Can SAP Startup program create unicorns? Image credit /Pixabay/Wildone
Can SAP Startup program create unicorns?

The SAP Start-up Focus Program was launched in 2012. Since then according to SAP, 3,200 early stage companies have joined up and 210 SAP solutions have been certified and are now commercially available. Some of these solutions will be present at the SAPPHIRE NOW conference being held May 17–19, 2016, in Orlando, Florida. Whether 210 certified applications on SAP is a success is debatable, however if one of those successes becomes a unicorn, pentacorn or even decacorn it will be very satisfied with the investment.

Manju Bansal, vice president and global head of SAP Startup Focus (Source LinkedIn)
Manju Bansal, vice president and global head of SAP Startup Focus

Manju Bansal, vice president and global head of SAP Start-up Focus comments ahead of SAPPHIRE NOW,  “The SAP Start-up Focus program has experienced tremendous momentum since its introduction and continues to foster our innovation ecosystem.

“SAP forged this community to help startups quickly and easily gain market traction with Big Data, predictive and real-time analytics solutions that complement our technology and help our customers gain even more value from their investments in SAP HANA.”

The announcement comes ahead of the major user conference for SAP and Oracle is only just seeming to wake up to the opportunity that startups can offer, there doesn’t appear to be an equivalent program. Oracle has just announced a startup incubator in Bangalore, the location was chosen as it is the second largest startup community outside of the US. It has a long way to go before it catches up with either SAP or IBM however as they will only be incubating 5-6 startups initially.

SAPHANA for startups

For SAP,  this program is directed towards startups  focused on using SAPHANA, using the in memory database to deliver Big Data, predictive or real-time analytics solutions. The program offers several incentives including up to €25,000 funding for AWS services that will help a startup during its early life. The program lasts twelve months, but can be renewed. Companies looking to take advantage of the program can learn more at SAPPHIRE NOW or at various events held throughout the world. The next three are being held in Berlin, London and Madrid, with other regions being covered later in the year.

Of the seventeen startup companies appearing in Orlando, several have solutions that cut across ERP and Security, but the spectrum is far wider encompassing industries such as aerospace, consumer products, healthcare, industrial machinery, life sciences and the public sector. The advantage of deploying applications onto SAPHANA is that their solution is completely scalable and while some companies might want to start with a smaller, simpler database for companies seeking to take advantage of Big Data this is not always a sensible option. It enables a customer POC to be built and deployed  and then SAP, as it hosts the environment will offer some marketing support for these new companies.

Founded in 2012 Bayshore Networks offers a software gateway that companies can utilise to enable their Industrial Internet platforms safely, provide a secure connection between IOT endpoints and industrial applications.  The company has already forged partnerships with AT&T, Cisco, VMWare and BAE Systems and was named a Gartner Cool Vendor and SINET 16 Innovator for 2015. Using SAPHANA it has developed the scalability needed despite still having less than 200 employees.

Capriza mobilises enterprise applications without development or API’s. Offering a complete solution to move business applications from legacy solutions to being mobile ready  through business workflows. The solution delivers analytics and security built on SAPHANA. What is interesting is that the solution has been deployed not just for legacy SAP applications but also for Oracle, PeopleSoft, Salesforce and several other custom built applications. Customers include Brocade (Oracle), Flex (SAP) and the City of Los Angeles (Custom solution).


In leveraging their platform and services SAP are far more than the advice and finances that many other technology companies are doing. Companies that utilise SAPHANA to deploy their Big Data solutions are unlikely to move off it. While SAP is pushing SAPHANA deployments through alliances with NTT and HP it may be that this program is the one that sees the in-memory database become more successful than anything else they do.

While there will no doubt be many startups that fail, the investment for SAP is small and often the individuals running these companies will look to invest again.  Those that are successful, like Bayshore Networks will help grow the utilisation of SAPHANA significantly. If SAPHANA helps with the creation of a few unicorns then their success is likely to be reflected back to SAPHANA.


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