This year, the SAP Next-Gen program has rallied a global movement of purpose-driven partners that are now joining forces to accelerate innovation with purpose around the world. As the year closes, SAP Next-Gen brings the spotlight back to the region that was an early front runner in sustainability: the Nordics.
Partnerships across the region aim to help Nordic companies and governments achieve their sustainable development goals while linking champions of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to the SAP Next-Gen program’s global network of startups, accelerators, purpose-driven partners, academia, students, citizens, non-profits, institutions, celebrity activists, artists, government leaders, royalty, and philanthropists.
The Nordics Lead the Way on Adopting the SDGs
“The Nordics have been front runners in the EU to adopt the SDGs as a framework for progress,” says Jim Hagemann Snabe, former co-CEO of SAP SE and chairman of Maersk and Siemens. “Solving the world’s problems comes down to creativity, leadership, and big companies working with startups. We need startups because they challenge the status quo. If companies, governments, purpose-driven institutions, and citizens really want to create a better world with tech, old assumptions need to be put to the test.”
Denmark’s trailblazing role in achieving the SDGs was showcased during the United Nations General Assembly week in September. “Denmark: It’s more than a small country – It’s a big idea!” featured Her Royal Highness Mary, the Crown Princess of Denmark, and Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, as well as leading Danish companies and non-profits in sustainable development sharing the country’s successes in the SDG arena. SAP Next-Gen hosted the evening in the SAP offices at Hudson Yards in New York City in a collaboration with the Consulate General of Denmark in New York and the Confederation of Danish Industry.
“Denmark is a frontrunner in promoting sustainable development in our own country and in developing countries. The government launched an SDG Fund in 2018 which will invest in sustainable projects in developing countries. We have also committed ourselves to assess new legislation in terms of their consequences for the SDGs,” says Kristian Jensen, Minister for Finance of Denmark. “This commitment ensures that the SDGs and their implementation is present in the daily work of government.”
“SAP Next-Gen in the Nordics is accelerating connections among the region’s vibrant communities of educators, startups, tech leaders, social activists, and purpose-driven institutions,” said Martin Schirmer, managing director, Nordic and Baltic Region, SAP. “These partnerships are accelerating a movement to drive economic growth and business innovation across the Nordics and are connected to a global network of innovation with purpose.”
“Partnerships for the SDGs that bring together purpose-driven communities with the United Nations, foundations, private industry, and public institutions have great potential to accelerate progress in achieving the Global Goals by 2030,” says Søren Stig, impact investor, board member, mentor, and social entrepreneur. “The growing network of SAP Next-Gen in the Nordics is creating new collaboration opportunities among SDG activists through connections across its global community of educational institutions, the startup ecosystem, and purpose-focused partners.”
Inspired by the model of Denmark’s global business hub for the SDGs and the country’s commitment to sustainability, the SAP Next-Gen program has activated purpose-driven partnerships across the Nordic region.
Helping Purpose-Driven Entrepreneurs Navigate the Nordic Startup Ecosystem
“Our partnership with Startup Guide creates new opportunities around the world for companies in the SAP ecosystem to connect with purpose-driven startups, including in the Nordics,” said Ann Rosenberg, senior vice president and global head of SAP Next-Gen. “Corporates are increasingly seeking to seed in disruptive innovation with startups, particularly those that are linking their startup concept to a higher social purpose.”
Following kickoff and launch events in several global innovation hubs, the SAP Next-Gen program was in Helsinki, Finland to join the December launch of Startup Guide Nordics ahead of the Slush startup summit.
“As one of the most highly skilled and innovative regions in the world, the Nordics are well positioned to build a better future — for ourselves, for Europe, for the rest of the world, and for the environment,” said Sissel Hansen, founder and CEO of Startup Guide. “This book is a call to action for our Nordic partners and a window for our international readers.”
Based on traditional guidebooks that can be carried around everywhere, Startup Guide books help entrepreneurs navigate different startup hubs across the globe and are now in 20 cities worldwide, including Aarhus, Copenhagen, Oslo, Reykjavik, Stockholm, and Trondheim. Startup Guide Nordics provides an inside look at some of the region’s most successful startups, inspiring interviews with innovative founders and advice from the foremost experts in each community.
Startup Guide also has stores in Berlin and Lisbon, which showcase their guide books, products from startups, and a selection of indie magazines, and are a starting point and testing ground for creativity and experimentation. The newest store in Copenhagen is planned to open in early 2019.
People-Centered Design Meets Innovation with Purpose
The SAP Next-Gen program is teaming in Denmark and globally with the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design (CIID), fostering connections among their communities to accelerate positive social change linked to the SDGs.
“Through a passion for design solutions that create a positive impact on the world, and a vision to create a design culture that bridges academia, industry, and startups, we can create a more sustainable future,” says Simona Maschi, a co-founder and director of CIID. “Being fully dedicated to the SDGs agenda, CIID has recently worked on projects on food and machine learning, health and IoT, and future solution for mobility. Our collaboration with SAP Next-Gen helps expand CIID’s reach and impact, helping us inspire sustainability champions around the world about how life-centered design can create new paths leading to innovation with purpose.”
Global Movement for Global Goals
SAP Next-Gen is also collaborating with I Love Global Goals.
“As a digital movement for all to kickstart the sustainable conversion, we are inspiring next-generation SDG activists to activate their local communities to behave sustainably so that we are better fit on earth,” said Lotte Hansen, CEO, Hansen & Ersbøll Agenda. “We share a joint vision with SAP Next-Gen that building partnerships for the SDGs can bring together citizens, corporates, the startup ecosystem, purpose-driven institutions, and governments to accelerate solutions for a sustainable future.”
To further inspire women to become champions of the 17 SDGs and drive progress and change in their communities, the Global Goals World Cup was created by EIR Soccer, a small Danish organization with the big idea to create sports events that inspire women to become champions of the 17 SDGs and drive progress and change in their communities.
“We want to bring the power of sport to the table in the push to realize the Global Goals,” says Majken Gilmartin, CEO of EIR Soccer and the Global Goals World Cup. “We do this by creating a unifying event centered around inspiring and activating women to accelerate awareness and progress in the world.”
The Global Goals World Cup in New York during UN General Assembly week showcased not only purpose-driven women competing for good causes, but also brought together global thought leaders, influencers, and celebrities, who joined with SAP Next-Gen to support the event’s mission. Through unplugged talks and panels highlighting key topics of gender equality, as well as a broadcasting studio, an audience in New York and globally engaged and joined in a movement to accelerate action on the SDGs inspired by the teams and their actions.
Fostering Next-Generation Purpose-Driven Innovators
In September, SAP Next-Gen and SBN Norge brought students from universities around the Nordics region together for the digital twin hackathon, to compete on a business challenge focused on developing disruptive design concepts and prototype solutions for a digital twin of a wind turbine producing renewable energy. Industry partners, universities, and SAP experts supported the students, who used the latest technologies from SAP to create new concepts aligned with Global Goal #7: Affordable and Clean Energy.
As part of its global gender agenda #sheinnovates, SAP Next-Gen and organizations across the Nordics are supporting the goals of the UN Women Global Innovation Coalition for Change to make innovation and technology work better for women and girls. The program also connects universities and its partners to The Female Quotient and its Girls’ Lounge program, which help the next generation of female leaders connect, collaborate, and activate change together.
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