Author Archives: Frances Roche

Frances Roche

About Frances Roche

Senior Marketing Specialist, MSc Design Innovation

Join us in Berlin on February 7th!

By Frances Roche January 24, 2017

Welcome to 2017 Startups!


This year the Startup Focus Programme will kick off their European forums in Berlin on February 7th, hosted at the Data Space by SAP.  The DATA SPACE is SAP’s flagship space in Berlin. It is a space to meet, work, and eat together in a stimulating and innovative environment. Offering a physical handshake with innovators, change makers, partners, startups, artists, Berlin’s multifaceted community, and all people interested in Digital Transformation. The DATA SPACE is build up out of four interconnected areas: DATA HALL, DATA KITCHEN, DATA HUB, and DATA ROOM.


2016 was an incredible year for the Startup Focus Programme, where startups engaged has now topped 4,300. 825 are now actively developing on SAP Technology and almost 250 solutions are now validated and available to customers.  Our startups are innovating across all sectors (pharma, healthcare, manufacturing) and developing solutions in process mining, wearables and IoT to name a few.  Learn more from Director of Engagement for EMEA, Gary Parnell, on how your startup will benefit from joining our programme.


Featuring a key note address by one of our most successful graduates of the programme, Sablono, co founder Lukas Olbrich will detail the journey of a startup who has engaged with SAP and continuously innovates on SAP HANA.  Sablono’s software is designed specifically for project controllers, managers, owners, and construction companies. The mobile app solution allows the user to easily track progress across areas of multiple construction sites. The user can control the development of a project by recording the progress of all individual activities that are being executed on site


Also on the agenda is Otto Birnbaum, Principal at ParTech Ventures, who will delve into the opportunities and advantages of being a startup in Berlin right now and especially in the wake of Brexit.  Partech Ventures is a transatlantic venture capital firm, with offices in
San Francisco, Paris and Berlin, who invest from $200K to $50M in technology companies from seed to growth stage.

Join us in Berlin by registering at


Learn More:

Follow Us: @SAPStartups

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SFP Team Members in Ireland take part in Strictly SAP to raise money for Charity

By Frances Roche December 14, 2016

At this time of year people will often start to look at what they are thankful for and to try and give back to the community.  SAP Colleagues are encouraged to partner with underprivileged beneficiaries in our local communities and actively participate in supporting charities and causes through employee volunteering activities.  And while this takes place throughout the year, but even more so during the dedicated Month of Service, each October.

After just seven weeks of training, on Friday 28th October, 28 Dublin SAP employees took to the stage in the biggest fundraising event ever in SAP Ireland, Strictly SAP, or as it might be known a SAP version of Dancing with the Stars. And among that 28, were two very nervous Startup Focus Programme team members based in Dublin, Gary Parnell, Director of Onboarding and Engagement and Frances Roche, Global Startup Forums.

Early in September all the dancers were assessed by the trained choreographers and then partnered off – no professional dancers, only a mix of colleagues!!  Each pair were assigned a dance style and music and spent the next 7 weeks learning to waltz, salsa, tango or samba, but all 28 had to learn a group dance to get the evening started.

By the time the event rolled round, it was totally sold out and the nerves started to kick in!  The opening number to “Dance” by Justin Timberlake, from the new movie Trolls performed by all the dancers had the 900 strong audience on their feet from start to finish and then it was on to the main event!

Unfortunately, our duo were not partnered together and instead had to compete against each other for the coveted Glitter Ball Trophy.

Gary looking extremely suave in his tails, performed a show stopping American Smooth to Shirley Bassey’s “Big Spender” with his partner Aine, and brought the house down with his Fred Astaire like elegance.  The talented pair even scored full marks from the judging panel.

With her partner Alexi, Frances took to the floor to dance the Argentine Tango to Tina Turner’s “Goldeneye” including a very ambitious lift midway – which thankfully landed safely.  And while most other dancers were encouraged to smile throughout the performance, keeping in character throughout the dance, earned high praise from the judges.

