2020 was a year of unprecedented change. Unlike many other disruptions weathered in the past, COVID-19 became an existential challenge to the way we work and live. Execution of previously well-crafted business strategies was paused as leaders considered how to adapt to the urgency of the moment.
In response, businesses accelerated their investments in digital transformation across the enterprise – from digital experience, to supply chain, to collaboration and talent management. Businesses took the COVID-19 crisis as a catalyst to become more customer-centric and more agile, and as an opportunity to look for innovation that would “future-proof” their operations. And increasingly, businesses looked at startups for these future-proofing innovations.
In turn, SAP.iO experienced an increase in engagement from customers seeking support and guidance and to be connected to the most relevant startup innovation. To serve this demand – we pivoted our own operational approach to running entirely virtually so customers and startups could experience the same (or even higher) level of benefit as before, seamlessly. SAP.iO Foundries continued to operate thematically and supported startups from all over the world – enabling SAP customers local to a Foundry to be connected to the best global startup innovation. And SAP customers took a greater role in the Foundries, actively participating in startup cohort selection, in mentorship during a program, and in piloting and procuring startup solutions.
As a result – despite the pandemic – SAP.iO accelerated 111 startups (36% more than 2019!) across our global network of 9 SAP.iO Foundries and launched a new SAP.iO Foundry in Bangalore. Additionally, we continued to drive change through SAP.iO No Boundaries – our industry-leading commitment to support underrepresented founders in B2B software.
More than 500 customers engaged with SAP.iO Foundry startups to get connected to the most relevant startups who could quickly provide value, especially in an existing SAP environment. More than 400 press articles were written about SAP.iO and supported startups in The Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch, and VentureBeat. We were recognized as Winner of the Corporate Startup Accelerator Award and named among the World’s Top 25 Startup-Friendly Companies by Mind the Bridge and the International Chamber of Commerce. And startup solution value was emphatically validated by SAP customers who procured at least 88 SAP.iO startup solutions, many through the SAP App Center, including several deals that were 7-figures in size.
We look forward to 2021, as we collectively come out of the pandemic, and continue to focus on the “Win-Win-Win” – value to customers, benefit to startups and strategic impact for SAP. We thank you, our community – partners, startups, investors, mentors, and employees – for your unwavering support in helping us build the most innovative and inclusive ecosystem that delivers valuable outcomes for SAP’s customers.
SVP & Managing Director, SAP.iO