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SAP Achieves Goal of Supporting 200 Startups Founded or Led by Underrepresented Entrepreneurs Six Months Ahead of Schedule

SAP announced that it has supported 200 startups founded or led by a female or member of an underrepresented group as of July 2022. This is six months ahead of the initial goal of 2023.

In January 2019, SAP launched SAP.iO No Boundaries, the first comprehensive, inclusive entrepreneurship initiative for underrepresented and underestimated entrepreneurs in the business software industry. SAP recognized that diversity yields better innovation, but that most venture funding goes to startups founded or led by a very narrow demographic.

Therefore, SAP pledged to scale its global network of the no-equity-ask external startup program SAP.iO Foundries with a focus on inclusive entrepreneurship. SAP also set an ambitious target of supporting at least 200 startups founded or led by underrepresented entrepreneurs by 2023. To achieve this, the SAP.iO Foundries program has built a diverse team, communicated a clear startup sourcing process, participated in events and partnered with organizations that support underrepresented founders.

As a result, underrepresented startups now make up 44% of the portfolio of 450 startups in the SAP.iO program and tie or surpass their counterparts in benchmarks used to measure success. They represent:

  • 51% of the exits in the portfolio (18 out of 35)
  • 50% of the unicorns in the portfolio (2 out of 4)
  • 42% in cumulative venture capital raised by startups within the SAP.iO program (US$2.7 billion of $6.6 billion)
  • A greater likelihood to progress in their partnership with SAP

“SAP firmly believes talent is equally distributed globally and opportunity is not,” said Alexa Gorman, Global Head, SAP.iO Foundries and Intrapreneurship, SAP. “We are doing everything we can to provide more access to opportunity to founders everywhere while simultaneously adding incremental innovation and value for SAP customers.”

During the program, startups receive technical and go-to-market support to help them integrate with SAP and become part of a curated ecosystem where their offerings are easily accessible to SAP customers.

One of the most successful startups of the SAP.iO program is female-founded Censia Inc. Recently, Censia’s app was named an SAP endorsed app, a designation achieved by less than 1% of partner solutions offered on the SAP Store site. Censia augments HR management software provided by SAP with AI-powered resume review, passive sourcing and candidate evaluation software. Censia has successfully closed 14 go-to-market opportunities with SAP and major brands such as Tapestry Inc., TJ Maxx and PepsiCo Inc.

Joanna Riley, CEO of Censia, said, “I’m learning lessons that SAP has acquired through years of experience and applying them to my business so that we have a head start. I would recommend any company to look at SAP.iO as it is an invaluable resource for startups, especially ones focused on enterprises.”

The SAP.iO Foundries program plans to build on its momentum. By 2028, it wants 45% of its portfolio to be comprised of startups founded or led by people whose share of venture capital funding in the technology industry is proportionally less than their share of the population. This would be up from 40% in 2018.

The program works to achieve this goal by continuing with its winning execution strategy as well as adding geographical representation as a sourcing focus. For example, SAP.iO Foundries expanded to Latin America and the Caribbean in 2022 and will target specific countries in existing SAP.iO Foundries regions such as Nigeria, Pakistan and others.

To learn more about how SAP.iO is helping innovators start up and scale with SAP, please visit https://sap.io.

Inspiring Innovators: Riana Lynn CEO and Founder of Journey Foods, On being a serial entrepreneur

At SAP.iO, we work with innovative people and new technologies that positively impact our world every day, and we think it’s time to share their stories with you! In our series, “Inspiring Innovators,” we get to hear how founders, CEOs, presidents of cutting-edge startup technologies overcame, thrived, and pursued their goals. SAP.iO’s Alexa Gorman sat down to discuss the road to success and lessons learned with some of our most inspiring startup founders.

Meet Riana Lynn

Starting as a biology student in college building websites on the side, Riana Lynn was unknowingly launching her journey as a serial entrepreneur. Even as a kid, she knew she wanted to work on health issues to impact her community positively. Using her background in biology, she took an interest in larger food systems and how food affects our chronic diseases. Coming from a family of food entrepreneurs and farmers, it was no surprise that Riana’s first food company became one of the top juice bars in the country. After this accomplishment, she had the opportunity to work at the White House and even spent some time in Silicon Valley working for Google.

