La Liga selects startups to drive innovation in football

03 Jul 2019

By: Sport Industry Group

La Liga has revealed the ten winners of the first stage of a competition designed to foster and generate innovation in the football market.

The Startup Competition 2019, organised by La Liga and the Global Sports Innovation Center (GSIC) powered by Microsoft, is part of the global agreement signed by La Liga and Microsoft in 2016. The ten winners were chosen after the initial phase received applications from a total of 279 companies from 55 different countries.

The initiative seeks to boost digital talent and ideas by promoting disruptive solutions that can help La Liga and its clubs continue to grow in the field of innovation and technology, acting as a gateway into the sports and entertainment world for new companies around the world.

All solutions submitted for consideration had to be based on the subjects of media, fan engagement, smart venue and performance, along with others such as big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

The ten projects were chosen from each area by a panel drawn from La Liga, GSIC and Microsoft representatives. Two projects have been chosen to represent smart venue – a project presented by an Australian company offering solutions in the fields of access control, cashless payments and user experience; and an app developed in the UK which helps capture fans’ most exciting moments inside a stadium.

Under the field of performance, a solution developed in Spain has been chosen which helps to analyse the cause of injuries and, above all, how to avoid them. Another Spanish initiative has been selected which can recreate a 3D body model with a scanner to direct medical supervisions and track the progress of each player.

For media, a Spanish-developed product has been selected that allows for instant movement between different cameras to improve the fan experience, with the added ability to connect with different events simultaneously. An application developed in the United States has also been chosen which offers different commenting options for live games.

In the fan engagement field, four projects have been selected. These include a solution developed by a UK-based company which connects users and allows them to interact during match broadcasts, and a Spanish application which gives fans the chance to have digital autograph collections certified by blockchain technology, in addition to offering a marketplace where users can buy, sell and exchange memorabilia.

A US-developed application has been selected which helps fans travelling in another country to find fellow fans of their club and watch the game at a venue in the city they’re in. Finally, a Spanish solution has been chosen which analyses user behaviour and habits through the use of artificial intelligence and data analysis to make content recommendations.

Iris Cordoba, Managing Director at GSIC powered by Microsoft, said: “Thanks to The Startup Competition 2019, ten innovative companies will have the opportunity to explore synergies on an individual level with La Liga and in group with other winners, and, as a result, initiate pilot schemes within one of the most important sports organisations in the world.

“At GSIC powered by Microsoft we will help them at this stage through our growth acceleration program and by incorporating them into our ecosystem, boosting the integration of these solutions into La Liga’s strategy.”

The ten chosen teams will prepare through July and August for the immersion week, which will take place in September. In this final phase of the competition the selected startups will arrive in Madrid to prepare their final presentations at the World Football Summit, which takes place on 24th and 25th September.

This preparation stage, which will extend until December, will help them to better understand the organisation and familiarise themselves with the areas in which their pilot projects will be developed.

During this period the ten startups will start the growth acceleration program with GSIC featuring mentoring sessions, contact with investors and high-level directors at both La Liga and GSIC, digital transformation certification and the chance to access the Microsoft for Startups program. In addition, pilot projects approved by La Liga will begin development during this time.

The ten finalist startups will also be able to enjoy free GSIC membership for six months. Minerva Santana, La Liga’s Innovation Director, said: “We are convinced that we have picked the perfect startups to improve the La Liga fan experience and boost our clubs’ technological growth. From this point on we’ll be working hand-in-hand with them in order to maximise the potential of these pioneering projects.”