Just returning from a visit to Bangalore and Mumbai, there is no doubt that the digital economy has long since arrived in India. It is not only one of the fastest growing regions within SAP worldwide, but home to the fastest growing ecosystem of startups and one of the most fertile ground for new businesses. According to the National Association of Software and Services Companies, the number of new companies launched in India grew by 40 percent over the last twelve months. On a global scale, India ranks third in technology startups and fifth in all startups globally.
But while India, according to the numbers, is now one of the most beneficial markets for startups, looking closer, we see three major shortcomings within the entrepreneurship ecosystem: a lack of access to risk capital, a weak network of mentors, and missing opportunities for startup or social enterprise acceleration.
To make India a nation of job creators in times where the workforce expands, the Government of India has taken action: In January 2016, the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, announced the Start-Up India Campaign and policy measures to support the development of the entrepreneurship ecosystem. The initiative is based on an action plan that includes aspects such as funding support and incentives, industry-academia partnerships, incubation, as well as exemptions from tax.
At SAP, we firmly believe that social businesses and social enterprises can be the significant drivers to contribute to the GDP of the economy while addressing unmet needs. As part of that, it is one of our aims to inspire, engage, define, and foster a social entrepreneurial ecosystem across the globe, and especially in emerging economies.
Facing and Solving Entrepreneurship Challenges
For years now, SAP has been instrumental in accelerating the growth of social enterprises through training and capacity building, mentorship, and technology enablement to social enterprises.
With dedicated programs, we address the pain points of early stage growth companies including strategy workshops, networking, leadership skills, and organizational growth strategies. We want to create a pipeline of investable startups and provide them with everything they need to succeed in today’s digital economy. So SAP’s vision, mission and perspectives for the entrepreneurship ecosystem are very much in line with those of the government and Prime Minister Modi.
This is why I was more than happy to announce the launch of SAP Startup Studio at our SAP Labs campus in Bengaluru (Bangalore). This accelerator program will provide mentoring, infrastructure, as well as technology support to up to ten seed and early stage startup companies. It will include a 75 seat incubator aimed at nurturing early stage startups within the domains of the Internet of Things, Big Data, Cloud, and verticals.
Startups will be incubated for a period of one year, coupled with a strongly knit mentorship program that extends beyond that. SAP Startup Studio will provide companies having an idea or early prototype with guidance and support in building their business through access to SAP’s huge ecosystem of customers and partners, experts, venture capitalists, technology visionaries and academia.
The aim of SAP Startup Studio is to support Indian startups with a complete ecosystem: guiding and mentoring them on technology and management and providing them with a work environment that also gives them access to SAP experts in their domains. SAP Startup Studio will serve as a catalyst to further accelerate the growth of startups, and I am convinced that it will significantly contribute to making India and its startup scene even stronger and even more successful.
Incubating the next generation of tech talents
We recognize and embrace our commitment to the countries and regions in which we operate – so our efforts when it comes to accelerating and enhancing entrepreneurship ecosystems do not stop at boarders or are limited to countries. Worldwide, we have initiatives in place that aim at fostering innovation and entrepreneurship – internally and externally.
One example is our SAP Intrapreneurship Program, a unique opportunity to explore, develop, and foster new business and technology opportunities to grow and drive organic innovation within SAP. Launched last year, so far more than 1,500 employees from all over the world submitted over 830 ideas to design business end-to-end around new products and become the founders of an internal startup. Five teams have validated their ideas in the market, two teams have been selected to incubate their ideas with seed funding from SAP, and eight more are just about to start validating.
SAP Startup Focus is a global program helping promising startups in the Big Data, predictive and real-time analytics space to develop new applications on SAP HANA. Participants benefit from immediate access to SAP HANA, training, technical experts, marketing and sales enablement support, opportunities to pitch to the venture community including Sapphire Ventures and its SAP HANA Real Time Fund, and a huge community of entrepreneurs, partners, investors and thought leaders.
These are only some examples of how innovation and incubation are integral parts of SAP’s business. We strongly believe in the outstanding value add of these kind of initiatives, and we believe in the power of small business and social enterprises to drive the innovation and job creation we need in today’s business environment. By fostering entrepreneurship and promoting innovation for growth and development, we provide today’s young people and tomorrow’s leaders with access to the tools and technologies they need to succeed in the digital economy.