Bringing start-ups and investors together: the new proposal of Tech Tour Maritime, Trade & Logistics

The Port of Barcelona is sponsoring the first European Tech Tour event for the maritime sector, from May 31 to June 1. The organization shares with PierNext its expectations, objectives and operation.

Posted on 04.22.2022
Tech Tour Barcelona will connect investors and emerging companies, with Port of Barcelona as a host.

Startups, investors and other industry players will meet at the Tech Tour Barcelona on May 31 and June 1 with the Port of Barcelona as host. Investors and experts will be put in contact with about thirty startups, technological and innovative companies, looking for funding and collaborations in the European market. A unique opportunity to work in the much needed ecosystem in a sector where there are hardly any opportunities to generate these interactions.


"It was only a couple of years ago that investors started to look at the maritime industry, for them it is a completely new sector. Initially, they were investing amounts of around $3 billion. In 2020 it was almost $20 billion and that's when they started to get interested in logistics aspects such as last mile or technologies applied to supply chains," explains Pascal Ollivier, president of Maritime Street, and Chairman of the International Port & Harbors Association Data Collaboration Committee.


William Stevens, CEO of Tech Tour, appreciates that "in an industry that, compared to other sectors is perceived as less appealing for investors, Tech Tour has an important role to play in promoting the attraction of capital to finance start-ups. Our experience is an added value for a sector responsible for the movement of 80% of the world's goods, with an enormous economic value and environmental impact".

Tech Tour Barcelona will put selected startups in contact with investors, companies and experts from the logistics and maritime sector (Gettyimages).


Tech Tour Barcelona will be an invitation-only event. About thirty startups selected from among one hundred candidates will attend, as well as about sixty investors, companies and experts who will take part in the project presentation and networking sessions.

The selection criteria are based, in the case of the Port of Barcelona, on those startups linked to maritime logistics and the themes reflected in their strategy and innovation plans.

"The Port will propose a minimum of eight, between local and international, which we believe can make an interesting contribution. Preparations began in February with a team formed by Tech Tour and the Port of Barcelona, with weekly meetings to propose participants, themes and invite the most relevant professionals related to innovation," says Emma Cobos, director of Innovation and Business Strategy of the Port Authority.

The organizing committee has identified three themes as the most relevant, as justified by the organizers:

  1. Digital trade and logistics: "Collecting and processing data to reduce waste and improve efficiency is at the heart of all digitization processes. Now, and in the future, it will be necessary to predict, forecast and manage effectively while reducing costs. Basically, digitization equals competitiveness," says Stevens.
  2. Cargo: "This is one of the most interesting sectors, as solutions are needed for an activity that is highly conditioned by the latest global disruptions. Container predictability and traceability are essential for supply chain efficiency," Ollivier says.
  3. Sustainability: Stevens recalls that shipping accounts for 2.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Although it is not a high percentage, "reducing these emissions is a priority for any modern business model".

Ollivier says that, on this last point, the Tech Tour Barcelona selection panel will include Breakthrough Energy Coalition, Bill Gates' investment fund founded with the aim of accelerating innovation in sustainable energy.

Thirty startups selected from among one hundred candidates will have the opportunity to contact some sixty investors, companies and experts.


Ollivier explains that investors and selected startups will have the opportunity to network, learn from the experience of experts and those technology companies that are already making an impact in the sector.

Investment rounds of type A, B and C, subsequent to the capital rounds focused on starting the company, called 'seed', are carried out.

  • Type A, which are investments of between one and five million euros, seek to recruit talent and generate income to attract future investors.
  • Type B investments, between 5 and 20 million euros, for the expansion of the companies.
  • Type C, between 20 and 250 million euros, would already enter the startup's maturity stage.

Ollivier notes that it would also be interesting for market analysts to start making inroads into a sector that, to date, lacks such financial specialists.

"As a facilitating partner for cross-border investment in technology startups, we offer a format based on investor collaboration and the development of trust and relationships between investors and startups. The selection panel provides invaluable insight by reviewing, in a structured format, the candidates' business models, strategies, products, teams, presentations and investment proposals," says Stevens.


The choice of the venue for the first European maritime event organized by Tech Tour has been two years in the making. Ollivier assures that Barcelona tipped the balance thanks to its experience organizing international events linked to innovation and technology such as the Mobile World Congress, Smart City Expo, Smart Ports: Piers of the Future or, soon, the America's Cup. At the national level, he highlights the Ports 4.0 initiative of Puertos del Estado as a key factor in the acceleration of port innovation.

Ollivier also highlights that the event coincides in dates with SIL Barcelona, adding "an interesting dimension" to the most important logistics event in southern Europe and the Mediterranean.

"It has been precisely a proposal of the Port of Barcelona to organize this meeting during the celebration of SIL, to have the maximum synergies of the maritime-port sector with innovation, in a very close collaboration with the organizers of the logistics event," Cobos points out.

For Stevens, Tech Tour will have a direct impact on the city. "By promoting awareness in the investment community of new opportunities in the maritime, commercial and logistics fields, the Port of Barcelona and the capital of Catalonia will assume a leading role in Europe with great potential for investment in the future."

Emma Cobos shares that the event will give greater international visibility to the Port and stresses the role the port authority will assume as a European innovation hub. "It will also enhance existing hubs, such as Pier01, as well as generate new opportunities for the Port to become a sandbox for startups and companies that bring innovative solutions to the sector," concludes the innovation director.


Tech Tour started 20 years ago as two separate organizations: Europe Unlimited, founded in 1998 by William Stevens in Brussels, and Tech Tour, founded in 1998 by investor Sven Lingjaerde in Geneva. Both realized the need to create a reliable and transparent environment for experts to share best practices and transfer knowledge through a network that would identify the best emerging technologies in Europe.

In 2013, the two organizations joined forces to connect entrepreneurs and investors under the name Tech Tour, organizing around 25 events a year. Despite this journey, Tech Tour Barcelona will be the first one aimed at the maritime industry to be held in Europe.