Although the top prize on the night went to another couple who danced a very energetic Charleston – both Gary & Frances were delighted to have taken part in such a fantastic event.  Money was raised from a mixture of sponsorship, ticket sales and audience votes on the night, and of course was the most important element of the night – with a fantastic donation of €42,372 being made to the Irish Charity Aware which works with people suffering from depression and mental health problems.

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Bright & shiny Barcelona for SAP HANA Startups @Smart City Expo World Congress 2016

By Frances Roche November 30, 2016

Created by Maria Luisa Silva, Director Market Enablement & GTM, EMEA – SAP Startup Focus



Last week’s Smart City Expo World Congress (SCEWC) in Barcelona was truly impressive, undoubtedly the largest in its history (16000+ visitors, almost 600 exhibitors and 600+ cities) and together with SAP Public Sector extended team, Startup Focus was honored to participate, showcasing relevant startups. This year’s congress theme was “Cities for Citizens” where design, added value and personalized services, mobility and citizen engagement were strong topics.


SAP Startup Focus invited five innovative and promising SAP HANA startups to join SAP and showcase at the “Startup Corner” of our stand, as follows:

  • From Switzerland, Enersis, showcasing their Smart Heat solution that enables cities or organisations to achieve CO2 emission reduction targets
  • Incelligent, a Greek booming startup focusing in network optimization and intelligence enabling cities or organisations to provide better services and engagement with citizens
  • Sablono, a Berlin-based startup shaping the future of project management with an advanced and unique solution that manages and tracks complex construction projects to the smallest detail in real-time
  • Visual NACert, a local startup (from spain) that offers an innovative platform for digital farming, providing efficiency and profitability for agribusiness ecosystem, and
  • Wittos directly from the UK, providing “intelligent” customer engagement via wifi networks, in this case showcasing a rail travel project, jointly with the UK government, to enhance passenger experience for travellers on trains.


Despite the strong diversity in the nature of these solutions, these companies have a common goal: Be front runners in shaping the way the world and cities will run, not just fast but also intelligent. The startups showcases, jointly with the excitement and dedication of each of their representatives were a catalyst for customer and partner engagement with very interesting results. Overall throughout the 3 full days (and nights) of the congress, these small and agile 5 companies have identified +80 business leads that will now require follow up and nurturing to mature into effective contracts. Let’s get moving!! The sowed seeds need nurturing, so the harvest can be abundant.

But the congress, and SAP’s presence, was not only about SAP’s and its partners offerings for cities. It was also about understanding how cities themselves are leading this path into the future. In a remarkable roundtable hosted at the SAP stand on Thursday, Nov 17th and moderated by former Mayor Stephen Goldsmith of Harvard, we had the opportunity hear and learn from CIO’s and representatives of some of the cutting edge cities/organisations: federal government, Chicago, NYC, San Francisco and Atlanta from the USA, plus Wolfsburg, Rotterdam, Buenos Aires and Cape Town were the stars.

The roundtable’s main topic was data innovation in context of City management. Questions about the principles of open data, data privacy and citizen enriched services were all on the table. It was interesting to hear how an open data approach can be fast and smooth to destroy the data silos between different city departments. At the same time, we listened to different positions regarding the deployment approach: big bang and let the citizens use the imagination on how to use the data available. Or define what areas you want to disclose guiding the citizens and startups on what they can do with the data. It was great insight and an eye opener to the achievements of frontrunners and the diversity of policies the cities can and are taking.

Allow me to conclude by thanking all HANA startups involved and also the SAP Public sector extended expert team that created once more a great collaboration atmosphere at this event, supporting everyone to the smallest detail and openly welcoming our startups. We are looking forward to achieving even more next year!

Finally a big thank you to the overall Startup Focus team that supported on-site the full week intense dynamics of running two parallel events: Frances Roche, Gina Salluzi and Gary Parnell. We couldn’t have done this without you guys.



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The Rise of Innovation in South Korea, and SAP Startup Focus’ Programme first ever forum at the new AppHaus

By Frances Roche November 30, 2016

Innovation and technology are the key factors that have underpinned South Korean export competitiveness and fueled the country’s remarkable economic rise over the past decades, as well as transforming it’s a generation within a generation The growth rate has been so impressive that the East Asian nation went from being one of the poorest countries in the 1960s to becoming the world’s 13th largest economy in 2014, according to the World Bank.

