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It couldn’t have been a better setting. The summer sun stood high above the SAP offices in Berlin Mitte and a clear blue sky promised a hot August day to the masses flocking Berlin’s streets. Hot was also the atmosphere inside the building that presents its bright glass facade to the corner of Rosenthaler Strasse and Gipsstrasse, but contrary to what you would expect and considering what was at stake, nobody was really sweating. I mean, yes, participants could walk away from this event with a year worth of SAP HANA licensing and in-depth support, including access to product architects. They most likely would also be invited to SAPPHIRE NOW and have SAP help them to get in contact with customers. Moreover, they would get a chance to pitch their idea to SAP Ventures. No, even though participants were fully aware of the qualities of the SAP HANA Startup Focus Program, nobody was sweating in the hot summer air. The rooms were rather filled with anticipation and spirit – the spirit of being part of something extraordinary. And so the SAP HANA Startup Forum Berlin unfolded on a fine Wednesday. The date is August 15, 2012.

The organizers (SAP together with the SAP Innovation Center in Potsdam) had managed to get 37 startups on-site, of which 35 vied to get selected for the HANA focus program. It included companies from all over Germany, and we even had a participant travelling all the way from Austria. The Berlin area was of course represented strongly among the startups, which was not just due to the location of the event. We also owe it to Berlin’s vibrant startup scene, arguably the biggest and dare I say best of Germany’s regional ecosystems for entrepreneurs. (I’m curious about the accuracy of this statement. Let me know in the comments, if you agree or disagree.)

While the geographical mix was biased, there was an equal distribution of companies across industries and maturity of their startup endeavour. The only thing that of course everyone had in common was a “big data challenge”. This is, after all, the reason for SAP to run such a series of startup forums in the context of HANA; bringing one young, revolutionary technology to the hands of many equally young and aspiring business ideas that match. It is like finding a play date for your children. You want to discover those pairings (or groupings) that get along well and stimulate each other in their development. “SAP HANA is a platform” (Aiaz Kazi, repeating someone in the audience after asking everyone what they think SAP HANA is) and “a platform is only as good as the applications that run on it” (Aiaz again, in his own words). The best way to build a large portfolio of applications is to assemble and connect a large amount of brilliant people. SAP alone is too small for that. What we will inevitably see is people with fresh ideas, especially entrepreneurs and developers in startups, forming the core of the HANA ecosystem and leading it to success. Both sides – SAP HANA and application developers – will share this success. Application developers are going to enable their business on SAP HANA whn they had no possibilities to do so before. HANA will thrive because of that. The two will grow up together and dream about conquering the world, like all children do when they are young, only this time you can be certain that many of them will.

For more information on the proceedings of the event and some of the presented “big data challenges” see the media coverage on SAP.com (en, de), SAP.info, Bloomberg and IS Report (in German).

Edit: Rukhshaan Omar wrote a lovely summary of the event: Phenomenal turnout for the SAP Startup Focus Forum in Berlin

If this post inspired you to become part of SAP’s HANA Startup Focus Program, checkout the upcoming events on experiencesaphana.com. And if you cannot wait to try out HANA yourself, come visit our SAP HANA Developer Center for a free developer version of HANA hosted on Amazon Web Services (additional cost incurred by Amazon). Hope to catch you around!

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