Interesting article in the August edition of FC Business (yes I’m that far behind and PS - sorry but the online link to the FC Business website was down at the time of writing) on the FC Barcelona Innovation Hub. The Hub has pulled together expertise from various facets of the club and assembled them under one streamlined and focused innovation department.

The task of the department is to focus on Knowledge Acquisition, Knowledge Generation, Knowledge Dissemination and Innovation. Whilst the strategies and concepts implemented by the staff in the Hub may be replicated (or versions of) at different clubs around the world, the packaging and extent of common knowledge and information sharing and, essentially, innovation sharing (to me) is unique in the industry. Further, it is reported that the club is partnering with corporate entities to study further and commercialise the results produced by the Hub.

Not only does this evidence the fact that the club is thinking like a business (which is now commonly the case with many clubs), but it is evidence that the club is now thinking as a ‘thought leader’ and industry innovator (based on use of cutting edge technology and primary research and data), which is probably more aligned with the activities of a major international conglomerate scientific / corporate entity.

This fascinating and impressive evolution must be managed carefully. Immediately there are legal and commercial issues to consider (which is by non means an exhaustive list) relating to:

1) Data management and exploitation and the implications of the EU General Data Protection Regulation.

2) Intellectual property protection, both in terms of obtaining the appropriate rights and enforcing those rights.

3) Commercial relationships and how employees and commercial partners are engaged and how tangible results are managed and protected.

Given the exponential growth in the commercialisation of the football industry, it is essential that clubs, who are keen not to be left behind, take the right advice and safeguard their commercial interests at the outset. The issues flagged above represent a flavour of those which must be addressed by clubs in order to protect their inevitably costly investments and the intangible and tangible assets produced.