And Seoul recognizes that the need for developing new ideas is now more important than ever, as neighboring China, the largest importer of South Korean goods, has begun moving away from a labor-intense and low-value production towards higher value-added manufacturing.

A world class innovator

As a result, the country is investing much more in research and development (R&D) as a share of GDP than other advanced economies.

According to a recent Bloomberg report, South Korea notched top scores worldwide for manufacturing value-added as well as for tertiary efficiency – a measure that includes enrollment in higher education and the concentration of science and engineering graduates. In addition, the 2016 Bloomberg Innovation Index ranked the country as having the world’s most innovative economy, ahead of Germany, Sweden, Japan and Switzerland. The index evaluated nations according to six different categories, including R&D, high-tech companies, manufacturing, research personnel, patents and education

Innovation is key to South Korean companies, as they face increasingly stiff competition on the global markets, such as Samsung and LG who are global leaders in the area of consumer electronics thanks to their cutting-edge technology and innovative product designs.

Against this backdrop of innovation, SAP Startup Focus Programme is hosting it’s first forum in the capital Seoul.  This event takes place on December 20th at SAP’s AppHaus and registration is now live.

We are looking to meet innovative startups who are working in the in the Big Data, predictive and real-time analytics space (Machine learning, AI, data security, IoT, mobile, cloud etc) who are interested in joining our global programme, where there are currently over 4,000 startups are innovating on SAP HANA

For more information on this upcoming event, contact or


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Middle East Tech Startups to drive economic growth supported by the SAP Startup Focus Program and the local startup ecosystem

 in association with Fabienne Oswald

Startups across the Middle East and North Africa will be vital in driving the region’s Digital Economy and job creation for technology talents. According to a recent ArabNet report, over $750 million were invested in more than 450 tech startup deals in the MENA region between 2013-2015.


Boosting regional innovation and supporting local entrepreneurs, the SAP Training and Development Institute has rolled out the global Startup Focus Program in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and Egypt with an events roadshow from November 3rd until 10th. In cooperation with local partners, the institute together with Startup Focus further supports technology entrepreneurs, who will be driving Middle East’s digital transformation and innovation.


More than 600 innovators attended the events across the MENA region and learned how to grow their innovative business plans with SAP’s cutting-edge technology.


Furthermore, we are honored having seen a strong support by influential local organizations and personalities such as His Excellency the Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Dr. Mohammed bin Ibrahim Al-Suwaiyel as well as the German Ambassador Dieter Walter Haller in Saudi Arabia, the Ministry of Transport & Communications in Qatar, CEO of Zain in Jordan and USAID Palestine as well as the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology in Egypt.


“Government support for tech start-ups is essential for driving the Saudi Vision 2030 goals of national digital transformation and sustainable career paths for Saudi talents. Public-private partnerships, such as with SAP, combine government vision and private sector expertise to amplify Saudi entrepreneur’s ideas and enhance the Kingdom’s digital economic competitiveness,” said His Excellency Dr. Mohammed bin Ibrahim Al-Suwaiyel, the Saudi Minister of Communications and Information Technology.


Since launching the SAP Startup Focus Program in MENA in 2015 (with two events in Dubai), already 12 selected startups are now building their businesses’ success on SAP’s innovative technology

What Enterprise Companies have learned from working with Startups.

By Frances Roche October 04, 2016

By Frances Roche MSc, Global Forum Events


As a startup in SAP’s Startup Focus Programme, there are many benefits to be enjoyed – access to SAP HANA, a community of developers and go to market opportunities with the customer base of over 25,000.   And while SAP benefits from the programme by having a global community innovating and developing on the HANA platform, what else have we and other large enterprise companies learned from our interaction with startups?

