SAP innovation centre in Singapore targeting startups, among others

  • Entrepreneurs get access to SAP technology, market access boost
  • Expands university partnerships to nurture young talent in technology
SAP innovation centre in Singapore targeting startups, among others

SAP SE said it will establish an SAP Innovation Centre in Singapore by the end of 2014, focusing on smart cities, healthcare, digital consumers, and what it calls ‘Industry 4.0’ technologies.
In an increasingly networked economy powered by smart devices, the centre aims to foster local economic opportunities by identifying untapped market and customer needs, and creating new innovative, user-centric products, the German tech giant said in a statement.
This would involve ‘co-innovation’ with SAP customers and partners, as well as research collaboration with local universities.
The Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) welcomed SAP’s expanded presence in Singapore.
“By providing co-innovation opportunities, the new Innovation Centre will enable companies to pursue their desired digital transformation strategies from Singapore,” said EDB deputy managing director Quek Swee Kuan.
“This builds on SAP’s active talent development efforts to leverage the capabilities of Singaporean students and researchers, and marks a deepening of our partnership,” he added.
The centre will also provide local startups with the latest technologies and offer market access to expand their reach, SAP said. The initiative comes as the company celebrates its 25th year in the region.
“Asia Pacific is a fast-growing region. We are now entering the era of the Internet of Things (IoT) with the rapid growth of smart, connected devices and systems to meet the changing demands of today’s consumers,” said Adaire Fox-Martin, president of SAP Asia Pacific Japan (APJ).
“As we embrace a networked, technology-driven innovative economy, we will focus on accelerating industry growth in public services, healthcare, financial services and retail.
“Building on our 25-year presence in the region, we look forward to continued commitment and close collaboration with customers, partners, governments and universities throughout Asia Pacific, to drive innovation and skills development,” she said in the statement issued by SAP.
SAP is also tapping on the increasingly vibrant IT ecosystem across the region to identify ideas at an early stage and leverage access to a large pool of the brightest young talent.
Under the SAP University Alliances Student Entrepreneurship programme, students can develop new solutions across SAP’s technologies leveraging in-memory platform SAP HANA, the SAP Mobile Platform, and analytics capabilities.
The students will gain access to these technologies, SAP experts, mentors and an entrepreneurship curriculum.
Launched globally in March, the Student Entrepreneurship programme was recently announced in Australia, Singapore and India and will be introduced in Japan and South Korea later this year.
Startup energy, youthful passion
SAP innovation centre in Singapore targeting startups, among others 
Speaking to Digital News Asia (DNA), Fox-Martin (pic) said that across Asia Pacific, excluding China, SAP has 15 different types of investment in the form of research and development labs, and innovation centres.
Much of the company’s development work comes out of its facilities in India as well, but one important component of its innovation mission lies in the work SAP does with startups.
She shared that during a breakfast meeting held on International Youth Day recently, she asked five SAP interns whether they would consider working for the company upon graduation.
“Three out of five said they wouldn’t,” she said. “They said that once they graduate, they intend to start their own businesses.”
Another lesson she learned was the fact that ‘millennials’ do not take to early breakfast meetings particularly well, she added with a chuckle.
Fox-Martin said that she finds this shift toward entrepreneurship both fascinating and inspiring, and of course does not begrudge those interns for not wanting to join SAP’s ranks.
It also helps that in the future, there is a chance that those very entrepreneurs would be calling SAP a partner.
The company has been expanding its SAP Student Entrepreneurship programme in Asia, most recently with the BMS College of Engineering (BMSCE) in Bangalore, Fox-Martin said.
It offers comprehensive support for students who want to start businesses that develop real-time solutions and big data applications using SAP as a platform, and is an extension of the SAP University Alliances programme that has more than 1,500 member institutions globally, she added.
“What we offer is not just access to our HANA platform to build products on top of, but also support from experts, and help with marketing and commercialisation as well,” Fox-Martin said.
“It’s exciting for me, and a hot bed of new ideas and ways of thinking powered by such high levels of passion and enthusiasm.
“What I really enjoy about the views these young people have when it comes to building their startups is that it’s a view that’s not just commercial but socially-orientated as well – working towards what they can do to genuinely make people’s lives better – and there’s a huge opportunity to do that in Asia Pacific,” she added.
Fox-Martin said that it also resonated with SAP’s mission statement of “running the world better” and it is up to companies like SAP to see how best to help these up-and-coming startups.
STEM thrust
Meanwhile, the company said that annually, over 2,000 tertiary students in Singapore benefit from the SAP University Alliances programme.
Also, through a ‘Young Thinkers’ programme, SAP is also expanding its university partnerships to stimulate interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) in youth, and to address the skills shortage and encourage entrepreneurial thinking.
Across Asia Pacific, this experiential learning programme involves secondary/K-12 schools, government agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Singapore, India and Australia to help youth understand the benefits brought about by big data today and its impact on societies, businesses and everyday life, the company said.
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