Dubai Tourism Announces 10 Finalists of Futurism Programme 2019

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A six-week, zero-equity accelerator launched to elevate startups and affect real change in the travel and tourism industry.

Dubai Tourism Announces 10 Finalists of Futurism Programme 2019
  • Top 10 start-ups shortlisted from a global list of 155 entries
  • Selected applicants now undergoing a six-week accelerator programme under the mentorship of industry pioneers and partners
  • Winner and runner-up to be announced at GITEX Future Stars in October
  • Partners from diverse sectors extend full support to ensure Programme’s success


Dubai, UAE; 5 September 2019: Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism) has announced the 10 finalists of its international Futurism Programme 2019, a zero-equity accelerator initiative that is being run in collaboration with leading professional services company Accenture (NYSE: ACN) to further boost technology innovation to create transformative tourism experiences and enhance Dubai’s position as a leading hub for start-ups.

The 2019 edition of the programme provided entrepreneurs the opportunity to showcase innovative technology solutions to help drive a variety of Futurism themes, including hyper personalisation; connected travel; digitising operations; first choice destination; conscious travel; and ‘phygital’ experience.

The 3rd edition of the programme generated strong interest, with 155 start-ups worldwide submitting applications before the deadline of 5 August.  From this list of entries, the 10 most innovative concepts were shortlisted for the final round by a special judging panel comprising representatives of the Programme’s partners. The 10 shortlisted start-ups are Stayhopper, Ads-Flight, Stayology, Further Network, Ariadne Maps, Airlines Technology, Omniflow S.A, Chatdesk, Cerebri AI and Xandar Kardian.

The 10 finalists are now undergoing a 6-week accelerator programme featuring boot camp sessions, networking with key industry partners and one-on-one mentorships. During this phase, each of the selected start-ups will receive guidance from Dubai Tourism and its partners on finalising a pilot project and ways in which they could use their innovative solutions across Dubai’s travel and tourism sector. The start-ups will then pitch to a select jury of business owners, investors and venture capitalists at the Dubai Tourism stand at GITEX Future Stars, the largest startup event in Middle East, Africa and South East Asia - part of the GITEX Technology Week - which will be hosted in October.

The winning start-up and runner-up stand to win a prize totalling AED 100,000, as well as licensing, relevant visas in Dubai, office space and the opportunity to secure potential future funding.

Commenting on the selection of 10 finalists, Yousuf Lootah, Executive Director – Tourism Development & Investments, Dubai Tourism said: “The overwhelming response to our Futurism Programme speaks volumes of Dubai’s attractiveness as a regional technology hub and our ongoing efforts to drive the tourism industry into the digital era in line with the 10x initiative launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to create a Dubai that will be 10 years ahead of other world cities. The high level of interest shown by start-ups worldwide is testament to Dubai’s reputation as an entrepreneurial hub that is committed to inspiring future technology leaders to think beyond traditional business models and limitations. We look forward to working closely with our finalists and connecting them with industry pioneers so they can truly realise their potential and support us in our goal to provide end-to-end seamless experiences to tourists from around the world.

“With the 3rd edition of the Futurism Programme now reaching a crucial and interesting stage, we would also like to express our appreciation for the wholehearted support extended by our partners from diverse sectors, as we continue to collaborate to offer a platform for technology startups to succeed and add exceptional value to the tourist’s journey to Dubai.”

In addition to Accenture, the 2019 Futurism Programme also has the support of key industry partners and investors representing a broad spectrum of sectors, from travel to hospitality, and aviation to legal, finance to technology and transportation. They include strategic partner, Seera Group, industry partners Atlantis The Palm, Emaar Hospitality Group, the Emirates Group and Accor Hotels. The partnership network also includes Dubai SME, Shorooq Investments, Wamda, Middle East Venture Partners, Microsoft, Amazon, Dentons, Alteryx and Careem.

“Collaborating with Dubai Tourism to co-create a programme that nurtures innovative talent is a fundamental priority because of the immense benefits it brings to the economy and society,” said Norberto Cibien, Products Client Service Group lead, Accenture Middle East & Turkey.  “Accenture is committed to the region's Travel and Tourism aspirations and this collaboration with Dubai Tourism is an example of our dedication to bringing and embedding an exceptional quality of start-ups into the Dubai ecosystem to grow the industry. We are proud to play our part by bringing our expertise in building and running similar programs around the world to support Dubai Tourism in creating an internationally renowned ecosystem where travel and tourism start-ups can thrive.”

