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Barça Innovation Hub was presented to the world on Wednesday in an event in the Auditori 1899 hosted by Josep Maria Bartomeu and featuring figures from institutional, scientific, academic and business fields, as well as local and international media. Broadcast globally via streaming, the presentation began with a speech from Bartomeu, who asked for a minute’s silence for the club’s former president Agustí Montal Costa, who passed away this morning at the age of 82.

The auditorium had been given a makeover before the event, with technology taking the leading role in the form of a large curved screen serving as a backdrop behind the speakers: Dr. Jordi Monés, Commissioner of Barça Innovation Hub, and representatives of the five knowledge areas: Maurici López (Team Sports), Francesc Cos (Sports Performance), Gil Rodas (Health Services and Nutrition), Marc Subirà (Technology), Russell Stopford and William T. Manarelli (Social Sciences).

During his presentation, Josep Maria Bartomeu explained that Barça Innovation Hub is “a very exciting project for the club. We have been working on it for a year, and it is one of the pillars of the area of knowledge, along with Masia 360, an area to which the club is fully committed to in order to continue aligning ourselves with what we want to be: the most admired, loved and global institution”. The president, who announced that the presentation would be in English due to the global dimension of the event, which was being followed live at Beijing University and in the Barça office in Hong Kong, stressed the uniqueness of Barça and in its desire for “knowledge and innovation to form part of our identity.”

Dr. Jordi Monés then took the floor to outline the details of Barça Innovation Hub, which he described as “a very ambitious project and one that we firmly believe in, want and need. We are a very special club, we can say that we are a unique club, because we are local and global. We are committed to our values and all of our members have high expectations, so we are always obligated to be in a winning position, we always have to be first, and therefore we must always be reinventing ourselves, which means knowledge and innovation, and that is why we want this project and is also why we need it”.

The commissioner continued by explaining the core areas of Barça Innovation Hub. “We must accept that we are humble, that we do not know everything, and we must obtain knowledge from the best” he said. “If we do not find it, we must create it, and then we must explain it, and spread it to our members, agents and universities. Sometimes we do this for free and sometimes we will exploit it. And finally, we must transfer this knowledge in order to make it real, to turn it into things that are applicable to our daily lives. We are convinced that if we strengthen these four lines of action, the club will improve a lot. To take this project forward, we want to partner with institutions, companies, academics and all of the major players in the field of knowledge”.

Appearances by knowledge areas

The event continued with speeches by representatives of the five knowledge areas. First to go was Maurici López, representing the Team Sports area, who presented an observation of football from a unique perspective: scientific complexity. Science applied to football is a way of understanding the complexity of the game and generating knowledge that is fed back to the players. This knowledge helps players to find new and creative gameplay solutions, and also helps to foster the Barça style and to consolidate its foundations.

Francesc Cos, director of the Sports Performance area, shared the idea that if Barça plays a different way, it also has to train differently, and how the analysis of players’ positional data and playing characteristics can be used to plan personalised training programmes in order to achieve maximum performance and improved prevention of and recovery from injuries.

Gil Rodas, manager of the Medical Services and Nutrition area, explained how the club works in collaboration with its partner Gatorade to improve the nutrition and hydration of athletes by applying medical research in the field to create a new personalised product in keeping with each player’s needs and thereby improve their sporting performances. The aim is also to apply innovation in this field to create a marketable product for athletes.

In the Technology area, Marc Subirà’s talk was based on the importance of data gathering and the FCBme app that was especially created for the players. Through data analysis and the gamification of the experience, major changes in athlete behaviour can be achieved. Through user experience, such data and gamification inform the user (athlete) and researcher (medical staff and first team coaches). This knowledge is very useful for improving sports performance.

Finally, in the Social Science area, two studies were presented. On the one hand, Russell Stopford spoke about the club’s digital strategy, which takes a user-centred approach, focusing on the user’s needs and ways of thinking. The goal is to create, optimise and exploit digital assets to the maximum. The club is working in partnership with some of the biggest digital platforms, such as Facebook, Google and Instagram, to create new assets.

Finally, William T Manarelli explained how the Espai Barça project is applying a new project management paradigm based on the idea of an Espai Barça that is open to everyone. This quest for openness and democratisation is extended to areas such as the design (barrier-less space, open to the neighbourhood, Camp Nou without a façade, etc.) and the concept of the project itself and its relation and interaction with the collaborating architects.

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