This year’s Horizon 2020 Report, funded by the EU’s research and innovation programme, has named Valencia as among Europe’s six capitals of innovation for 2020. The Spanish city has seen its profile as a technology centre grow in recent years, helped by a strong network of universities and organisations such as Startup Valencia.
The non-profit organisation has long been promoting the city and wider community as an international destination for entrepreneurship, which will now be further supported by an alliance with LaLiga Santander side Valencia CF.
Itself a technology pioneer, Valencia CF has invested in various digital transformation projects over recent years and with this partnership, it plans to take these efforts to the next level by launching the VCF Innovation Hub.
Located at the club’s Mestalla stadium, the hub will provide a space for the city’s entrepreneurs to focus on innovations in sports and technology. Initial projects will focus on medicine, sports science, smart stadium infrastructure and fan engagement.
Adding global reach
With seven million followers across social media, spread across all continents, Valencia CF will then use its significant global reach to further promote the work of Startup Valencia and increase collaborations. The organisation already partners with more than 600 startup businesses in the technology and digital sectors at a local level.
“Valencia is an important technology hub in Spain,” said Startup Valencia president Juan Luis Hortelano. “In the last seven to 10 years, we have developed a really nice ecosystem around technology and startups. It’s really important for the association to work together with Valencia CF, who are one of the biggest and most important ambassadors of the city around the world. It can help our startups to get some visibility around the world.”
For Valencia CF president Anil Murthy, this is the natural next step in the club’s efforts to promote the city and the region “For the last three years, Valencia CF have been investing a lot of time, energy and money in building up its technology and in building up its digital innovation to be a modern club that can contribute new ideas in football and connect with its fans,” he said.
“This partnership is the culmination of one year of thinking of how to work with the local community here in Valencia, which is doing very well at the level of startups. We’re happy to have this agreement with Startup Valencia to see how we can have new startups involved with us in fields that are very important to Valencia CF. Hopefully we can build young companies here in Valencia.”
Existing culture of transformation
The club has already benefitted from working with technology startups in the past, signing collaboration agreements with Bcoach (an app for coaches), Blinkfire (a sponsorship analysis and evaluation platform), Jeff (cleaning, delivery, beauty and fitness services), Solver Machine Learning (focused on machine learning and artificial intelligence) and IMEDUCV (a high performance sports medicine unit). The club also continues to embrace technology and innovation through its fan communications, offering unique services through its official application.
“We’re really happy to sign this contract with Startup Valencia; it’s really important for us and means that we can reach local talent,” added Franco Segarra, the head of digital innovation at Valencia CF. “We’re going to be able to work together and to continue improving in an innovation sense.”
“There is a really important community here in Valencia. It has grown a lot since a couple of years ago and we believe that we, as such a renowned name, can make this even stronger.”