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As the Barça Innovation Hub (BIHUB) Sports Tomorrow Congress technological innovation workshops were drawing to a close, president Joan Laporta announced a new strategy for the Club's centre for innovation and knowledge - to include a start-up investment platform to promote enterprising talent in sport and understand the value of their development.
This new strategy aims to expand BIHUB's activities into sporting innovation start-up companies that share "our values and passion for sport", assured the president. The idea is to "help these start-ups grow, prosper, and make significant changes in the world". The Club will make its main brand assets available in exchange for becoming shareholders in these companies.
Visualfy, a hearing accessibility company
The first agreement in this regard has been reached with the company, Visualfy, which develops technology to help people with hearing disabilities attend sporting venues. In this sense, Mr. Laporta reminded that the Club firmly believes that "everyone should have equal access to stadiums, and that the Visualfy technology will help make this a reality".
The company has developed a system that, among other solutions, can provide visual rather than audible alerts - particularly useful in situations of risk. “We work for all types of clients, because our product can be used equally at a train station or in a sporting facility. Additionally, it is suitable for both people with hearing disabilities and use at locations with high levels of noise pollution”, assured the Visualfy CEO, Manel Alcaide.
OLIVER, a data management solution
The BIHUB has also reached agreement with OLIVER, an accessible data management solution used by many top clubs, regarding its use at sporting levels where usually unavailable, such as regional or amateur teams. This tool helps football communities improve their skills and knowledge about the game by providing sporting performance data via a device that players place on their leg inside a sock.
"We know that grassroots teams are the lifeblood of football, and we want to support their development and growth as much as we can", acknowledged the president. For his part, the OLIVER CEO, José González Ruzo, explained that their proposal “brings elite technology to all sports sectors in society, combining wearable, artificial intelligence with a 100% gamified mobile app to improve footballers' performance. We currently work with 95 teams in more than 20 countries”, he reminded.
Expanding Barça's innovation driver
This new strategy for the BIHUB will see the Club's innovation driver expand into a domain where many start-ups are capable of adapting much more quickly than major technology companies or large-scale solutions.
Gradually developing in the coming months, the new start-up portfolio will put the Club at the cutting edge of change in the sporting domain, while also helping Barcelona and the region develop an added value economy, fostering local talent and attracting global talent, with the Barça brand available to enable diversification among the Catalan entrepreneurial sector.
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