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Story of success: theDesk member – LaLiga – Kicks off innovation hub in Madrid

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The Spanish football association, LaLiga, recently announced the launch of the ‘Startup Competition 2019’ supported by Microsoft’s Global Sports Innovation Centre. The ‘Startup Competition 2019’ is part of LaLiga’s Original Inspiration Centre and aims to attract the best technical talent within the industry. In the runup to the event, we caught up with Eduard Castell, LaLiga’s delegate to Hong Kong and Macau, and a member of theDesk since December 2017. We discussed Eduard’s experience at theDesk, touched on LaLiga’s company overview, and most importantly, highlighted the details of this initiative that opens the door to numerous startups in the world of sports and entertainment.

The Spanish Giant

Headquartered in Madrid, LaLiga is a professional men’s football league in Spain and is associated with UEFA. Founded in 1929, it’s one of the most popular leagues across the globe and encompasses the 42 teams of the first and second division of the Spanish football competition. Having been graced by some of the beautiful game’s most prestigious players, most notably Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, the brand is renowned in all corners of the world.

theDesk member - La Liga event

The 2017/2018 season reached more than 2.7 billion people globally. In fact, LaLiga is the only international football league to have a physical presence in Hong Kong, highlighting just how international the brand has become. The company also upholds UEFA’s Financial Fair Play Regulations, is a great supporter of female participation in the sport and is the world’s first professional football league with a league for intellectually challenged footballers: LaLiga Genuine.

Local Connection

Eduard Castell has been a prominent member at theDesk coworking space for nearly one and a half years. He came to Hong Kong to promote the brand and increase its digital presence within the region. His coworking experience began at theDesk’s Sai Wan space and when asked on why he chose theDesk, he answered with no hesitation, “the minute I contacted theDesk, I received quick and hassle-free service, so here I am”. Eduard recently moved to the Leighton Centre space which is conveniently situated in the heart of Hong Kong. “A premium brand such as LaLiga should be based in a prime location such as the Leighton Centre and the inclusive community has really helped to connect us with local organizations. Also, its locality helps with hosting events, business meetings, and gaining media exposure,’’ he stated.

Eduard went on to underline the inclusive culture of theDesk, “It’s a very friendly and flexible environment that encourages networking through sports events and also a variety of social gatherings like wine-tasting and BBQ get-togethers.” Eduard added, “theDesk’s team advised me on different business-related topics and helped me to reach the right members of the community.” He concluded that theDesk is a place where he “always sees a smile from the members and the team.”

theDesk member - LaLiga Event
LaLiga has invited local influencers such as Tat Gor to attend LaLiga matches in Spain and organized different watch parties to engage with fans.

Gateway to Innovation

In September 2018, LaLiga signed an agreement with GSIC to launch the largest global ‘Startup Competition 2019’ – a platform that identifies the best technological developments in the sports and entertainment industries. As a joint initiative with LaLiga, it will aim to promote digital talent by developing disruptive ideas that help LaLiga to grow in the field of innovation and technologies. It will create a gateway to the sports and entertainment industries for startups across the world.

Participation is open to all tech-based companies involved in key fields such as media, fan engagement, smart venues, performance, and big data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. The 10 finalists of the Startup Competition will have a chance to run a pilot program with LaLiga, will get coached by LaLiga representatives, and will learn about the company and their pilot projects. They will be granted an opportunity to integrate their ideas into different areas of Spanish football and utilize LaLiga’s assets in the field their projects are developed. During the Immersion Week with LaLiga, the shortlisted candidates will also get to meet the LaLiga and GSIC heads and learn about the challenges and objectives they face.

Lastly, the nominated startups will participate in a 3-month GSIC Acceleration Program which grants them access to extensive mentoring programs, investor contacts, participation in major international events, and a digital transformation certification. This launch will help startups grow, gain global recognition, and be a part of the LaLiga Innovation Hub.  

Minerva Santana, LaLiga’s innovation director, stated, “At LaLiga, we are committed to the development of the best technological innovations that help to improve the experience of our fans and the technological growth of our clubs.”

LaLiga’s Innovation Program for startups is a fantastic opportunity to bring businesses together and forge successful collaborations. Given theDesk’s unique culture of building meaningful connections and delivering business value to our members and neighbors, we highly encourage all interested parties to apply. It will not only help you to build strong ties beyond theDesk’s walls but will further drive your business forward. The application is now open and will close on March 30th, 2019.

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