Today’s leading enterprises are approaching digital disruption in new ways. These businesses understand that to be industry leaders, innovation must have a higher purpose; they realize that through collaboration with academia, startups, and communities, they gain access to creative ideas geared toward building a sustainable and inclusive future.

This collaborative approach to digital innovation was a strong focus at the 2018 SAP Academic Conference in APJ, which took place this week at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia.

The conference saw more than 150 teaching and research faculty from across the region explore the latest updates from SAP, including technologies that enable the intelligent enterprise. The event also brought a strong focus onto the innovation with purpose that is linked to the 17 UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development and opportunities for faculty to bring them into classroom and student projects.

Throughout the week, faculty had the opportunity to join communities aligned with their interests and expertise, as well as learn about how to establish SAP Next-Gen Lab and #sheinnovates Girls’ Lounge locations on campuses.

Attendees of the 2018 SAP Academic Conference in APJ

Meet-ups on innovation with purpose, science fiction thinking, and #sheinnovates were well received by faculty attending the conference. Felix Tan, researcher and senior lecturer of Information Systems at UNSW Business School, shared insights from some of the impactful projects he is involved in, including IgrowAsia, which helps underemployed farmers better utilize their land to produce high-quality organic food and produce sustainable incomes by connecting them with investors and cloud-based agricultural management software.

Horizon State Co-Founder Jamie Skella discussed his vision of creating a more trustworthy and democratic future with blockchain technology, showcasing examples of how voting platforms can be used for collaborative decision making. Together with Dr. Deb Polson, interaction design academic and producer from QUT Design Lab, SAP Next-Gen ran design thinking sessions enhanced with science fiction thinking.

Dr. Polson noted the importance of these types of sessions: “We must let our students be more creative, forward thinking, and engaged with future technologies and practices. The conference is very timely for our faculties to learn how to use science fiction thinking combined with micro-solutions to inspire students to create sustainable futures linked to the 17 UN Global Goals.”

World Economic Forum data suggests it could take 1,000 years for South Asia to catch up on gender equality. Th SAP Academic Conference featured many female thought leaders, role models who showed the importance of empowering women, especially in Asia. Many faculty signed up for #sheinnovates meet-ups and Girls’ Lounge locations at their universities, making clear that the academic community believes that gender equality and inclusiveness are core to tomorrow’s innovation and we should collectively support more young women to pursue STEM education and gain digital skills.

Cecile Godde, environmental and agricultural scientist at CSIRO, shared her inspiring journey as a scientist and urged faculties to empower their female students to lead. Madison Schaumberg, corporate liaison for QUT Women in Business, shared ideas on involving faculty and local women leaders in running leadership and development workshops for female students.

SAP also announced 12 new SAP Next-Gen Chapters in APJ, which will become multipliers of SAP Next-Gen programs and communities to accelerate innovation with purpose linked to the 17 UN Global Goals. SAP Next-Gen Chapters are think tanks for industry as well as academic centers of excellence supporting other educational institutions in the global SAP Next-Gen network. With the APJ announcement, there will be a total of 38 SAP Next-Gen Chapters globally.

Learn more about the SAP Next-Gen program.