German software giant SAP SE, which earlier this year launched a global $35 million fund to invest in tech startups, plans to increase its investments in 2018 and aims to close nearly twice the number of deals it signed in 2017, a top company executive said.
SAP will tap the world’s most innovative startup ecosystems, including the Silicon Valley and Israel, for the next big ideas in the technology products space, Ram Jambunathan, senior vice president and managing director of the $35 million SAP.iO fund, said in a phone interview.
“SAP has the bold vision to be the business software leader in the next generation of the cloud and digitization era. To achieve this, SAP has realized that it needs to embrace innovation deeply, because successful software companies that have achieved sustained success…have invested in ground-breaking innovation beyond incremental customer requirements ,” said Jambunathan.
SAP.iO also runs a separate, joint-accelerator programme with US-based Techstars Accelerator called SAP.iO Foundry in Berlin. This year’s batch of 10 startups include five early-stage ventures from India—Praktice.ai, Sustanalyze, Greendeck, Bewgle and RefineAi.
The Berlin-based Foundry accelerator program, which is currently also present in cities such as San Francisco, New York and Tel Aviv, typically focuses on mentoring startups that are building disruptive solutions in areas such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and Internet of Things. SAP.iO Foundry held its annual demo day for startups on Wednesday.
The SAP.iO fund makes direct equity investments of $150,000-250,000 in early-stage startups.
The fund invested in an Indian startup called Niki.Ai. earlier this year, and Jambunathan did not rule out SAP backing more Indian startups in the future, given the depth and breadth of the Indian startup ecosystem.
“Obviously, India is a very important market from a customer standpoint and an innovation standpoint and we have significant presence within India as well. We’ll continue to look for opportunities to invest in India and startups to support through our Foundry network,” said Jambunathan.
By the end of 2017, Jambunathan said SAP.iO would look to back at least 8-10 early-stage ventures, spending $1.5-$3 million in total from the fund.
“Next year, we will look to double that figure (of the number of investments),” he said.