JapanSAP has announced the launch of the first SAP.iO Foundry in Japan with five members of the initial cohort. SAP.iO is a startup incubator that provides a select group of startups with mentorship and access to SAP technology over a period of 12 weeks. The cohort will also take advantage of the newly opened SAP Leonardo Experience centre and Inspired.Lab in Japan.

Ram Jambunathan, senior vice president and SAP.iO managing director (Image credit Linkedin)
Ram Jambunathan, Senior Vice President and SAP.iO Managing Director

Ram Jambunathan, Senior Vice President and SAP.iO Managing Director commented:  “We see great potential in Tokyo as a startup hub for SAP customer-centric innovation and look forward to helping these entrepreneurs deliver winning outcomes and delightful experiences for SAP’s customers.”

Tokyo is the latest city to experience the SAP.iO Foundry, the full list is:

Who is in the inaugural cohort?

SAP has listed five members of the initial cohort. They include a mix of applications, only three are Japanese though.

  • ZENKIGEN: Founded in April 2019 in Japan, Zenkigen provides a web/video interview platform named Harutaka. Its aim is to remove the challenges of time and location from the interview process through an online interview portal. Interviews are held either live or recorded and are enhanced by artificial intelligence. The AI offers sentiment analysis of voice and facial recognition through recorded video. This delivers insights to interviewers that they may have missed.
  • estie: Another Japanese startup, launched in December 2018 it offers a real estate search engine underpinned with AI. Its aim is to match those companies with the most suitable premises using several factors. It brings together the available leases across real estate brokers and uses AI matching algorithms to allocate to potential tenants.
  • Innovia: Having recently raised ¥120 million in funding, this Japanese startup provides a SaaS solution that provides a training and development platform for workers. Initially employees of manufacturing, engineering, and IT industries can manage qualifications, skills and receive education through the platform. Initially supporting Japanese and English it hopes to offer Chinese and Thai translations in due course. Tied to SAP.iO should enable it to reach SAP customers in the manufacturing sector especially.

The non Asian contigent

Two of the initial cohort are not Japanese, they are:

  • InstaVR: Provides a virtual reality (VR) authoring solution that is already in use by a large number of companies. It has also raised $7 million in funding according to Crunchbase. The focus for it as part of the SAP.iO Foundry is to deliver its solution across the SAP software suite. Its aim is to bring VR authoring to SAP solutions to enhance: employee training, employee recruitment, sales & marketing presentations. However, this startup is based in San Francisco and is a slightly odd inclusion in a list that one might have expected to be filled with Asian companies.
  • fuzed.link: A London based startup that provides a lead generation tool tied initially to Instagram. It allows companies to better understand their audience and to create improved landing pages. It also provides dashboards that deliver insights on usage about the audience.

Enterprise Times: What does this mean

That the SAP.iO Foundry has come to Japan is good news. However, that there are only three Japanese startups in the initial cohort is surprising. With an American and British startup involved in this initial cohort is unexpected. However, if those startups see a huge opportunity in Japan for their product then this might be a reason for their inclusion. This would be a good thing, as SAP can offer the companies not only the benefits of its technology expertise but also contacts in its local client base. What will be interesting to see is whether more Japanese and Asian companies are able to join SAP.iO Foundries in other countries in the future.


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