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Innovation for future tourism: ARGO second call for start-ups kicks off. Human Company is partner in the programme

Until 3rd February 2024, all early stage start-ups can apply to Argo, the tourism and traveltech accelerator of the CDP National Network

The Human Company group, a reference point for openair hospitality openair in Italy, has confirmed its role as corporate partner of Argo - the acceleration programme for start-ups and innovative SMEs that develop innovative and sustainbale solutions or services for tourism and hospitality. The second call for Argo, the tourism and traveltech accelerator was launched on the 12th of december by CDP Venture Capital in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism, part of the CDP National Network. Argo aims to support the development of national or international start-ups that want to open an operational office in Italy, operating in the tourism and hospitality sectors, with innovative and technological solutions capable of accelerating the digital and sustainable transition, innovating a sector that is worth 13% of Italy's GDP.

To support its mission, Argo has a financial endowment of 4.5 million euros, of which 3.4 million is allocated to the CDP Venture Capital Accelerator Fund to support the birth and growth of 30 new startups over a three-year period, including by way of post-acceleration investments. The Argo accelerator is managed by LVenture Group, which co-invests in the selected startups alongside CDP Venture Capital, and VeniSIA, the sustainable innovation ecosystem from the Ca' Foscari University of Venice. Additionally, the main partners, Intesa Sanpaolo and Intesa Sanpaolo Innovation Center (the banking group's centre created to support the development of startups and the innovation ecosystem) provide vital support in terms of mentorship, services, networking and know-how, while the Italian School of Hospitality serves as the technical partner for the initiative.

The second edition of Argo was launched to select early-stage startups working on innovative solutions in the fields of business, cultural, sports, medical, religious and educational tourism; organised travel; open-air experiences; and food and wine, with an established team and a functioning MVP (prototype). The selected startups will receive a pre-seed investment starting from 75 thousand euros, with the possibility of obtaining a further non-repayable grant of 25 thousand euros from the Ministry of Tourism.

"I am very satisfied with the collaboration that the Ministry of Tourism has entered into with Argo. There can be no future for the industry if young companies are not encouraged and supported, allowing them to put their creativity and innovation to the test. As a result, the ministry has decided to support the startups selected by the ministry under the Argo programme – for a second time – with a non-repayable grant of 25 thousand euros. Future generations need certainty, not just hope. Hosting the startups that received funding from the first edition at the International Tourism Forum was a chance to foster the innovation, sustainability and digitalisation that the tourism sector needs. It is no coincidence that innovation plays a crucial role within the ecosystem laid out in our Strategic Tourism Plan. If we do not stand by our young creative minds, allowing them to create ideas and projects that can contribute to the sustainable growth and development of tourism, there will be no tomorrow," explained Daniela Santanchè, the Minister of Tourism.

Startups that meet the above requirements can apply until 3 February 2024 by going to the www.argoaccelerator.com website. To give startups the opportunity to present their solutions to the accelerator partners, Argo will hold three roadshows with dedicated pitch sessions. The first will be held on 19 December at the LVenture Group Hub (Rome, Termini Station). The Argo accelerator is based in Venice at VeniSIA, in the former Herion complex on the island of Giudecca. The first edition of Argo supported seven startups, who were able to achieve some impressive results: four of them have already obtained further post-acceleration investments, for average pre-seed funding of approximately 400 thousand euros. The programme therefore successfully "boosted" the development of the startups.

The first batch of startups described the impact of the programme on their growth: "Our experience in the Argo programme was very positive. By participating, we were able to achieve a significant increase in terms of brand visibility and customers, thanks in large part to the funding from the partners and the grant from the Ministry of Tourism. One of the most impactful aspects of the support we received was access to a network of expert mentors, business partners, and potential investors, which opened up new possibilities for growth and development for Mapo Tapo," noted Daniele Pollino, CEO of Mapo Tapo.

"During 2023, we decided to participate in the Argo programme, which marked a fundamental step in our corporate evolution. Thanks to the continuous formal and informal feedback received from the acceleration team, and the support of all the programme partners and the Ministry of Tourism, we have been able to keep improving at a constant pace. During this period of acceleration, we have not only increased the speed of our revenue growth, but we have also significantly expanded our network of relationships," noted Berardino D'Errico, CEO of Smartway.

"The Argo acceleration programme was an opportunity to join a network of fantastic people, all brimming with ideas and energy. We immediately set objectives in order to improve our service and our sales strategies. By the end of the journey, we had established a new corporate culture, new internal organisational processes, and three new sales channels. The support we received from our mentors and advisors was constant and tailored to our needs and objectives," concluded Vincenzo Abbatantuoni, CEO of Tela.