Israeli startup Refundit, which developed a platform enabling travelers to submit VAT refund requests before reaching the airport, won first place at the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) start-up competition in partnership with Globalia Corporación Empresarial SA, a leading tourism group in Spain and Latin America.
The competition was held for the very first time this year in Madrid. Refundit was among four Israeli startups that made up the 10 finalist companies in the contest, aimed at identifying initiatives with innovative and sustainable technologies and projects for the tourism industry.
Founded in 2017 by Ziv Tirosh and Uri Levine, also the co-founder of Waze, Refundit developed a fully digitized, mobile solution to allow non-EU travelers and tourists to apply for their VAT refund through an app, without waiting in long lines at stores or visiting the customs counters at airports.
Refundit’s solution empowers the tourist, the retailer and the country’s economy, by making tourists’ shopping more enjoyable and appealing, the company says. “Refundit’s digitized solution also allows tax authorities to provide refund approvals online and enables them to integrate innovative elements such as Big Data, advanced analytics, AI capabilities and fraud prevention into the VAT refund
“Refundit’s solution is aimed to fix an inefficient market in which 90% of refund – some 23-billion-euro – entitled to non-EU tourists, is not returned to its owners, every year,” it added.
“We are excited by the recognition we received from the World Tourism Organization to the contribution of Refundit to global tourism economy and tourists,” Tirosh said in a statement.
Refundit provides its services to non-EU tourists in Belgium, and will soon expand to Slovakia and other European countries, it says.
Israeli startup Pruvo, which developed hotel booking software that helps customers book accommodation at the lowest possible prices, won a €100,000 grant for operations in Portugal.