Barcelona Football Club to Invest in Sports Tech Start-Ups with New Innovation Strategy

 by Troy Hanson March 2, 2023

In this article, we’ll look at Barcelona’s new strategy for their Centre for Innovation and Knowledge, the Barça Innovation Hub (BIHUB), which aims to expand into sporting innovation start-up companies that share their values and passion for sport. 

Key Takeaways:

  • Barcelona Football Club is expanding into sporting innovation start-ups that share their passion for sport and values with their Barça Innovation Hub (BIHUB).
  • The Club has already invested in two companies, Visualfy and Oliver, as part of this initiative.
  • This new strategy will allow the Club to enter a domain where start-ups can adapt more quickly than larger technology companies or solutions.
  • The Club’s increased involvement in the start-up ecosystem is the latest evolution of BIHUB, which was established in 2017 as an ecosystem to benefit academics, students, startups, investors, and society as a whole.

Barcelona Football Club has launched a new strategy for their Centre for Innovation and Knowledge, the Barça Innovation Hub (BIHUB), which aims to expand into sporting innovation start-up companies that share their values and passion for sport. 

The initiative will create a platform for talented entrepreneurs in the sports industry, enabling them to thrive and make a positive impact. To become shareholders in these companies, the Club will offer its primary brand assets.

Expanding into Sporting Innovation Start-ups

Barcelona’s first two investments in this initiative are accessibility start-up Visualfy and wearable data analytics firm Oliver. Visualfy develops technology to help people with hearing disabilities attend sporting events, while Oliver focuses on amateur and regional teams. 

These two companies embody the values of the Barça Innovation Hub, which is dedicated to promoting innovation in sports that are inclusive, accessible, and beneficial for everyone.

Equal Access to Stadiums

Barcelona President Joan Laporta stated that the Club is committed to equal access to stadiums and sees Visualfy technology as a way to make this a reality. 

This is a significant move towards accessibility in sports, demonstrating how technology can create a positive impact on people’s lives.

Elite Technology for All Sports Sectors

According to José González Ruzo, the CEO of OLIVER, their idea merges advanced technology with a fun mobile app that uses wearables and artificial intelligence to enhance the performance of all sports sectors, particularly football players. 

This is another example of how the Barça Innovation Hub is supporting innovation in sports that benefit all participants, not just professional athletes.

Expanding Innovation Driver to Start-up Companies

By implementing this new strategy, the BIHUB will be able to extend its innovation efforts to an area where start-up companies are more agile than larger tech firms or conventional solutions. 

Over time, the Club’s start-up portfolio will help them stay ahead of the curve in sports 

innovation while also contributing to the growth of Barcelona’s economy. This will encourage the development of local talent and attract entrepreneurs from all over the world, with the Barça brand serving as a catalyst for innovation and diversification in Catalonia.

The Evolution of BIHUB

Barcelona Football Club has evolved its Barça Innovation Hub (BIHUB) to have more direct involvement with the startup ecosystem. The BIHUB was established in 2017 to benefit not just the club, but society as a whole. 

The Club announced this at the ‘Sports Tomorrow Congress’ event held during the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in the Catalan capital, where the key themes included the metaverse and artificial intelligence (AI).

Moreover, Barcelona Football Club has an agreement with the Barcelona Supercomputing Centre to build a digital twin of their Camp Nou stadium. This €1.5 billion (US$1.6 billion) project is a catalyst for the club’s digital transformation, with cybersecurity, connectivity, big data, and AI among the top priorities.

The digital twin will allow the club to simulate different scenarios in real-time and make data-driven decisions that can improve the fan experience, optimize operations, and reduce costs.

Conclusion

Barcelona Football Club’s new strategy for their Centre for Innovation and Knowledge, the Barça Innovation Hub (BIHUB), is an exciting initiative that aims to expand into sporting innovation start-up companies that share their values and passion for sport. The Club’s first two investments in this initiative, Visualfy and Oliver, demonstrate their commitment to innovation that is inclusive, accessible, and beneficial for everyone. 

This new strategy will provide a platform for enterprising talent in the sports industry and help them grow and prosper while making significant changes in the world. 

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