The world’s biggest competition for startups on disruptive solutions for the football ecosystem promises to accelerate change, mainly on a technological basis, for football structures in Spain – but worldwide, too, eventually. La Liga, the body for Spanish league football, is collaborating with Microsoft’s Global Sports Innovation Centre (GSIC) to create a platform for startups and innovators that have plans and strategies on hand to revolutionise the sports, media and enterntainment aspects of the industry.
Microsoft and La Liga: A proven partnership
The technology company with its renowned software – and hardware – and La Liga have teamed up before. In 2017 they collaborated in the context of social listening. In order to offer fans more personalised digital content, La Liga gave clubs the opportunity to draw on Microsoft’s solution to track Social Media engagement related to specific players or clubs.
We are the best league in the world, and we want to transform our offer to football fans through digital solutions that enable La Liga’s more than 1.7 billion followers around the world to access digital products and services in a personalized way,
said or rather claimed Silvestre Jos, director of technology services, at the time.
Now, the Spanish football league body wants even more technology-based solutions to find their way into the national football ecosystem. Therefore, they have partnered with the GSIC to call for any startup or innovater to augment fan engagement via modern days’ innovative services or products.
The aim is to empower digital talent developing disruptive solutions in the football, sports and entertainmentindustrywhich can help continue LaLiga’sgrowthin the field of technology and innovation,
reads the official briefing on the matter. The competition itself started on January 29.
Four cornerstones for the competition
Startups that want to help La Liga with its process of digitalisation and disruption of existing structures are still able to apply until March 30. Should they do so, their solutions must be focused on one of the following areas. Otherwise, they won’t be amongst the 25 startups selected by a jury.
- Media: OTT, broadcasting, social media, digital content, new media, digital marketing, second screens, graphics, analysis, piracy
- Fan engagement: fan profiles, social media, electronic sports, gamification, social listening, community, commercialisation, VR/AR/MR, digital games
- Smart venues: security, fan engagement, ticket sales, fan experience, food and beverages, connectivity, cashless payments, access control and guest management
- Sports performance: analysis, sports training materials, injury prevention, health and lifestyle, research.
Innovators in the field of big data, AI, machine learning etc. are also considered. The ten finalist startup companies will have the chance to join the GSIC and become part of a 200 plus strong company network. Furthermore, together with mentors they will be able to launch a pilot project with La Liga, said Iris Cordoba, the general manager of GSIC. Meanwhile Minerva Santana, LaLiga’s innovation director, emphasises:
[A]t LaLiga we are committed to the development of the best technological innovations that help to improve the experience of our fans and the technological growth of our clubs. What’s more, with this kind of initiative, we reassert our commitment to empowering talent in the football industry.
Advantages for startups that aid La Liga, too
As soon as the ten finalists are selected, there will be an immersion week and a special event at the world football summit in 2019.
From then on, La Liga will work closely with the startups, which have a six-month membership with the GSIC, that will offer them magnificent opportunities. For example, they will get mentorship and training by La Liga executives, they can use Microsoft for Startups, get access to La Liga assets or valuable B2B contacts and will be given a digital transformation certificate. All of that can only help their very own visibility and prominence in the tech, sports and media scene.
Eventually, their collaboration with La Liga will lead to the possible implementation of their solutions in the different areas of Spanish professional football. Apart from that, a cash prize might also have the tech inventors for the football ecosystem keen-eared by now.
Whoever is interested or believes to have a solution on hand to aid La Liga’s technological disruption strategy, is welcome to apply for the promising competition in cooperation with tech experts Microsoft. And while the competition might augment the Spanish league body’s repertoire of technological solutions – that will certainly be needed for further growth, especially in international markets –, other leagues and associations should take the initiative as a good example. Giving young players a chance is the club manager’s task – giving young startups with great ideas the possibility to develop and shine is down to the various bodies in control.