In the last years more and more attention is paid to the phenomena of Accelerator Programmes and its variations. By investing in new ventures, incumbent firms may gain a window onto the venture’s technologies and practices

A recent article in the Harvard Business Review, Big Companies Should Collaborate with Startups, (Yoon & Hughes 2016) suggested a number of things

  • That consumer companies are now investing in the startup scene as the the rate of growth has slowed down and opportunities are increasingly hard to come by.  The major growth is being driven by startups and entrepreneurs.
  • Startups and large companies excel at opposite ends of the spectrum, therefore Startups and established companies bring “two distinct and equally integral skills to the table.  Startups and established companies would both improve their success rates if they collaborated instead of competed”.
  • Startups are better at detecting and unlocking emerging and latent demand.
  • While larger companies have the resources to scale, they may lack appetite or the insights that create an innovative proof of concept.
  • Established companies may own the relationship with their customers, but often they are far removed from their users, whereas startups are more in tune with their customer’s needs.

While this particular article refers to the $125 million venture fund in which Campbell has invested in venture funds to finance food startups, it is resonated throughout many other sectors, as evidenced by The Brandery and P&G accelerator programme, announced in 2015 which sought startups who excelled in Connected Products and Platforms, Seamless Brand Building & Commerce and Big Data & Analytics.

Enterprise also look to emulate the perceived  startup aesthetic, to discover what startup culture really looks like and why. An innovative and energetic vibe exhibited by many startups and their founders, can be distilled to four themes that connect the “ethos” of a company with its environment”. Passion, Personality, Agility and Authenticity are identified as key elements that entrepreneurs value.  Furthermore, there are a number of other attributes that are aligned with the startup mindset, such as ability to react and pivot quickly as a team, rather than being bogged down in corporate silos, as well as valuing contributions from the whole team, collaborating with new people and finding ways to work smarter.


These sentiments are also echoed in Gruber’s Startup Mixology: Tech Cocktail’s Guide to Building, Growing, and Celebrating Startup Success (2014)Throughout, he refers to the characteristics that entrepreneurs exhibit – rule breakers, risk takers who lead with passion, as opposed to corporations who maintain the status quo and minimise risk to the bottom line.  


It is also important to reflect on how larger, more established corporations, now compete with startups to hire the best young professionals either direct from third level or within a few years of graduation.  In a recent Accenture survey, only 15% of the class of 2014 would “prefer” to work for a mature, established organization.


To this point, if a large corporation is not attracting interest from the new entrepreneurs and innovators by displaying a culture of innovation and an agile mindset, it follows that these companies may not be exhibiting the necessary qualities to entice startups to engage and foster collaboration.


In conclusion, while the phenomena of corporations engaging with startups, in terms of sponsorship and support is not new, over the last 20 years or so, activity has increased.  Startup programmes have become more defined as corporations identify and develop mutual KPI’s and milestone expectations – and from a corporate standpoint the values of a startup they most want to emulate are:


  • Being more customer centric and in touch with the end-user’s needs
  • An innovative and energetic vibe
  • Being closer to emerging trends
  • Cultivating an innovative culture
  • Breaking down silos and fostering a collaborative environment
  • Access to an emerging pool of talent
  • An agile mind-set with the ability to execute quickly
  • Embracing disruptive technology, while eschewing incremental innovation




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Saudi Image

By Fabienne Oswald

Startups and entrepreneurs are disrupting the Middle East’s Digital Economy. According to a recent ArabNet report, over $750 million were invested in more than 450 tech startup deals in the MENA region between 2013-2015. Furthermore, the region will host at least one “unicorn” (USD 1 billion-valued startup) by 2020, in addition to USD 10 billion in publicly-listed Internet companies by 2025, following a recent report by Kauffmann Fellows.

Since launching the SAP Startup Focus Program in MENA in 2015, already 12 selected startups are now building their businesses’ success on SAP’s innovative technology. ShortPoint is the program’s first successfully incubated and validated startup in the Middle East and North Africa and based out of Dubai. It develops tools to make web content design much quicker without coding requirements. As part of the Startup Focus Program, ShortPoint integrated their product with SAP HANA Cloud Portal enabling users to Design modern sites in just a few minutes, without coding or deep technical skills.

