Sports Tech Students to Intern Abroad with Real Madrid NEXT, Leading Technological Innovation in the Sports Industry
Historic football club's innovation engine brings AI insights to the field and the front office
Students enrolled in any of the Sports Technologies & Digital Transformation dual master’s programs, offered jointly by the School of Business at Stevens Institute of Technology and Real Madrid Graduate School-Universidad Europea, are guaranteed internships with Real Madrid NEXT during a five-week summer session. Real Madrid NEXT is on the cutting edge of the sports world, leveraging modern technology such as AI and big data to optimize their operations, create predictive models and expand their business offerings.
Never has technology had a greater impact on organizations in the sports industry. Mario Garrido, the chief business development officer at Olocip and codirector of the Sports Technologies & Digital Transformation master’s program at Real Madrid Graduate School, identifies two main areas where AI is currently driving solutions: player performance and corporate success. Olocip, a technology firm that creates strategic assets with artificial intelligence models, captures player data in partnership with Real Madrid C. F., analyzes it, and transforms it into suggestions for tactics and player acquisitions. Similar analysis of players’ movement and performance helps with injury prevention too. Real Madrid NEXT uses AI to inform corporate decisions and strategies by leveraging data to create models related to fan engagement, ticketing, digital assets and merchandising.
“With football, there are unpredictable things, but there are predictable things, too,” said Garrido. “We don’t have to have 100 percent of the information, but with the correct methodology, we can reduce uncertainty and reduce the margin of error.”
Real Madrid NEXT collects the most relevant and useful data to maximize the impact of their models. AI provides direction for these decision-making processes by producing informed suggestions, using data that would otherwise be inaccessible. With tools such as Computer Vision, which tracks players’ movements and decisions across whole matches, players can be objectively valued and their in-match performance assessed. Such performance data can help the club predict the optimal team composition or a player’s performance in a future matchup. Garrido used the example of predicting how Ligue 1 and French National Team player, Kylian Mbappé, would perform over the next 10 months if he were acquired by Real Madrid C. F. Along with predicting what one player’s future contributions would be, NEXT uses these models to inform team composition decisions, optimizing for the best predicted performance for the club.
Taking the NEXT Step
As interns at Real Madrid NEXT, students will help lead these technological innovations and learn how to practically apply them in the sports industry. The students will take four modules with Real Madrid Graduate School-Universidad Europea: Sports Performance, Big Data & AI in Sport, Smart Venues and Sports Technology context. These modules, paired with the five-week internship, help students gain insight into technology's role in developing strategy, preventing injury, scouting and training. Julien Piwowar, innovation manager at Real Madrid NEXT, explains that there are 500 athletes who regularly use their facilities, offering ample opportunities to test player performance technologies.
“We have an amazing ecosystem within Real Madrid to test a lot using video and tactical analysis,” he said.
Following the sport performance modules are those relevant to corporate objectives, such as marketing, sports technologies contextualization and audiovisual content. These modules show students how Real Madrid uses technology to increase fan engagement, optimize and automate digital content, and manage digital assets, among other applications. Each of the modules culminates in a case study, during which students develop and present solutions based on what they have learned over the course of the module.
Through the Sports Tech master’s program, students have the chance to advance their technological skills and contribute to an innovative, world-leading sports organization with Real Madrid NEXT. An internship with NEXT places students at the heart of technological innovation in the sports industry and gets them involved in the process of finding new methods, models and solutions. Since NEXT has so many areas of work, which are all quickly developing, Piwowar said that there are many opportunities available and that students could have the chance to enter a full-time role at Real Madrid after the master’s program.