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By partnering on a pro-cycling team, Bahrain and McLaren’s innovations will be felt far beyond the world of elite sports

The Bahrain McLaren cycling team, a joint venture between McLaren and the Kingdom of Bahrain, has been officially announced today at the McLaren Technology Centre, just outside London. This partnership is designed to take on the world’s best pro-cycling teams and win but the team represents much more than that. It is a deep technical collaboration that is designed bring a new era of innovation to pro-cycling and add new digital understanding to what is still regarded as an essentially analogue sport.

Technology transfer

The developments that take place in the white heat of pro-cycling competition will have much wider applications than just cycling. Just as Formula One pioneered technology that made cars safer and greener, and ultimately changed the face of mobility, McLaren Bahrain anticipates that advances in cycling will impact industries far beyond elite sports and change the discussion around human performance, materials technology and data analytics.

The sporting mindset

In sport, anything less than absolute commitment usually means failure. If your mindset is a relentless pursuit of better then research is intensified, systems and workflow stress-tested and optimised, roles honed and drilled, and timeframes compressed. It is not just technology that transfers from sport, it is ethos and code. Businesses of all shades wonder how they can assume and distil a winning mentality that allows teams to deliver when it counts.

Wider solutions

Businesses that grow out of sports teams have a natural advantage, especially when that sport, like F1 or pro-cycling, combines precision engineering with human endurance. McLaren Applied Technologies (MAT) is an example – with hundreds of people working across different fields including data science, mechanical engineering, design, human performance, clinical R&D and disease management. With the influence of the sports teams underlining its pedigree and focus, MAT is well placed to both revolutionise cycling science and develop new use cases for the technology this breeds.

Bahrain as a partner

With a concentrated and highly digitally literate population of around 1.2m, and a well-developed data economy that couples strong data protection laws with the region’s only hyperscale data centre set up by Amazon Web Services, Bahrain is emerging as a technology testbed in the Gulf. As a growing innovation hub embracing next generation technology, Bahrain is a natural partner in a team that has ambitious goals – to best use data and technology to get to the very top of the pro-cycling world and target the biggest events. Equally, Bahrain has high levels of obesity (that could be tackled in part by the huge enthusiasm for cycling that is gripping the country), and a growing healthcare ecosystem that would benefit from continued human performance discoveries. With a regional lead in F1 and MMA, the Bahrain McLaren cycling team is a welcome addition to a nation that is focusing on excelling its sports tourism infrastructure and harnessing the tech spillover that happens when industries synergise and collaborate.

A new era with Bahrain McLaren

While the focus of the new team will be winning, the potential for a technology dividend that helps people who may not even have any awareness of cycling as a sport is huge. With a combined pioneering heritage, a commitment to digitise cycling and an appreciation that the value of the by-products of success may be a huge success in itself – there’s every chance that the legacy from this new sports team will be measured as much in its wider contribution as the trophies it claims.