Business magazine CAPITAL and strategy consulting firm Infront Consulting & Management were looking for Germany’s best corporate innovation units. In a great honor for SAP, both the SAP Innovation Center Network and the SAP Startup Accelerator program convinced the jury in their respective categories and were named winners – for good reasons.

“SAP impressed us with two brilliant innovation units: the SAP Innovation Center Network, with clear strategic orientation, global presence, and mature methodology, and the SAP Startup Accelerator, with a very focused approach which perfectly addresses the needs of startups and the innovation ecosystem. No wonder that both units achieved very good results,” acknowledged Thomas Sindemann, study leader and partner at Infront Consulting & Management, after handing the DigiLabs Award 2018 to Jan Schaffner, head of the SAP Innovation Center Network, and Eva Zauke, vice president of Digital Supply Chain and Manufacturing, SAP, and head of SAP Startup Accelerator.

The award ceremony was part of the second Digital Lab Summit, taking place at the Factory Görlitzer Park in Berlin.

The study, “Corporations on the track of startups 2018,” was conducted by business journal CAPITAL in collaboration with Infront Consulting & Management and confirmed that SAP is at the forefront of Germany’s innovation labs. After an online inquiry and evaluation interviews with more than 60 participants, a jury named the SAP Innovation Center Network and the SAP Startup Accelerator winners in the categories of “Best Innovation Hubs/Services” and “Best Accelerator.”

The wins were both based on insights into the strategic approach of the unit, their working model and the results in terms of their impact on the wider SAP.

Clear Focus Paired with the Right Methodology

With its powerful development resources, the SAP Innovation Center Network has proven how it can make a difference by launching successful products or mainstreaming technologies like machine learning at SAP. But what makes the SAP Innovation Center Network approach so special?

“At SAP, we believe there are three main types of innovation: Incremental, adjacent, and transformative innovation,” explains Schaffner. “While we continuously improve our products everywhere across our company, the SAP Innovation Center Network has the mandate to explore emerging technologies that can yield entirely new products and markets for SAP.”

Derived from this strategic approach and tailored to the specific needs of small and dynamic innovation projects, SAP Innovation Center Network has established its own portfolio steering approach, including a portfolio management software tool and unique approach to enable technology exploration across all locations.

Different Types of Innovation

Not all innovations are the same. In fact, there are three different types of innovation, each with its own particular challenges:

  • Continuous innovation involves incremental improvements to current products by means of established technologies within existing markets (horizon 1).
  • Adjacent innovation means extending our existing portfolio based on new technologies or tap into adjacent markets with established technologies (horizon 2).
  • Transformative innovation is the development of completely new technologies and business models, giving rise to revolutionary products, services, and new markets (horizon 3).

“As we are currently engaged in ramping up our pipeline in the early phase projects to identify the next big thing after blockchain, the DigiLabs Award 2018 is a great recognition for our strategic approach and how we operationalize it,” Schaffner said after receiving the award. “This is encouraging for us and will assure all colleagues again that the SAP Innovation Center Network is the place to be if you want to turn new ideas into real value.”

A Great Day for Innovation at SAP: Best Startup Accelerator Again

Founded in 2016 and based in Berlin and Palo Alto, SAP Startup Accelerator received the DigiLabs Award last year as “Best Newcomers Accelerator” and was given the IoT Global Award in 2018.

“It is our mission to globally co-innovate with selected B2B startups to grow and scale their business alongside SAP, our partner ecosystem, and global customer base,” said Zauke. “The startup community is an important part of our innovation in digital supply chain, manufacturing, assets, Industry 4.0, and IoT solutions. We are very proud of our accomplishments and developments.”

The program is part of SAP’s plan to invest $2.2 billion in the Internet of Things by 2020.

SAP Chief Innovation Officer Juergen Mueller is very happy with the strong innovation footprint of SAP: “Since Clayton Christensen’s ‘Innovator’s Dilemma,’ we have known that corporate innovation is a tough challenge. But we have many very committed teams at SAP working to come up with the next big business idea and driving market adoption. It’s a great acknowledgement of their work and will encourage us to continue pushing the boundaries.”