German giant SAP sets up accelerator program in Tel Aviv

German giant SAP sets up accelerator program in Tel Aviv

First of the 3-month programs will focus on deep tech and the intelligent enterprise; next ones will have other themes

Orna Kleinmann, managing director at SAP Labs Israel, left, and Alexa Gorman, head of SAP.iO Foundries EMEA (Courtesy)
Orna Kleinmann, managing director at SAP Labs Israel, left, and Alexa Gorman, head of SAP.iO Foundries EMEA (Courtesy)

German multinational software firm SAP SE is setting up an accelerator program in Israel, seeking new technologies in order to expand the portfolio of technologies and services it can provide to customers.

The Foundry program will be run by SAP.iO, a strategic business unit of SAP set up in 2017 to work closely with startups and tap into their innovations. The unit either invests in early stage startups or runs accelerator programs that provide selected startups with mentorships, a co-working space, and access to its 400,000 customers globally who can work closely with entrepreneurs to make sure their specific needs are met. The program will also make available data and SAP platforms startups may need to develop their technologies.

“There is a huge ecosystem of very innovative startups in Israel,” said Alexa Gorman, head of SAP.iO Foundries EMEA. “Tapping into these startups will enable SAP “to provide our customers with innovation that we are not necessarily going to develop ourselves.”

The SAP.iO Fund has to date invested in four Israeli startups, out of a portfolio of a total of 24 firms, Gorman said.

Orna Kleinmann, managing director at SAP Labs Israel, left, and Alexa Gorman, head of SAP.iO Foundries EMEA speaking with journalists in Tel Aviv; Sept. 10, 2019 (Shoshanna Solomon/Times of Israel)

The new Foundry program in Tel Aviv joins those SAP.iO has already set up or is in the process of setting up in Paris, Berlin, Munich, New York City, San Francisco, Tokyo and Singapore. The selected startups for each of these three-month long accelerator programs will also have access to the network of startups in the other foundries.

Startups in the accelerator programs will not need to give SAP any equity, Gorman specified. The decision whether to invest or not into the seed stage of startups was the difference between “a sprint and a marathon,” she explained. Most startups that have joined the accelerator program will largely go their own way after the program has ended, she said, though they’ll still have strong ties with SAP. The startups that the SAP.iO fund invests in will have a longer-term relationship with the German conglomerate.

The accelerator program is an addition to SAP’s activities in Israel. The firm has been active in the so-called Startup Nation for the past 21 years and has acquired a number of firms, the first of which was software firm Ofek-Tech in 1998, giving SAP its first R&D base in Israel. In 2017 the firm acquired the startup Gigya.

SAP Israel serves some 3,400 customers locally, including the government, the army and a total of over 220,000 users. SAP Labs, its R&D center, is one of four centers the software firm has around the world and employs some 800 developers, mostly in its newly built HQ in Ra’anana and another center in Tel Aviv. They focus on cloud technologies, computer vision and Internet of Things developments. Foundry activities will take place in the Azrieli Sarona workspace in Tel Aviv.

SAP’s new building in Ra’anana, Israel (Courtesy: Uzi Porat)

“We are increasing our relations with the ecosystem in Israel,” said Orna Kleinmann, managing director at SAP Labs Israel and SVP Technology & Innovation Cloud Experience. “We always say that the presence of SAP in Israel is much more than the 800 Java developers that we have here…it’s really about bringing the innovation from the ecosystem into the company and to our customers.”

Each three-month program of the accelerator will have a specific theme, with the first being deep tech and the intelligent enterprise. Two such cohorts will be run per year, said Gorman.

Seven startups have been selected for the first accelerator cohort:

  • ARpalus is an AR and predictive analytics retail technology startup that uses artificial reality (AR) and predictive analytics for the automatic collection and deep analysis of large-scale shoppers’ behavioral data.
  • EasySend helps financial enterprises improve customer experience and increase operational efficiency by allowing them to digitize all of their paperwork and “cumbersome” forms.
  • GrowthSpace develops tailored online coaching platforms for enterprise employees. Users hold one on one video coaching sessions with specific career objectives.
  • Outgage is a Software as a Service (SaaS) direct mail platform that bridges the gap between offline and online campaigns to create personalized brand experiences for effective conversations between enterprises and their customers.
  • Silverback is a sales intelligence platform for online marketplaces. It uses cross-marketplace analytics to enable online stores, sellers and brands to see their products’ sales performance across different e-commerce channels to enable them to do better pricing, marketing and promotions.
  • Supersmart provides a “Scan&Go” solution that allows consumers to instantly check out their fully loaded cart or basket, enabling a positive customer experience.
  •  YOUTILIGENT uses machine learning and Internet of Things to enable vendors and service providers to change the way they communicate with their appliances.
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