With all this experience to pull from, Riana set her sights on a new horizon, developing solutions that solve food science and supply chain inefficiencies. Riana shared with us that consumers spend $3 trillion a year on packaged foods and that research shows evidence that eating packaged foods is related to the increase in chronic diseases and poor mental health. Confident that we could change these problems with better science and data tools, Riana founded Journey Foods.

Journey Foods is a portfolio intelligence and lifecycle management software for food development and innovation. Their approach puts nutrition and sustainability at the forefront of product development, helping formulate products according to specific consumer and company goals. To further their impressive progress, Journey Foods builds integrations with companies like SAP to drive widespread impact quickly.

“I work on solving the most significant problems in food that effect my family, our communities, and the world.”

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GraphQL developer platform Hasura raises $100M Series C

Hasura, the company behind the popular open source Hasura GraphQL Engine that can turn virtually any database into a GraphQL API, today announced that it has raised a $100 million Series C funding round led by Greenoaks. Previous investors Nexus Venture Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Vertex Ventures also participated in this round, which brings the company’s total funding to $136.5 million and its valuation to $1 billion.

As Hasura CEO and co-founder Tanmai Gopal told me, the company has seen its growth accelerate over the course of the last 18 months since it raised its $25 million Series B round. As developers are increasingly tasked to build applications on top of an ever wider range of data sources, they are looking for a service like Hasura.

“The enterprise developer is just absolutely bogged down with complexity,” he said. “They’re just completely deadlocked. They’re like, ‘man, I have like a thousand models in this legacy data system. I have a bunch of new stuff that is ML/AI enriched in this new system. I have these legacy APIs. And all I really want to do is modernize my application screen so that somebody can see their billing history.’ […] What Hasura does, is say: We make this data access self-serve. We’ll automate this. We’ll give you an API that is flexible, it’s secure and it’s an API that you love — it’s a GraphQL API — and we’ll automate that.”

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In a League of their Own: How Female Leaders Help Power SAP Store

The COVID-19 pandemic has not been friendly to women in the workforce, setting gender parity efforts back by a generation or more, according to the World Economic Forum. However, while the pandemic has been punishing, it has helped bring attention to this widening disparity and caused us to acknowledge and celebrate the businesses, and especially the women, that are breaking gender barriers and striving for a more equitable working world.
For many years, SAP has been committed to eliminating gender inequality in support of our purpose – to help the world run better and improve people’s lives. SAP.iO – SAP’s strategic business unit to incubate, accelerate and scale startup innovation – is one of organizations working to establish equal opportunities for women. To do that, they launched the No Boundaries initiative, the first comprehensive inclusive entrepreneurship initiative in the business software industry. The program ensures that all innovators from all backgrounds are empowered to start-up with SAP. And it’s been a success: since 2019, 50% of the startups that have worked with SAP.iO have a female/underrepresented founder or CXO.

Celebrating Female-Founded Partner Companies on SAP Store

At SAP Store, we have had the privilege of seeing many of those women entrepreneurs launch their solutions on our online marketplace, including:
  • Ashley Crowder, CEO & Co-Founder, VNTANA: Ashley always loved engineering and art and 3D/AR/VR combined both of those interests. Her passion for the medium drove her to want to solve the most time-consuming problem: Automatic file optimization and management so creators could focus on creating amazing experiences. As a result, she launched VNTANA and the solution Automated 3D CMS, available on SAP Store.
  • Diane Keng, CEO & Co-Founder, Breinify: With her experience working at Apple and Symantec, Diane learned that technology and algorithms are a needed part of the business process in order to launch amazing consumer experiences. Additionally, personalization, especially with a pandemic, must continuously adapt and evolve. These insights drove her to launch Breinify and the solution Breinify AI for SAP Commerce Cloud, available on SAP Store.
  • Jan Bruce, CEO and Co-Founder, meQuilibrium: As a successful media executive, wife, and mother, Jan was having difficulty balancing her career with how exhausting and conflicting her life obligations were. With meQuilibrium, she created a tool that not only was useful to her but was also something that could help others – a behavior modification solution to help people manage how they think and react. The meQuilibrium solution, meQuilibrium Resilience Suite, is available on SAP Store.
Other amazing female founders and CXOs with solutions on SAP Store include:
These female entrepreneurs are not only visionaries in their industries but are also delivering innovative solutions that are bettering SAP Store. Yet they aren’t the only strong female leaders powering SAP’s digital marketplace.

