Innovation and sports as a catalyst for societal good – Introducing the Global Sport Innovation Center in Madrid

On May 12th 2015 in Madrid, Spain, the Global Sport Innovation Center, powered by Microsoft, opened its doors. The center welcomes entrepreneurs, start-ups, and the community to this hub focused on developing collaborative technology solutions for the Sports Industry. An unprecedented partnership between the private, academic, and government sectors, the center is aimed at entrepreneurs and small business, youth, and the community in accelerating innovation in the field of sports, health, and fitness as a driver of job creation and economic growth. Orlando Ayala, corporate vice president and chairman of Emerging Businesses at Microsoft, discusses Microsoft’s support of the Global Sport Innovation Center, one of over 100 innovation centers that Microsoft has helped start.


Microsoft has for many years held a commitment to fulfill our public responsibilities in serving the needs of people in communities worldwide. This extends far beyond our own efforts in using technology to empower people to live their full potential, because it is amplified many times over through our network of partners, including governments, nonprofits, academia and other organizations.

We support these innovation centers as local hubs to provide critical resources and support for youth and students, entrepreneurs and start-ups, helping accelerate not just innovation but the creation of new companies, jobs and growth within local ecosystems. Throughout the world, small businesses play a vital role in local economies, and are often the primary drivers of job and economic growth, and what we’ve learned is that those that embrace technology far outperform their peers in the marketplace.

Being an entrepreneur is not easy. It requires being extraordinary – not just with creative ideas but also in relentless execution, and in being obsessed about your customer. The Global innovation centers we’ve helped support are set up to deliver programs that help entrepreneurs understand not just technology, but also managing a business and customers, which we believe will help empower them with a competitive advantage in an overcrowded market.


Microsoft has been partnering with leading sports brands for many years now, including Lotus F1, the NFL, the Special Olympics and Real Madrid. Additionally, our partners and research groups have developed numerous Kinect applications in health and fitness, such as Nike training fitness and Xbox Fitness, and in physical therapy, to rehabilitate thousands of people around the globe. And of course the Microsoft Band that was released earlier this year.

So sports and health really fits into the core of our passion at Microsoft – to empower people around the globe to get more about every moment of their lives. We now have a dedicated Microsoft sports industry focus, and together with our partners we are transforming the business of the sports industry by using deep data insights, the power of the cloud and mobile technologies to put the fan at the center. At the end of the day sports is all about the fan and the passion they bring, and we can leverage the power of technology, cloud and mobile to deliver to the fan what they really want – to be closer to what they love.



The uniqueness of this center relies on this incredible partnership with public, private, and academic institutions. It’s really an unprecedented collaborative effort, and we aim to export technology created in Madrid to the world, promoting the development and entrepreneurship in the sports and health industries. We’ve created a space for applied research, collaboration and innovation that impacts business opportunities and adds value to the sector, in a deep collaboration with the local government – Comunidad de Madrid.

Not only are we empowering entrepreneurs and start-ups on their journey to build great companies and transform the sports industry, but the strategic partners will really help us bridge the gap between technology and the needs of the sport industry. Together, we are taking steps towards a new future. This is very inspiring for me, because it’s fuelled by our shared love and passion for sports.


Well there is a lot of talent in Madrid, and of course sport is a big industry. The strategic partnership with Real Madrid and the extensive support of Madrid community, along with the Spanish relevance and talent in sports, were key to establishing the innovation center in Madrid. It’s a big opportunity for Madrid to establish themselves as a leader in sport, and to serve as a showcase for the world in sports technology.


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