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Global businesses around the world were challenged by the adversities of Covid-19 last year and it continues to affect the world in 2021. Although for a while, few business strategic decisions were kept on hold, but enterprises responded quickly with accelerated investment in digital transformation. The need for them to be customer centric and more agile grew this year even more, and covid-19 acted as a catalyst for adoption of new innovative technologies. Some of the key attributes reiterated in almost every post-COVID action plan for Global Enterprises were the demand of innovative, agile, nimble, and efficient solutions. Since start-ups fulfill all these criteria, they became favourable options of partnerships for technology giants.

Many Tech-Enterprises are trying to explore open innovation through structured programs with the start-ups. SAP has already set a global standard for startup-driven innovation and they have been making direct investments into many early-stage enterprise software startups in areas that are strategic to them via SAP.iO Fund (an early-stage venture arm of SAP). SAP.iO’s start-up engagement ranges from acceleration and partnerships to investments and acquisitions.

SAP.iO Foundries (innovation hubs) accelerate ~18 cohorts of startups every year and they have inducted a total of 279 startups since 2017 and about 100+ startups have delivered their apps, add-ins, and integration kits to SAP’s global customers through SAP Store, e.g. BigID, Bravely, Clearmetal, Cogniac, Cultivate, DroiceLabs, Gnowbe, mymeds, Paradox, ParcelLab etc.

Despite the pandemic, SAP.iO startup acceleration activity increased by ~36% in 2020 across their global network of 9 SAP.iO Foundries. Many start-ups solutions are being integrated with SAP Solutions and offered to various clients in the last couple of years. Nearly 500 SAP clients have either engaged or bought most relevant solutions from these start-ups that quickly provided value, especially in an existing SAP environment. Around 88 Start-ups could create great value for SAP customers who procured those solutions through the SAP App Center.

Note: Data for the year 2020

Across 9 foundries, there were various themes of the start-up’s accelerations in the year 2020. The most important investment themes were Industry 4.0, Creative CX across Retail, Fashion and Consumer Products, Fin-tech, Covid-19 Recovery, Future of Work and Remote Workplace Solutions, Travel-Tech and Procurement.

SAP.iO (through Tokyo and Berlin Cohorts) accelerated startups focused on manufacturing, logistics, supply chain management and process optimization, that can help SAP’s customers extend the value of their investment in SAP S/4HANA and the Digital Supply Chain. The New York, Tokyo, Bangalore, TelAviv Cohorts inducted startups tackling top-priority challenges including personalization, consumer experience, data-driven insights, sales automation, and demand and supply planning. Startups at the Paris and San Francisco Cohorts helped startups that increase the value of workforce by developing, managing, engaging, and empowering employees and Offered in conjunction with SAP SuccessFactors solutions. At Berlin, startups that have a working solution in Data Harmonization, Business Analytics, Machine Learning, and Data-as-a-Service, were accelerated.

At the Covid-19 response and recovery front, ~60 start-ups provided discounted solutions/offerings or developed offers for business most impacted. Start-ups developed tools to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, like AI spread modeling, symptom-tracking solutions, chatbots for diagnoses and people-tracking. Remote care, Telemedicine, Apps managing patient flow and help hospitals streamline resources, broadly emerged to be more in demand in the pandemic situation.

One such example is of Youtiligent that developed an AIoT-based technology to help companies keep vaccines cold across complex distribution supply chains. They combined AI with IoT technology to deliver real-time alerts for cost-effective predictive and preventive maintenance.

Many SAP customers have been benefited by procuring these start-up solution either from SAP Store or by  directly engaging with them, e.g. Henkel combined the important customer data from ‘Sampler’ with information in SAP Customer Data Cloud to make it easier for them to continue the dialogue with customers. One more customer Bentley, utilized Plum’ to extend SAP SuccessFactors Recruiting solutions, and leverages predictive talent data that enables their teams to have effective talent management.

In 2020, SAP collaborated with start-ups on joint go-to-market efforts including adding SAP.iO startups to SAP Industry Cloud packages and developing thought leadership. A record number of SAP.iO startups went live on the SAP App Center including three startups that achieved Spotlight or Endorsed App status are Cogniac, Icertis, and Paradox.

Cogniac’s Visual Operations Intelligence platform is now available on SAP® Store. Cogniac’s AI, machine vision platform complements the industry cloud portfolio from SAP for automotive and industrial machinery and components industries and integrates with SAP Digital Manufacturing Cloud. Icertis Contract Intelligence is an AI-powered contract lifecycle management solution that integrates with SAP Ariba solutions to push contract data to complete downstream procurement processes. Paradox’s unique solution for recruiting called Olivia is a conversational AI assistant that automates administrative work for recruiters and hiring teams, integrating with the SAP SuccessFactors Recruiting solution.

Going forward in 2021, SAP.iO launched 8 new accelerator programs till now for enterprise startups focused on developing software for B2B enterprises. The newer themes this year include Future of Work, Sustainability Management, Social Impact, 5G technology and Services, Intelligent Enterprise, and Experience Management across industries like Healthcare and Life-Sciences, Consumer Products Industry, Professional Services, and Agribusiness Industry. SAP.iO connected startups to SAP customers to help them access innovation and extend the value of their investment in SAP solutions. In 2020, a total of 66 Startups completed an integration to an SAP solution. Strategic alignment of start-ups to SAP Solutions have been with SAP SuccessFactors (Qualtrics, SAP CX), SAP Ariba, SAP Fieldglass, SAP Concur, SAP Cloud Platform, SAP Analytics Cloud, SAP Digital Supply chain etc.

                Few cohorts that have already inducted start-ups in the new year are Tokyo, Paris, Berlin, Munich and TelAviv. Under Intelligent Enterprise category, they are investing into startups that are applying advanced technologies to help companies become more resilient, profitable, and sustainable. For Consumer Product Industries, startups are providing personalised marketing content and offers, Social engagement and commerce, improved segmentation, targeting and consumer experience. For sustainable future, Investments into startups that are innovating in the areas of: Carbon Tracking and Trading, Resource Efficiency, Climate Risk Tracking & Mitigation, Circular Economy.

Startups are considered as the fastest way to innovation for SAP Customers and over the years SAP.iO has witnessed an increase in engagement from customers seeking support and guidance for their problems. SAP.iO foundries connect SAP customers to the concerned startups in a very structured way and operate thematically each year. This year alone, more than 500 SAP customers engaged with SAP.iO Foundry startups to get connected to the most relevant startups who could quickly provide value, especially in an existing SAP environment.
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