Henkel : Idea Hackathon supports 100 early-stage female founders

The Henkel Xathon, an ideation hackathon for female founders, is taking place for the third time. The aim is to promote female entrepreneurs and talents in the technology industry, strengthen their business innovation and support them in building a relevant business network. The Xathon will take place in Berlin from November 12 to 14, 2021 as a hybrid event* in English. It is hosted by Henkel dx Ventures, Henkel’s platform for open innovation and collaboration, together with Global Digital Women.

 

One focus this year is on the rapidly accelerating D2C sector, influenced by changing consumer behaviors towards hyper-personalization across all channels.

 

At the Xathon, participants can take part in live workshops at four different locations in Berlin and digitally, watch keynotes, collaborate with top female experts, and further develop their business ideas. A total of 100 female talents will get the opportunity to participate in this year’s hackathon. Interested female founders can apply until October 10 at https://www.henkel.com/dx/xathon-2021. The main event partner of the Xathon 2021 is Global Digital Women. Further partners include SAP.iO and Microsoft.

 

Raising awareness for female empowerment

‘Diversity and gender equity are of strategic importance to us at Henkel. With the Xathon, we want to empower female entrepreneurship and support talented women in realizing their ideas and unfolding their full potential,’ says Sylvie Nicol, Chief Human Resources Officer at Henkel.

The Female Founder Monitor 2020 once again showed that targeted support for female founders is necessary: according to this, only 15.7 percent of all founders in Germany are female. Women entrepreneurs are particularly rare in the technology sector.

‘The figures show that the road to equality in the tech industry is still long. But there is much more than just figures: every year at our Xathon we see impressive and great ideas from female founders. For us, it is a privilege to experience and support this female entrepreneurial power in tech,’ says Michael Nilles, Chief Digital & Information Officer at Henkel. ‘I am truly convinced that innovation is built on diversity. That’s why we are very much looking forward to welcome 100 female founders and their early-stage business models.’

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Corporate investors hold the key to fostering inclusive entrepreneurship

Alarming headlines about women leaving the workforce during the pandemic abound. A quick Google on the topic will yield results including “How COVID-19 Sent Women’s Workforce Progress Backward”, “Women’s COVID-Fueled Exodus from the Workplace Hurts Us All”, “Why COVID-19 Could Force Millions of Women to Quit Work – and How to Support Them” from American Progress, Time and the Forum, respectively.

A side story which is not being so widely reported is how the pandemic reverse the meager gains women entrepreneurs have made in recent years.

In the US, it’s already happening. Pitchbook reports that in Q3 2020, quarterly venture capital funding for women founders dropped to a three-year low, even though overall venture capital activity was on a par with previous years. Between Q2 and Q3 last year, investment in women founders dropped 48%.

These losses make already dismal numbers worse. Women founder teams received only 4.3% of all venture capital deals in Q1 2020 – a drop from 7.1% in Q1 2019.

So far, investment levels in Europe are holding low but steady at 1.8% of venture capital going to all-women founder teams and 12.8% going to mixed-gender teams up until the end of October. But the threat of slippage in Europe – and globally – looms.

While COVID-specific dynamics have exacerbated the venture capital investment picture, women’s low representation on investment teams was already fueling the chronic opportunity gap. In 2019, just 3.4%of assets under management were held by women-founded VC firms, and only 3.8%were held by diverse-owned firms.

Rethinking and resetting the status quo on underrepresented entrepreneurs

The Forum’s Great Reset challenges us to rethink our economic, social and technological systems for a better world – to steer the market toward fairer outcomes, ensure that investments advance shared equality and sustainability, and harness the innovations of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to support the public good.

