SAP is attempting to spur adoption of its HANA in-memory database platform among smaller UK firms with the introduction of a start-up investment programme aimed at highlighting the benefits of big data analysis.
The German firm hosted an event at University College London (UCL) this week, inviting start-up companies to pitch for mentorship, development and investment as part of the global SAP Startup Focus intiative.
Those selected for the business accelerator are invited to develop a proof of concept to exhibit how they would use HANA as part of their business, before receiving financial investment and assistance in commercialising their products in a go-to-market phase. Following this, SAP says it will also offer to open up its contacts book, with some start-up participants meeting with SAP's Fortune 500 clients.
So far, 640 start-ups across 23 countries have entered the programme, which has run for 18 months with the backing of SAP chief technology officer Vishal Sikka. SAP was unable to reveal the levels of investment to date, or how many of the start-ups involved have actually received funding.
The two-day event held at the London university is the first time the project has reached out to UK start-ups.
"It is a massive new direction for SAP that came about particularly since we moved away from just offering business applications and into technologies like HANA," said Gary Parnell, head of global start-up recruiting, SAP Startup Focus.
"These technologies are ideal for start-ups to build really innovative new applications rather than just what we have been involved in previously. That is why we have moved in this direction, and it is exciting from SAP's perspective, so I hope start-ups feel the same way about working with SAP."
He added: "SAP has invested a lot of time into HANA. So yes, [part of the aim of the programme] is to make sure that we are telling the story not just to the large enterprise, but to the start-ups as well."
While the project is aimed at offering assistance to the start-ups, it is as much SAP's marketing pitch to the companies (some of those involved have little or no knowledge of the in-memory database platform) as it is the start-up companies vying for the vendor's support. Once the start-up starts bringing in money they are required to buy a HANA license.
Despite quick growth, two-year old HANA is still a small part of SAP's revenues, which are largely based on its sales of enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. However the company is attempting to convince smaller firms that the big data-crunching platform is not purely a large enterprise play. SAP recently announced a mid-market customer which was spending just over £100,000 on shifting to HANA -its first UK customer running BusinessOne on the in-memory database - while, globally, the firm is attempting to make the platform more accessible through partnerships with other vendors like HP and system integrators such as Accenture.
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