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SAP Startup Focus SAPPHIRE NOW and ASUG 2015 in Review

Written by Emily Breslin

May 4-7–marked SAP’s annual SAPPHIRENOW + ASUG annual conference in Orlando, Florida. With over 17,000 customers, partners and employees in attendance this year, the conference provided plenty of action for participants. For the SAP Startup Focus team, the conference provided this and more, including unprecedented engagement with SAP’s premier customer user group-ASUG, potential new customers, SAP’s executive leadership, and SAP’s strategic industries. 37 Startup Focus members with validated solutions running on SAP HANA and twelve of their customers participated during the week in a series of startup solution showcases, customer and industry-specific meetings, and executive engagements with SAP leadership.

For the months leading up to the conference, the team worked tirelessly to ensure maximum engagement and visibility for attending startups and select customers. The varied engagements between Startup Focus, startups, customers, and SAP that took place during the week is a clear indication that the team delivered both visibility and leads to startups as well as access to the innovation pipeline to the larger SAP ecosystem.

Highlights from the week are listed below, as they relate to SAP and the startups charging the way towards a future of cutting edge technology.


During the keynote addresses given by SAP’s executive leadership, several themes emerged directly related to the Startup Focus charter and the startup solutions coming out of the program, including designing impactful technologies by leveraging S/4HANA, the benefits of running applications on the HANA Cloud Platform, and the significance of the internet of things to SAP’s enterprise customers.

During his keynote, Dr. Hasso Plattner illustrated how S/4HANA enables a completely different set of applications, including how its in-memory capabilities have enhanced what is possible in cancer research development at the National Center for Tumor Diseases in Heidelberg, Germany. The platform’s health enablement is similar to what Startup Focus member and conference attendee Convergence CT is doing to drive better health outcomes by leveraging SAP HANA to drive real time insights for a major Chicago-based health system.

The HANA Cloud Platform is a strategic differentiator in SAP’s product offering as noted by Bernd Leukert and Quentin Clark during their respective keynote addresses, during which it was announced that Siemens had selected HCP as their cloud platform for IoT. The new partnership mirrors the parallel work being done by the Startup Focus team around bringing new IoT applications and services into the company. Many of program’s IoT members were in attendance, including SeeControl, Falkonry, MyOmega, Twirl Analytics, Vnomic, Itizzimo, and AppOrchid.

Lastly, CEO Bill McDermott explained that the companies of today need to combat their dark data and data museums by leveraging new technologies like S/4HANA in order to expose what processes and patterns can be exploited to drive better decisions and ROI. On this same front, many of the startups in attendance offer complementary solutions for organizations aimed at becoming more data driven, including Celonis, BeyondCore, SearchYourCloud, Trufa as well as startups with specific industry focus, Liquid Analytics (food & beverage), Espedia (Fashion & Apparel), Mateo Protect (Insurance), and Flutura (Oil & Gas).

Consistently woven through the week’s keynotes, executive press conferences and media engagements was the topic of startups. Bill McDermott stated that with over 2,000 existing startup partners, SAP will only increase its commitment to allotting needed resources and investment to them moving forward. On the topic of the HANA platform, Chairman Hasso Plattner remarked that having 2,000 startups voting for SAP HANA is a clear validation of the platform. Later, he commented that the demonstrated efficacy of Startup Focus program is a key example of how SAP is successfully working with SMEs.

Executive Engagement

Throughout the week, PT 426 became the hot spot for SAP executive leadership appearances from Chief Operating Officer, Tanya Reuckert, Chief Marketing Officer, Maggie Chan Jones, and Chief Technology Officer Quentin Clark. On Tuesday, 12 startups were invited to meet with Bill Mcdermott to give brief overviews of their solutions. Most of the meeting, however, was spent identifying new ways that SAP can become a better partner to startups moving forward. Later in the week, several startups met with President of Platform Solutions, Steve Lucas to talk about even more involvement in SAP’s upcoming conferences like TechEd.  Board members Marco Lenck and Andreas Oczko from German’s business user group-DSAG stopped by the booth to show their support and interest in the program.

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Maggie Chan Jones, SAP CMO receives a product demo by BeyondCore Founder Arijit Sengupta.

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SAP CTO Quentin Clark stops by the Startup Focus booth to talk candidly with startups about the potential and actualized benefit of startup solutions for SAP.

Customer and Industry engagement

In addition to the select customers who attended with their startup partners (Cargill + BeyondCore, ConvergenceCT + Advocate Health), other notable engagements took place as a result of ongoing collaborative efforts between ASUG and Startup Focus.

At the outset of the week, 12 Startup Focus members participated in the Executive Exchange session hosted by ASUG, bringing together top level executives and startups during a showcase of solution pitches and the launch of the Customer Startup Network pilot.

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During the months leading up to the conference, the Startup Focus team worked tirelessly to create a framework that could facilitate ongoing and deep engagement between startups and customers. The outcome, described during the executive exchange session by a startup customer, is the opportunity to use customer data to unearth key insights that drive better organization outcomes. The pilot project represents the overarching vision for the Customer Startup Network pilot: to give mature startups in the program access to customer data to drive solutions that address customers’ direct business needs.

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Tuesday through Thursday, 21 startups presented their solutions in the ASUG hub during Future of X and Bringing Startup Innovation to the Enterprise sessions. Presenting startups showcased validated solutions across SAP’s industries, highlighting everything from disruptive trends in fashion & apparel, new market-changing solutions like process mining, smart data discovery using HANA, discovering locked cash in enterprises, and new enterprise search capabilities.

The SAP Startup Focus HANA Innovation Award Tuesday evening was designed to recognize startups delivering SAP HANA solutions that drive business value. Startup Focus members AppOrchid, APX Labs, and Wittos were finalists for the Most Innovative category, Convergence CT and Opal Analytics were finalists for Most Social Impact, and Celonis, OpsVeda, and SearchYourCloud were finalists for Most Transformative. At the end of the evening, AppOrchid, Celonis and Opal Analytics  were announced the winners of their categories, having been identified by the executive judging panel as the most positive change makers in their fields.


  • Dr. Hasso Plattner announced 2000+ startups in the SAP Startup Focus program and challenged the team to double the number by SAPPHIRE NOW 2016
  • ASUG Executive Director Geoff Scott made a formal announcement about the CSUN pilot project led by Startup Focus during his keynote address.
  • Chief Technology Officer Quentin Clark announced 175 validated solutions running on HANA
  • Celonis, AppOrchid, and Opal Analytics were announced as the HANA Innovation Award winners as the most transformative, most innovative, and most socially impactful solutions running on SAP HANA.
  • SAP’s Customer Central team based out of Waldorf, Germany selected Advocate Health and Genentech as two of the most compelling customer use cases utilizing SAP HANA. The two SAP customers were filmed alongside their respective startups, Convergence CT and OpsVeda.

With an immensely successful SAPPHIRE under the team’s belt, the energy will fuel subsequent forum events, validation of new HANA-powered solutions, and community engagement with new HANA platform stakeholders. To everyone who worked towards a successful SAPPHIRE this year and to those who showed their support in Orlando, a great deal of appreciation is due. If the achievement of SAPPHIRENOW is any indication of what the team is capable of, Startup Focus will only continue to relentlessly execute for the remainder of 2015.

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