In such a context, corporations can activate their venturing funds, as well as accelerator, incubation and procurement programs to drive the changes required for the Great Reset, fostering inclusive entrepreneurship by:

  • Increasing the percentage of women and underrepresented groups on their investment teams
  • Increasing the percentage of investment (financial and non-financial) that goes to women and underrepresented entrepreneurs
  • Activating additional business levers to fuel scaling of businesses led by diverse teams

Focussing on women has multiple benefits

Investing in women pays huge dividends for everyone. In COVID-19 and Gender Equality: Countering the Regressive Effects, McKinsey estimated that acting now to advance gender equality could add $13 trillion to global GDP in 2030.

It also returns greater yields than less targeted investments. Over a five-year period, for every dollar venture capital invested, women-led or women co-founded startups generated 78 cents of revenue while male-led startups only generated 31 cents (Why Women-Owned Startups Are a Better Bet). What’s more, on average, companies with more diverse leadership teams report almost 20% higher revenue from innovation. (How Diverse Leadership Teams Boost Innovation).

We should therefore view investment in women entrepreneurs as a powerful catalyst for economic recovery.

Addressing the gap for women is only one step toward generating more equitable outcomes for all. We expect that most levers that help women can also contribute to wider diversity efforts. Further studies investigating variations in impact between underrepresented groups would be welcomed.

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Getting Energized to Level the Playing Field

A conversation with Amanda Niklaus, PPA Transaction Manager in the renewable industry.

The Road Less Traveled

What initially drew you to the energy industry?

During my Master’s studies, there was a mining boom in Australia. A lot of money was put into energy research, particularly for oil and gas. The Head of my university department suggested that I pursue mathematical economics in energy and work with some prestigious supervisors from the industry which I did. After graduation, I worked as an economist for the government and then in investment banking where we were looking at M&A opportunities. At the time, I found working within this very male-dominated industry a bit unsettling, and left for the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) where I worked on providing training for investors and traders and we looked at battery viability for participating in different markets. A lot happened and changed over the time I worked there and that is one of the elements I like about the power market sector: it’s very dynamic, constantly evolving.

When I came back to Switzerland, I read about Pexapark. They were very new at that time and had a lot of potential. I thought it would be exciting to work with a focus in renewables and to help developing a business. I was right — it’s so far been an incredible experience to be part of and contribute to Pexapark’s development and growth.

What’s the most satisfying part of your role at Pexapark?

I really enjoy working across markets and looking at different issues, that clients are encountering or questions they are trying to answer. While our business is very specialised, I feel like a request is never ever the same. It’s always new, there is so much to learn constantly!

What’s your secret sauce that you bring to work with you each day?

A ‘can do’ attitude and resilience.

Making Strides in Renewables

What thoughts are going through your head (if any) and what are you experiencing when you find yourself to be the only woman in the room?

That’s often the case to be honest. With clients, I do not let that disturb me, I cannot. Otherwise I am going nowhere. It is of course harder to ignore for someone who works in this environment every day. There are many studies about the ‘Onlys’ — referring to the only woman in a team. A notable one is from McKinsey, showing that women in this situation often receive judgement or doubt about their own area of expertise. They feel under a constant pressure to provide a proof of competence compared to their male colleagues. The sad part is that you don’t know if it was intentional, or it is just a dynamic of the competitive environment. That is not always clear. What is clear to me — there is a way to improve the situation. A more gender- balanced team is very important and I’d like to think I try my best to influence in that direction.

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Changing Our Perspective on Women Entrepreneurs

Slowly, but surely, glass ceilings around the world are beginning to crack and break. Although it is a slow progress, it is progress. We are not only finally seeing a change in the perception of women in business, but more specifically we are seeing a rise of women entrepreneurs. CEOs, Founders, Managers, and event organizers have begun to shine the spotlight on the underrepresented, which includes women entrepreneurs.

Ensuring all innovators, from all backgrounds are empowered to start-up with SAP, SAP.iO No Boundaries, the first comprehensive inclusive entrepreneurship initiative in the business software industry was created. Since 2019, 50% of the startups we’ve worked with have a female/underrepresented founder or CXO.

The SAP.iO Foundry Paris has supported 38 startups since late 2018. Of these companies, many have women in management positions. We recently had the opportunity to interview some of these female leaders and learn more about their unique experiences, operating in a world that is largely run by men. These entrepreneurs occupy a rare place today, they are part of only 16% of employees in the tech sector and only 8% of tech entrepreneurs.