After bringing together the regions’ startup community with so far two events in Dubai, the SAP Training and Development Institute continues to drive innovation by rolling out the program in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and Egypt with an events roadshow in November 2016. In cooperation with local partners, the institute together with Startup Focus aims to support further technology entrepreneurs, who will be driving Middle East’s digital transformation and innovation.


Technology startups across MENA, whose product ideas are based on Big Data, predictive or real-time analytics solution, can register for the events in Qatar, Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia via

Participating in the events is the first step for startups to benefit from the global program.


“The Middle East has produced highly-valued startups across transportation and retail. Now we aim to find startups that can transform industry verticals such as healthcare, education, and sports,” says Marita Mitschein, Senior Vice President and Managing Director, SAP Training and Development Institute.

Please see all dates and links to the registration below:

Calling FinTech startups in South Africa !

By Frances Roche September 27, 2016

Hyena Looking at Flamingos in South Africa

Today SAP Africa and Rise Cape Town, Barclays Africa initiative, announced that registration has

opened for Fintech focused startups to register for an exclusive event on October 20th in Cape

Town.  This programme forms part of the Global SAP StartUp Focus initiative that began in 2012

and kicked off in South Africa in 2013. The aim is to attract entrepreneurs from across the South

African financial services sector. The fintech-focused event will take place at Rise Cape Town on

20, followed by a Technical Bootcamp 21 October 2016. Those wanting to participate in the

events should register online where a full agenda is also published. This event is open to South

Africa-based entrepreneurs whose ventures are at an early stage. Anyone with business ideas

focusing on payment platforms, blockchain, remittance, insuretech, alternative lending, big

data, artificial intelligence or any innovation that disrupts financial services is encouraged to

join. . On 20 October, the top six startups that meet all the criteria will be invited to pitch their

business ideas to a panel of experts and potential business connections led by Nicole Anderson,

a global expert in financial technology. These companies will then be invited to a

comprehensive training session focused on how to develop prototypes using the SAP HANA

Cloud® technology on 21 October. The qualifying startups will also receive a complimentary

three month membership to Rise Cape Town, a gathering space renowned for its innovative

approach to hosting Africa’s brightest minds in the financial services technology industry.

According to Elke Simon-Keller, Innovation Lead at SAP Africa, “SAP is excited about the

partnership with Rise, a Barclay’s initiative. We are leveraging this forum to accelerate startups

in South Africa and showcase how other successful startups are using SAP technology and the

SAP ecosystem network to create viable commercial opportunities. The programme will provide

startups with access to SAP’s technology, customer-base as well as mentorship. With the help of

our technical experts and software developers, we are also confident that winning fintech

startups will benefit immensely from the technology hands-on workshop to develop their own

business prototype.” “Rise Cape Town has partnered with SAP as we share a vision to bring

startups and corporates together to solve some of the biggest challenges facing financial

services. By creating a community of the world’s brightest thinkers and doers, Rise is able to

empower startups and connect them to potential investors, partners and customers – and in

the case of the Fintech StartUp programme, ultimately boost the African economy and help the

continent prosper,” said Camilla Swart, Ecosystem Manager of Rise Cape Town. To date SAP has

impacted over 3 750 startups across Africa and via the collaboration with Barclays Rise, SAP

plans to expand the forum into the rest of Africa. For more information about the Global SAP

Startup Focus Programme:, visit the SAP News Center or

follow the Startup Focus Programme news on Twitter @SAPStartups @sapafrica

@Barclaysafrica @FintechRise #startupfocus About SAP: As market leader in enterprise

application software, SAP (NYSE: SAP) helps companies of all sizes and industries run better.

From back office to boardroom, warehouse to storefront, desktop to mobile device – SAP

empowers people and organizations to work together more efficiently and use business insight

more effectively to stay ahead of the competition. SAP applications and services enable more

than 300,000 customers to operate profitably, adapt continuously, and grow sustainably. For

more information, visit   About Rise Rise, created by Barclays, brings

together the world’s brightest startups and experts to create the future of financial services. As

an organisation with a history in technological firsts, Barclays is excited by the opportunities

presented by the transformations currently taking place in finance, technology and business.

