Valencia, July 6th 2021

After pandemic, the activity is coming back and the Inno4Sports workshop is one of the first international events organized at IBV.

The meeting was at the IBV main hall, renamed Jaime Prat Auditorium after the former IBV subdirector passed away due to Covid-19 in March 2021.

Sport sector, like many others, has started an unstoppable digitization process that has been accelerated by Covid-19 during the last two years. This process opens up endless opportunities for innovation to its different groups (athletes, clubs, federations, etc.) whether to increase performance, prevent injuries, stay in shape or improve the user experience during sports practice.

However, its unique peculiarities require a special digitization process associated with recording, managing and exploiting people's data during sports: that is the main idea in which IBV and IVACE are working on throughout their participation in the I4S project.

In the words of the Director of Innovation and Sport of the IBV, Enrique Alcántara, “The objective of action such this workshop is to create synergies and to get the most out of it. Our intention is to be able to network, and with the minimum investment in resources, take advantage of the existing potential in the sector in the Valencian community: we know that here the ecosystem is very powerful."

An opinion that Jose Miguel Sánchez, from Valencian Community Sports Directorate, also shared: he pointed out “the need to define a standard set of indicators for decision making in sports”.

Cristina Blasco from COLEFCV was on the same page: “We know that it is necessary to advance in the use of data to investigate and innovate. Synergies are essential to move forward, so we must try to do so. I believe that the Valencian community can and should be an engine of innovation in sport.”

Alcantara presented a speech on “Data driven sport innovation” in which he underlined the role and the potential of data in Sport, while Daniel Sáez from ITI Valencia presented the state of the art of “Data Spaces as a baseline to innovate in Sports”.

Ben Taylor from Lapland and Marc van der Zande from the Netherland took part in the workshop with a virtual connection. Van der Zande is part of the Cluster Sport&Technology from Eindhoven, and presented some examples about how data driven innovation is going on in South Netherlands.

Vanessa Jiménez and Amparo López from IBV coordinated two parallel focus groups on “Sport as a great data generator”.

Big Data and Artificial Intelligence find a decisive development field in sport, which is being led by the Valencian Community. A single event of any sport produces millions of data and hours of analysis and conversation work in technical and medical teams, physical trainers, scouts and the media.

In the opinion of Miguel Ángel Buil, Head of the Medical Services of Levante UD and owner of IVRE+, “We have to be smart and see if a possible action plan that is generated from the Valencian Community has significant potential, and see how to make it profitable (not only by monetizing) but by seeing how it can help other key sectors of the Valencian Community such as healthcare in many other ways.”

This different way of innovating through data also addresses, as in other sectors, customer or fan satisfaction, social networks, financial management or facilities management, etc. And it must also contemplate the digitization of data capture, processing, storage, analysis, legal aspects of them and their exploitation.

Ferran Calabuig, Dean of the faculty of Sport Science for the University of Valencia, pointed out that “Coordination is needed to unite many people and make it possible to materialize into something great: there are many Valencian technology companies that are working on very cutting-edge projects and there is a lot of potential.”

Pedro Cotolí, Coordinator of L’Alqueria Lab agreed that “We have to share, listen and relate to all the companies and institutions that operate within the sports sector in the Valencian Community”. Hector LLop from Pixelcom remarks “the opportunities that big data and AI offer to improve the economic return of sports centers by reducing operating costs and increasing ticketing (fan engagement)”.

And now, what is the next step?

Giuseppe Caprara, Innovation Manager at IBV, says that “The collaboration within the project is deep and fruitful: this is our strength.” The Valencian Community Sport Directorate, The Valencia City Sport Council, and also company such as Brainstorm, Pixelcom and Dawako were also in the workshop. “The stakeholder group is solid, collaborative and powerful, and this is a great basis for the innovation”, concludes Caprara.

Next step will be a workshop in Lapland in Autumn, in which the working group will analyze conclusions of the Valencia workshop and it will move some steps forward.

(Giuseppe Caprara, July 8th 2021)

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