We asked how they choose their career, their profession? What are their strengths? We found out that what they all have in common is that they dared to explore what they love. Out of desire, curiosity, need or conviction they chose a field in technology. They listened to their inner voice and considered what it is that they really enjoyed. Charlotte Fanneau, Director of Operations at Heuritech said, “I did not choose the job of Director of Operations, but the mission of putting cutting-edge technology at the service of the fashion industry.” All shared the desire to step out of their comfort zone, to learn “on the job”, to explore areas that were unfamiliar or that could not be learned in school. “To become Marketing Manager in a field that I did not know, I found similarities with sports training. I was curious, I trained on my own. I tested, I documented myself to create my own knowledge,” said Manon Pellet Marketing Manager at Hiboo.

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Celebrating Innovators Transforming Industries

In honor of International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating innovators in our global community that are transforming industries. We believe that diversity yields better innovation and are proud that 50% of the startups we work with have a female or underrepresented founder/CXO. To kick off the week, we caught up with Alexa Gorman, SVP of SAP.iO to learn about her journey in tech.

Alexa Gorman - BLN

What started you off on your road to tech?

I was always interested in tech and after completing my studies in business administration in France and Germany, I developed a keen interest in the possibilities that software offered to the business world. I started my career at SAP at a very exciting time for the tech industry, as it was just at the height of the Internet boom and the tech industry started changing the business landscape forever. It was the place to be and the place for me to make an impact! I haven’t regretted that decision once.

Who or what has been your greatest inspiration?

The greatest inspirations of my life are both of my parents. They started with little resources but a large desire to discover the world. They went early in their careers abroad, to England, Paris and the Caribbean (where I grew up), at a time when this wasn’t as normal or easy as it is today. It was a risky move and they had to work extra hard to succeed. It taught me early in my life to stay curious, be open minded to new things, to believe in myself and never stop learning!

What does your work involve and what would your typical day look like?

One of the great things about my work at SAP.iO is that rarely two days are the same, so there is fortunately no typical day. A big part of my role includes working with a great team around the globe to continuously improve the way SAP scouts for startups (internally and externally), accelerate the partnership journey with the startups to ultimately deliver more value to our key stakeholders, SAP’s customers.

What has been your best experience/ greatest success in your career?

The most fun I’ve had during my career was helping build SAP.iO. It is like working in a startup within a large corporation. We have a passionate team and a lot of freedom to continuously improve and experiment how to drive value for our customers, startups, and SAP. It’s incredible to see and learn from startup innovations and bring value and impact to our customers as well as back to SAP. Over the past 4 years we have grown from 2 locations to 9 across the world and been able to build something that is recognized as unique in our industry with multiple awards.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Be bolder and always question the limits you think are there. I’ve learned over time that most limitations only exist in our heads and once we overcome those ANYTHING is possible!

What do you hope to achieve and what is your vision for the future?

My vision for the future is a world in which diversity is no longer a topic but lived broadly – especially in the tech industry where we still have a long way to go.

Out now: Femventures – a podcast on adventurous women in tech

Femventures is a podcast by SAP.iO that brings you stories of women who are currently shaping the future of the tech industry. You will hear from women at SAP who are the heads of innovation departments, founded their own business or are running start-up accelerators inside the company. Hosts Lisa and Leonie put a spotlight on their experiences in a male-dominated field, and invite you to listen to them as they talk about overcoming challenges, taking risks and embracing failure. This show is an opportunity for people looking for actionable advice and inspiring female role models working in tech. Find us on openSAP, Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

Our first guest is Vanessa Liu, who dreamt of becoming an astronaut but became a tech entrepreneur instead. Tune in to get her insights on investing in female founders and the importance of role models (like her 79-year-old mom counting Cardi B among her clients).

Listen Now

Inspiring FinTech Females 2020: the Top 50 Women Transforming Financial Technology

NYC FinTech Women, an organization created to connect, empower and promote women to advance their careers in financial technology (FinTech), continues to celebrate and recognize women who are driving innovation, leading through difficult times and inspiring the community. In its second year, the Inspiring FinTech Females award recognizes 50 leaders who epitomize the organization’s mission to strengthen the ecosystem across five categories: Founders, Leaders, Money Movers, Network Builders and Product Builders.