Abdulrahman Mutrib, Executive Vice President and CTO, Seera Group, commented: “We are excited about our partnership with the Futurism Programme by Dubai Tourism that aims to bring innovative travel and tourism technology trends to life in the region. We are looking forward to working and mentoring the final dynamic 10 start-ups in Dubai to establish a collaborative travel ecosystem and an enriched tourism experience in the digital world.  With such abundant demand for travel, such progressive digitisation partnerships are needed to meet the needs of tomorrow’s travellers.  The tourism industry has been at the forefront of digital innovation and continues to be transformed at a remarkable rate across the world. At Seera, we have embraced digital transformation that brings great value and efficiencies for our customers.”

Alex Alexander, Group Chief Technology Officer, Emirates Group, added: “If the brave, fast and furious world of technology and innovation had a capital city – that would be Dubai.  What the city has achieved and is aiming to do in the future is incredible, not just in terms of the scale of its ambition, or the scope and the sheer investments involved, but also in the unwavering intent and the strong leadership it provides. As one of the leading global organisations based in Dubai, the Emirates Group is committed to the vision and the future of the city.  The innovations we drive today in the travel and tourism space will reverberate well into the future. This is why Futurism and the innovation ecosystem that we are creating today is so important. We look forward to the next edition, to welcoming the 10 finalists to Dubai, and to opening another chapter in the world of infinite possibilities.”

Chris Newman, Chief Operating Officer, Emaar Hospitality Group commented: "We are delighted to continue our ongoing partnership with the third edition of the Futurism Programme, supporting DTCM in their endeavour to further position Dubai as innovative global leader in tourism and hospitality.  The Emaar Hospitality Group has established itself as an influential leader in hospitality within the GCC, and we recognise that the travel industry is becoming more digitally driven and travellers are ever evolving.  We are therefore proud to be involved in this programme, which supports the development of new technology solutions for the new generation traveller, and nurtures fresh, forward thinking talent in the process."

Anthony Lynsdale, Vice President, Information Technology, Atlantis, The Palm, said: “Atlantis, The Palm is once again very excited to partner with the Futurism Programme. This opportunity allows us to connect with enthusiastic innovative start-ups, that are looking to improve how guests interact with technology across the hospitality and tourism sector.  We are especially keen to see how these companies can help us reduce the friction our guest encounter with their arrival and in resort experiences.  Two key areas for us to explore would be; the seamless check-in, and the ability to further digitalise the resort’s operations team when it comes to communicating with and anticipating guest needs.”

Yigit Sezgin, Chief Commercial Officer, Accor Middle East & Africa, said: “As the largest hotel operator in the Middle East, Accor has a strong interest in moving the region’s tourism industry forward and as a champion of innovation, believes in adopting an open approach to everything, from new technology, practices and generations to professions, businesses, start-ups and more. Supporting the Futurism Programme, which enables disruptive technologies to shine, is a natural fit. It gives us the opportunity to work alongside the DTCM and its partners on innovative solutions that will benefit our guests, employees and owners and the wider travel and tourism sector.”

Floor Bleeker, Chief Information Officer, Accor Middle East & Africa, and President of Hospitality Technology Next Generation (HTNG), the world’s largest hospitality technology trade organisation, concluded: “Accor is a pioneer of innovation, driven by the ambition of shaping the hospitality landscape of the future. We believe technology start-ups, SMEs and next-generation disruptors are crucial to creating tomorrow’s world and we work closely with all of them to generate value for our guests, our organisation and our partners. We are therefore excited to work in partnership with the DTCM and Accenture on the Futurism Programme, which will boost the start-up eco-system in Dubai, strengthening its position as a dynamic regional hub for technology and tourism. On behalf of Accor, I would like to wish the 10 finalists every success as they embark on the accelerator programme and look forward to discovering what concepts will prove industry game-changers.”


About Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism)

With the ultimate vision of positioning Dubai as the world’s leading tourism destination and commercial hub, Dubai Tourism’s mission is to increase the awareness of Dubai among global audiences and to attract tourists and inward investment into the emirate. Dubai Tourism is the principal authority for the planning, supervision, development and marketing of Dubai’s tourism sector. It markets and promotes the Emirate’s commerce sector and is responsible for the licensing and classification of all tourism services, including hotels, tour operators and travel agents. Brands and departments within the Dubai Tourism portfolio include Dubai Business Events, Dubai Calendar, and Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment.