Booking.com has awarded grants to Australian start-ups Okra Solar and Clean Travel as part of its 2019 Booking Booster accelerator program for start-ups in sustainable tourism.
Okra Solar will be receiving this year’s highest grant amount of €400,000 ($646,000) and Clean Travel has been awarded €100,000 ($161,500) out of Booking.com’s €2 million fund allocated to the program.
The two companies participated alongside ten teams of finalists from all over the world in a three-week accelerator program, consisting of a series of lectures, workshops and coaching sessions, led by Booking.com in Amsterdam, culminating in a final pitch.
Okra Solar is distributed solar energy sharing. The technology aims to transform the energy market and offers affordable energy access for 1.2 billion people living off the grid.
Clean Travel is a software platform that helps local ethical travel operators manage their business and reach a global audience. It connects communities with local travel organisations that offer unique ethical adventures.
Gillian Tans, president and CEO of Booking.com, said: “I am so impressed by the incredible dedication of these amazing start-ups and the innovative solutions they are developing to protect communities and resources in every corner of the globe.
“We have long believed that technology is a powerful instrument for good, including when it comes to sustainable travel.
“I’m so proud of each and every one of these passionate change-makers, and am looking forward to following their progress and supporting them as they seek to transform their visions into reality, helping to keep the destinations that we all love happy and healthy for decades to come.”
The 10 start-ups that participated in the 2019 program hail from eight different countries and operate collectively across virtually the entire globe.
Their businesses also represent a diverse mix of models and solutions, including products that leverage technology to facilitate environmental and wildlife conservation at scale, as well as platforms that empower at-risk communities to thrive through their inclusive approach to tourism.
The other sustainable tourism start-ups that are being awarded grants from the 2019 Booking.com Booster Program’s €2 million fund are IMPULSE Travel (Columbia) for €400,000, NotOnMap (India) for €250,000, Avy (Netherlands) for €200,000, SASANE Sisterhood Trekking and Travel (Nepal) for €175,000, Picha Eats (Malaysia) for €175,000, Hydrao (France) for €100,000, I Like Local (Netherlands) for €100,000 and Sumba Hospitality Foundation (Indonesia) for €100,000.
All the participating start-ups, whether receiving a grant or not, will receive a year of ongoing mentoring and coaching from Booking.com experts.
This includes opportunities and access to collaborate with Booking.com on potential innovation initiatives and experiments to help accelerate future growth for the participating scale-ups, including projects undertaken together with the Booking Cares Volunteer Program.
In addition to the Booking.com scaling grants that were awarded, for the second year in a row Amazon Web Services (AWS) will support the Booking.com Booster finalists by giving them the possibility to join its start-up program, AWS Activate.