“Women are often the ones fighting for equality and this list not only highlights the incredible talents but also celebrates the change agents working within the industry for us all to someday realize equality,” said Edwina Johnson, COO of Alloy & NYC FinTech Women Steering Committee Member. “These are not empty words or hollow pledges for change, these are the people making change happen and innovating the finance industry from a technology point of view and demographic point of view.”

“So many women are doing impactful work behind the scenes, it is time for a list like ours to celebrate them and bring them to the forefront,” added Larissa Carrera, Associate Director of LeFrak Investment Holdings & NYC FinTech Marketing Committee.

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The Eyes Have It: The Future Of Human-Machine Relations

Has this ever happened to you? Shopping for fresh vegetables at your local market when you notice that special someone across the aisle? And when your eyes lock, you know there is that kind of Mona Lisa smile directed at you behind the mask. You can’t help but feel the sparks fly and that something amazing is about to happen – just from a single look.

That’s what one company is planning to make happen in the workplace of the future. But with a twist! This kind of eye contact is all about making the daily work of employees more convenient, ergonomically-friendly, and even fun by controlling applications based on user intention – via eye tracking.

The future of human-machine interaction

Munich-based enterprise software company 4tiitoo is a leader in eye track interaction. Their mission – to make work more productive, healthy, and attractive to workers.

4tiitoo’s Natural User Interaction to all Applications software platform, or NUIA, revolutionizes the way people interact with devices by using machine learning to model eye control/tracking to predict user intention.

This kind of hands-free eye control provides increased efficiency and a better user experience for people (like me) glued to their workplace computer by reducing mouse-click interactions.

An escape from the perpetual mouse trap

This may be hard to believe, but the humble, ever-steadfast computer mouse is now over 50 years old. And let’s be honest. It has not evolved enough to address the enormously complex and rapidly evolving human-machine computing environments.

Think about it. 4tiitoo posits that an average user like you or I will make thousands of mouse clicks, maybe even tens of thousands, in a given work week and cover several kilometers a day of mouse movement.

With 20-30% a day spent on mouse interactions, user productivity is not what it could be. Plus, that little mouse is still not the healthiest of interfaces to use in terms of repetitive motion stress.

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Venture capital funding bias: Why VC business-as-usual must change

Business as usual. For some, this is a welcome relief. On the contrary, for many underrepresented founders, when VCs utter that phrase, it’s not always welcome news. Venture capital funding bias is a very real, and very big problem in tech.

Quite candidly, as a first-generation immigrant and woman working with startups for over a decade, it’s very hard to overlook the fact that in 2020 women and people of color continue to be in the large minority when it comes to receiving VC (venture capital) funding and support.

This must change.

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Henkel hosts ideation hackathon for female entrepreneurs

Henkel’s open innovation and collaboration platform, Henkel dx Ventures, will host its second Xathon, a female ideation hackathon. This year’s main partner is “Global Digital Women”. The hackathon aims to empower female tech talents to develop and shape their entrepreneurial mindset and ideas. It will take place on November 20-22, 2020. The application period is now open and closes on October 30. Interested participants can apply at www.henkel.com/digital-business/xathon-2020.

With the Xathon, Henkel wants to advocate female entrepreneurship, promote innovative ideas and drive gender diversity in the start-up and tech scene. In total, 60 female talents will get the chance to participate in this year’s event. Further partners of the Xathon 2020 are accelerateHer, SAP’s early stage venture arm SAP.iO and MVP Factory.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Xathon is going to take place as a virtual event.

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SAP.iO No Boundaries Partners with Les Déterminés to Support Entrepreneurship in Working-Class Neighborhoods and Rural Areas

SAP France announces that its SAP.iO Foundry Paris accelerator is supporting the 12th promotion of the association Les Déterminés, whose mission is to develop entrepreneurship in working-class neighborhoods and rural areas. As part of this partnership, SAP.iO Foundry Paris is committed to making its premises and the expertise of its employees available to support the 20 entrepreneurs in its new promotion, selected from more than 470 candidates. 

Learn more