Imaging and anti-counterfeiting tech triumph in LaLiga Startup Competition

LaLiga, the organising body of the top two divisions of Spanish club football, has revealed the identities of 10 companies who have emerged victorious in a competition designed to identify cutting-edge technology in sport, with two firms being chosen under the banner of smart venue.

Startup Competition 2019, backed by the Original Inspiration Centre by LaLiga supported by Global Sports Innovation Centre (GSIC), launched back in February as part of the global partnership signed between LaLiga and Microsoft in 2016.

The objective of the competition was to identify disruptive solutions that would help LaLiga and its clubs to continue advancing in the field of innovation and technology. The key areas of smart venue; media; fan engagement and performance were identified, along with the likes of big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning, with the venture having attracted 279 entries from 55 different countries.

Twenty-five of these startups were identified to present their solutions to a jury composed of executives from LaLiga, Microsoft and GSIC, with the 10 winners coming from five countries. In the smart venue category, proposals from Australian firm Solos and UK-headquartered Snaptivity were chosen.

Solos specialises in tech related to combating counterfeiting. It was selected for its development of an intelligent technology in the form of a tag that can be implemented in two ways, portable and transferable to any garment or integrated into merchandise during the manufacturing process.

This tag allows three needs to be addressed: creating an alternative of intelligent access to a stadium, protecting a club against counterfeit merchandising, and offering experiences and premium content through a club app to fans who purchase tagged merchandise or scan a tag.

Snaptivity is focused on image tech, providing solutions for venues and brands to ensure ongoing and meaningful relationships with their fan communities through fan engagement platform, sponsorship, social networks and live fan experiences.

It was chosen for AI software that measures the emotions of fans in the stadium. Sensors connected to cameras in a stadium can take photos of fans in the crowd when dramatic moments in a match take place, sending the resulting images to registered users. LaLiga said the photos can also be part of an activation campaign for club sponsors and the detection of emotional moments can be used to send notifications with offers of products or services available at the stadium and in the official club shop.

Minerva Santana, director of innovation and global development at LaLiga, said: “At LaLiga we are convinced that in order to remain leaders we need to be able to anticipate the new relationship models and forms of consumption that technology enables, to generate and take advantage of the competitive advantage associated with innovation. The collaboration of LaLiga and the clubs with the startups will help us in achieving this objective.”

Over recent weeks, the 10 winning startups have been involved in an immersion process with LaLiga to learn more about the organisation, its clubs, and the needs of both. They have also been granted training to refine their proposals with a view to launching pilot projects in the coming months. Additionally, the winners have been granted a one-year membership of the GSIC.