SAP IoT Startup Accelerator: Best Newcomer in 2017

The Berlin- and Palo Alto-based SAP IoT Startup Accelerator program has received the award “Best Newcomer Accelerator 2017” from Capital Magazine.

Eva Zauke heads the program, which is part of SAP’s plan to invest $2.2 billion in the Internet of Things by 2020. Zauke is also COO and head of Cross-Product Management for Line of Business IoT & Digital Supply Chain at SAP.

Q: Congratulations on the award. Capital Magazine has named the SAP IoT Startup Accelerator program Best Newcomer Accelerator 2017. Can you tell us more about it?

A: Thank you, I am extremely proud. As you know we are a pretty young program. We started in December 2016 therefore it is a great honor to receive this award. Last year Capital Magazine approached us for an interview. They asked questions on our mission, our approach, how we are connected to the ecosystem in general and especially in Berlin. They wanted to know how we are working within SAP and how we are working with customers and partners. They did the same interviews with 34 other digital labs and accelerators in Germany. Our approach must have impressed them as we received the prize for the Best Newcomer Accelerator 2017. I am extremely happy and proud of the whole accelerator program and the SAP Data Space team who contributed to the success.

At the award ceremony, they asked you why SAP works with startups. What was your answer?

When you look at the award ceremony there were some pretty prominent companies in the room promoting their startup programs — Daimler, Allianz, Axa, ProSieben Media, Axel Springer. There was some astonishment that SAP is investing in a startup accelerator focusing on IoT. They know SAP as a software provider for their companies, but now we have kind of a different spin, because we are recognized and visible for driving innovation with startups and customers.

They actually asked two questions. First, why we are working with startups? The simple answer is to complement our portfolio and drive customer success, and also to ensure that our products are successful in the market. This is an opportunity to bring innovation to SAP and to learn about innovation in IoT and digital supply chain.

The second question was aimed at us for being a development accelerator with the strong focus on product development. I told them we aren’t the guys who have money, we are not funding startups. When startups need money, they go elsewhere. We are the ones who give startups access to customers. This is also a strong ingredient of our business model. When we established the accelerator, we interviewed many startups and they told us what they really needed — access to customers. This is something we like to think SAP is really good at! For 45 years we have been successful with our customers and we know how to scale and drive innovation. We are part of, and sponsored by, the Development board area of SAP, with an emphasis on product and innovation. Therefore, our clear focus is on being a development accelerator and being strongly product focused.

What are the next steps for the SAP IoT Accelerator?

First, let’s congratulate the team and celebrate the award. It’s high visibility and gives us a very prominent position. I’m extremely proud and happy and I’m thankful, honored, and humbled by what the team has achieved in such a short time frame. But this is also a starting point for our next steps and taking this to the next level. We were asked if we want to be part of the study next year. We clearly will be, and trust we will prove our sustainability.

So what will you see from the accelerator in the next month? You will see more engagement with startups. Especially high touch in building cases and proof of concepts. You will see an increased visibility for SAP on innovation, IoT, and digital supply chain, and successful customer cases and customer success stories, in addition to events and partnerships with other accelerators. We are already well connected in Berlin and we have started co-creation cases with some of the accelerators.

Who is the team behind the SAP IoT Startup Accelerator?

I am very happy that we have teams in the two startup hubs Berlin and Palo Alto. In Berlin, the accelerator is driven by Rosina Geiger, Ignatz Schatz, Stephan Gilles, and Joachim von Goetz, who supports from SAP Co-Innovation Lab. Colleagues also drive the Data Hall, Room, and Kitchen at the SAP Data Space. And David Sonnenschein heads our team in Palo Alto, which has great experience in driving innovation cases with customers and startup. Taking a broader perspective of the team, I would consider the SAP IoT development and product units as part of the group. They sponsor co-creation cases.

When we started this whole endeavor with the startups, the reaction at SAP was overwhelming and it continues. I get offers from colleagues from different areas of business — sales, marketing, development, SAP organizations that want to mentor or sponsor startups. Currently colleagues like Gabi Herzog are helping to coach the startups in terms of creating successful business models, technology, or presentation skill. So there also is an extended team of volunteers and sponsors throughou SAP. This makes me really proud and grateful for the colleagues who offer support and come to Berlin and share their experience and expertise with young companies that are just starting.

Talking about global support and success, we have the Israel-based startup Loginno, which just got invited to pitch in front of SAP CEO Bill McDermott. They were supported by our colleagues in Palo Alto. So we have projects everywhere and we are happy to be able to support the cases that are interesting and promising. And of course winning the award was a very nice way for all the hard work of the team to be recognized!

The study for the Digital Lab Award will appear in the July issue of Capital Magazine. The accelerator study can be found here.

For news on the SAP IoT Startup Accelerator program, visit Twitter and Youtube.

This story originally appeared on Business Trends on the SAP Community.