Innovation is the driving force behind the digital transformation. Established companies need it. Startups can provide it. This simple truth led SAP to launch the SAP IoT Startup Accelerator program in Berlin.

Tanja Rückert at the Franco-German Digital Conference
Rückert addressed over 300 representatives from startups, international companies, and public institutions at the Franco-German Digital Conference

What are the business models of tomorrow? How can established companies create innovative products for the future? These were some of the key questions at the Franco-German Digital Conference, held by Germany’s government, at the end of 2016. Tanja Rückert, executive vice president of LoB Digital Assets and IoT at SAP, was invited to share her thoughts on these questions.

Speaking to Germany’s minister for economic affairs Sigmar Gabriel, France’s finance minister Michel Sapin, and over 300 representatives from startups, international companies, and public institutions, Rückert said: “New business models are less about technology itself and more about how it is challenging the status quo and making the seemingly impossible possible. To benefit, business and politics must be open to innovation. This is not easy, particularly if you are already successful at what you do. Why change a winning formula?”

Building on this theme, the ensuing discussion pinpointed support for startups and the integration of Germany’s and France’s ecosystems as key success factors for innovation. The digital transformation, the audience heard, was not a process that any one country could master on its own; it requires both collaboration at international level and support for partnerships between established companies and fledgling startups. Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande, both in attendance, agreed.

Data Space by SAP in Berlin: A Place for IoT Founders

While the politicians debate, SAP is already taking a proactive approach and unveiled its new startup center for IoT founders in Berlin the day before the Digital Conference. From February 2017 onwards, startups selected for the SAP IoT Startup Accelerator program will work at the Data Hub with customers and SAP teams on IoT proofs of concept.

Through this structured program, SAP is providing startups ‒ for the first time ‒ with a space where they can work and meet, and where the goal is to achieve business success for startups, SAP customers, and SAP itself.

Eva Zauke, head of the Accelerator and COO LoB Digital Assets and IoT at SAP, says: “By introducing the SAP IoT Startup Accelerator, we’ve laid the foundations. Now we’re pushing toward implementing innovative and profitable proofs of concept. Startups bring in innovation and – often – first customers too. During the next three months, we’ll be teaming up with our customers and partners to help them scale both the innovation and the client base.”

At the opening ceremony in December, the first innovative IoT startup ideas were presented. Forming the basis from which the new solutions for the connected world of tomorrow will emerge, the ideas ranged from maintenance drones for inaccessible locations through flexible route planning powered by real-time data to augmented reality glasses that help factory personnel work more efficiently.

Marian Pufahl from logistics startup Synfioo explains what makes collaborating with SAP in the SAP IoT Startup Accelerator such an attractive option: “SAP has a huge network and it has access to customers. Add our solution to the mix and you create added value for all our mutual customers.”

What exactly has been achieved by implementing innovative prototypes and business models with Synfioo and other startups will become clear over the next few months. The new startup facilities with their high ceilings, open-plan spaces, and colorful furniture are waiting eagerly for startups, customers, and IoT colleagues from all over the world to start getting creative and connecting the world with their innovative business models.

Rückert has a clear vision for 2017: “The SAP IoT Startup Accelerator provides the means for trying new ideas. Our aim is to draw on innovative IoT technologies to make the seemingly impossible possible.” Excitement is in the air, and there is every chance that we’ll see new IoT proofs of concept emerging from the SAP IoT Startup Accelerator as the year goes on.

For more information on the program, visit www.sap.com/iot-startup.