Over the past 18 months, more than 110 universities in 34 countries have opened SAP Next-Gen Lab spaces to connect companies with academic thought leaders, researchers, students, startups, accelerators, purpose-driven partners, and SAP experts. The goal of these labs: to spur Innovation 3.0 linked to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Are you beginning to hear the buzz around Innovation 3.0? You’re not alone. Innovation 3.0 is one of the hottest trends today. Recognizing its potential to scale disruptive solutions to many of the world’s biggest challenges, more than 110 SAP Next-Gen Lab spaces have opened n the last 18 months at university campuses in 34 countries as well as at partner and SAP locations. The SAP Next-Gen program aims to open many more labs globally in the months and years ahead.

Companies are using SAP Next-Gen Lab spaces to tap the mindset of academic thought leaders, researchers, and students together with startups, accelerators, purpose-driven partners, non-profits, NGOs, institutions, futurists, and SAP experts. In the open innovation communities fostered by SAP Next-Gen Lab locations, companies are exploring how the latest SAP technologies can be adopted to both enhance business performance and achieve purposeful outcomes aligned with the UN SDGs.

Innovation 3.0: Crowdsourcing for Purpose

Innovation 3.0 is all about crowdsourcing the embedded knowledge of a global community of purpose-driven innovators in academia, the startup world, non-profits, and institutions in order to enable companies and organizations globally to rapidly uncover new solutions to address the SDGs.

Flash back to 2010. Leading universities and accelerators were beginning to advocate innovation within open communities and to offer innovation tours and bootcamps to enable corporations to tap the disruptive insights of a broad range of next-generation thinkers and doers. In 2015, world leaders adopted 17 Global Goals that aim to improve billions of lives around the world by 2030. In just three years more than 13,000 companies joined the United Nations Global Compact, showing their support for the SDGs as a framework to align strategies, operations and investments. Fast forward to 2018, where innovation life cycles are no longer measured in years or even months, but in weeks or even days.

“Innovation 3.0 has now kicked in,” says Ann Rosenberg, senior vice president and global head of SAP Next-Gen. “SAP Next-Gen Lab spaces around the world are where Innovation 3.0 is becoming the new normal.”

The Rise of Purpose Thinking

The book SAP Next-Gen: Innovation with Purpose highlights how the SDGs are a guiding framework for channeling digital technologies into innovations that can improve people’s lives, and how new mindsets — such as science fiction thinking and purpose thinking — can help accelerate disruptive innovation.

A January 2018 article by Charles Riley of CNN highlighted the emergence in the corporate world of a focus on purpose, and included quotes from Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, whose January 2018 annual letter to shareholders was entitled “A Sense of Purpose.” Fink shared that “society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose.”

From New York to Cape Town to Singapore, SAP Next-Gen Lab locations are enabling a convergence among corporate, academic, entrepreneurial, and purpose-driven ecosystems united in a rising awareness about the importance of “innovation with purpose.”

The 101st SAP Next-Gen Lab Space in Armenia

In collaboration with the government of Armenia and the Children of Armenia Fund (COAF), the 101st SAP Next-Gen Lab space opened on May 27, 2018, at the COAF SMART Center in Lori, Armenia. There are plans to open seven additional SAP Next-Gen Lab spaces in collaboration with COAF and the Armenian government.


Children of Armenia Fund’s SMART Center is among the world’s most innovative initiatives for the advancement of rural communities. COAF SMART Center is a novel, holistic, and replicable approach to rural revitalization that focuses on providing modern technological resources, encouraging idea collaboration, and maintaining the highest quality instruction standards for critical educational competencies.

The Lori SMART Center and SAP Next-Gen Lab will be accessible to 150,000 people living in the region, making the latest educational resources from SAP for the digital future available to Armenians and their communities. Students of all ages in the region will gain access to instructional resources from SAP in virtual reality design, iOS application development, blockchain, and other subjects that set the stage for the next generation of innovations that shape a purposeful world. SAP Next-Gen also connected COAF with LEGO Education CIS.

The opening ceremony of the SAP Next-Gen Lab was attended by more than 400 people, including COAF Founder Garo Armen; ministers of the new Armenian government, including the Vice Prime Minister, Minister for Education, Minister for Health Care, Minister for Labor and Social Protection, and Minister for Foreign Affairs; and donors to COAF Smart Center from all over the world.


“Together with SAP, we want to drive imagination and innovation beyond its limits,” said Garo Armen. “Bringing SAP Leonardo and SAP Next-Gen to students in Armenia will make this goal a reality. The passion and intellectual capital that SAP brings to COAF programs is unparalleled, and through this partnership we will tap into the high — and as yet untapped — potential of youth who are eager to learn and build a new Armenia.”

Learn more about the SAP Next-Gen program