Finnova Foundation will also be in charge of internationally communicating about the project, the pilot tests and the results.


On the technological side, partners like Las Palmas de Gran Canaria University, with large expertise in tourism, circular economy and social economy, and the Canarian Technological Institute (Instituto Tecnológico Canario), leader of circular systemic implementation solutions with expertise in technical fields such as water, waste management and energy. Those partners are responsible for solution analysis and technology valorization, amongst other activities.


Another partner leading digitalization, Tourism Data Driven Solution, a worldwide expert enterprise for innovation and technology in tourism and the travel industry. They aim to implement a decision-making tool that will ease the information analysis related to circularity from different perspectives.

Last but not least, SGS TECNOS, a leader in certification and regularization, will be in charge of developing a certification scheme in circular economy that can be applied to touristic services.


Startup Europe Awards 

It is a methodology of the European Commission’s DG CONNECT, implemented by the Finnova Foundation since 2016. The SEUAs are an open innovation tool for identifying disruptive start-ups that promotes public-private collaboration and raises awareness of the importance of self-entrepreneurship as a driver of employment. In addition to generating alliances that help to meet the SDGs of the United Nations and the actions of the European Green Deal, thus contributing to the circular economy, the fight against climate change and sustainable tourism.

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Startup Europe Accelerator  

A Finnova initiative, it´s the first Accelerator Programme specially designed to bring European Commission programmes and resources to start-ups and entrepreneurs. Focused on mentoring, lobbying and networking for fostering innovation projects; especially in the areas of ICT solutions, renewable energies, health, water and environment, smart and sustainable cities, creative industries, social inclusivity and tourism.

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Finnova Foundation

European Foundation for the financing of innovation. It is a European foundation based in Brussels and with offices in Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura and Tenerife, whose objectives are to promote public-private cooperation through innovation to address social challenges such as employment, training, entrepreneurship, the United Nations SDGs, the circular economy, etc. Finnova organises the Start-Up Europe Awards, an initiative of the European Commission and the Finnova Foundation, to recognise the best European start-ups in the social field.

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