Where product innovations and industry developments were once born of corporations and

institutions, many are now being created by entrepreneurial individuals around the world who

are working with increased speed to disrupt the business models of the past. In order to work

with these entrepreneurs in a mutually beneficial way, Barclays established Rise. By combining

the agility and disruption of startups with the expertise and scale of Barclays, Rise achieves a

unique synthesis of speed and security, youth and wisdom, ideas and knowledge. With a global

network of talent, world-class innovation programmes and workspaces in seven fintech

ecosystems, Rise is an exclusive community where the brightest and best can develop,

collaborate, and scale together. The My World of Tomorrow SA Innovation Awards has

recognised Rise in Africa as their ‘Collaborative Innovation Winner’ for 2015. For further

information about Rise, please visit About Barclays Africa Group Barclays

Africa Group Limited (“Barclays Africa” or “the Group”) is listed on the Johannesburg Stock

Exchange and is one of Africa’s largest financial services groups. Barclays Africa is 50.1% owned

by Barclays Bank PLC (“Barclays PLC”). Barclays Africa is uniquely positioned as a fully local, fully

regional and fully international bank, offering personal and business banking, credit cards,

corporate and investment banking, wealth and investment management and insurance. The

Group operates in 12 countries with approximately 40 thousand employees, serving more than

12 million customers. The Group registered head office is in Johannesburg, South Africa and

owns majority stakes in banks in Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles,

South Africa, Tanzania (Barclays Bank Tanzania and National Bank of Commerce), Uganda and

Zambia. The Group also has representative offices in Namibia and Nigeria. Barclays PLC has

operations in Egypt and Zimbabwe which continue to be operated by Barclays Africa. For

further information about Barclays Africa, please visit

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Hallå Stockholm!

By Frances Roche August 26, 2016


By Frances Roche, Startup Focus Forum Co-ordinator


When people think about Sweden, automatically 70’s supergroup Abba immediately spring to mind.  However, in more recent years, Sweden and it’s capital city of Stockholm have emerged as a world leader in technology.


In fact, if you played a game on your phone today, listened to music online or video-chatted with a friend, chances are you used a Swedish company. Skype became Stockholm’s first unicorn when it was bought by eBay for $2.6bn in 2005 – just two years after it launched – and has since been followed by Spotify, Candy Crush parent King, Minecraft maker Mojang and the payments service Klarna.


The Nordic region represents 2% of global GDP but has accounted for almost 10% of the world’s billion-dollar exits over the last decade, with more than half of these coming from Sweden.  In fact, 2015, marked the best year ever in terms of exit value for Nordic companies, including three $1bn exits and more than $13bn in total exit value.


Stockholm has produced more unicorns per capita than any other city in the world, and, in 2014 the city — with a population of 800,000 — reflecting 15% of all foreign investment in the European tech sector. A Google-funded report from 2014 showed that there are 22,000 technology companies in Stockholm, and 18% of the city’s workforce are employed in technology-related roles.


Following the world wide recession, a number of initiatives were put in place to ensure a more stable financial future, a measure from which Sweden boasts a low level of national debt, low and relatively stable inflation and a healthy banking system. The healthy state of the Swedish economy has given local entrepreneurs plenty of confidence to invest in companies and ideas.

What’s more, Sweden’s government actively supports local startups, a decision to invest in R&D is credited as one of the driving motors of Sweden’s startup successes.


In addition to this the government offers various seed fund programmes, such as the ‘market validation’ programme that provides grants to kickstart startups as well as government-funded tech incubators that encourage innovation and entrepreneurship.


This October the SAP Startup Focus Programme will host its’ first Swedish Forum at SUP46. (Start-Up People of Sweden) Regeringsgatan 65 was founded in 2013 to gather the startup community. Through the world-class ecosystem of investors, advisors and partners, members are offered a competitive advantage.


Located in the heart of Stockholm, it is home to more than 50 startups and a natural meeting place for the startup community. Only the most exciting and innovative companies, mainly within Internet, mobile, media and gaming, are accepted as members.


Registration is now open, but for more information on the Startup Focus Programme please visit our website or follow us on Twitter @SAPStartups

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