An interview with Lior Weizman, Director, SAP.iO Foundry Tel-Aviv
Founded in 2019, SAP.iO Foundry Tel-Aviv is part of a global network of connected innovation teams within SAP, with a mission to identify and turn suitable startups into SAP's next generation of partners. Each of the 10 SAP.iO Foundries is running 2 startup programs a year, with different themes. After scouting and selecting the startups, each Foundry team conducts a 3-month program through which they build the foundation for long-term partnership with SAP.
How are you different from other corporate startup programs or accelerators?
Our main differentiator is that our mission is to form new strategic partnerships for SAP, and not just to run an accelerator or a startup program. We do run programs in order to build these new partnerships in the most efficient way, and this approach allows us to focus on a specific topic in each program, and to work with the most relevant set of global SAP stakeholders in each of our programs. This programmatic
approach also allows us to have efficient startup scouting and to better utilize our resources and processes like technical integration, commercialization, and marketing.
Another significant differentiator is our approach toward partnership. Most partnerships between startups and large multinational companies are being formed locally, starting with a single deal, working with a local stakeholder, and growing from there. If successful, these local partnerships will become global and strategic after a few years. At SAP.iO we built our partnerships top-down; we work only with global SAP stakeholders, product, or industry groups, which allow us to identify strategic white spaces for new partners, and form strong partnerships from day one. For startups who are looking to build long-term partnership with SAP, this is a game changer.
How is SAP.IO Foundry Tel-Aviv connected to the Israeli ecosystem?
There's no wonder that in 2019 SAP decided to open an SAP.iO Foundry in Tel-Aviv, considering the high number of startups, VCs and multinationals that are operating in Israel. It is also very important for us to sit closer to the heart of the Israeli ecosystem, in Tel-Aviv. Therefore, our office is located at the LABS TLV co-working space, close to many of Israel’s leading startups, VCs and other innovation centers.
Since we started our operation in Israel we run 2 programs every year that are aligned with Israel technological strengths, including programs focused on Consumer Industries, Utilities, and Supply Chain technologies.
Although our programs are virtual and global, when deciding on upcoming focus areas for our team in Tel-Aviv, it’s important for us to choose a topic where Israel can offer a strong deal-flow of startups, which will allow us to have suitable Israeli startups in our programs. So far, we’ve built partnerships with 17 Israeli startups, including Explorium, TVpage, SundaySky, Algopix, ARpalus, Youtiligent and others.
At SAP.iO we built our partnerships top-down; we work only with global SAP stakeholders, product, or industry groups, which allow us to identify strategic white spaces for new partners, and form strong partnerships from day one. For startups who are looking to build long-term partnership with SAP, this is a game changer
Our approach is to leverage Israel's unique strength of having hundreds of multinational companies doing different types of innovation in Israel and collaborate with these multinationals in order to give value to our startups. Many of these multinational companies are also SAP clients, which makes it a win-win for us. So far, SAP.iO Foundry Tel-Aviv has led successful collaborations with many other multinationals operating in Israel, including global players like E.ON and Publicis and local players such as Israel Electric Corporation.
Which startups should join your program and why?
Our programs are specifically aimed for startups that partnering with SAP is part of their roadmap as a company. The SAP.iO Foundry program will offer them dedicated SAP resources to accelerate time-topartnership, formal integration with SAP, market exposure via SAP marketplace and account teams, and official joint sales materials with SAP.
To founders who want to join the program, I strongly recommend to learn about SAP and have a clear vision on ‘why to partner’, before they apply. Also, it is advised that they will confirm a fit with one of our focus areas and white spaces and avoid general application. If you have a client request to partner with SAP, this is a benefit! Last but not least, they should consider the timing, as we look for companies that are mature enough to become an SAP partner and have available resources to support this partnership.
Lior Weizman, Director and Foundry Head. Before joining SAP Lior led Deloitte’s Technology Scouting Services and spent 11 years at IBM where he led IBM's first startup accelerator ("Alpha Zone").
Inbar Yacoby, Program Manager. Before joining SAP.iO Inbar led SAP's Ecosystem Relations for innovation activities in Israel, IDC Entrepreneurship Club, and performed other roles in the Israeli startup ecosystem.
Stephanie Horwitz, leads Value Creation at SAP.iO Foundries. Also the creator of the “What Should I Do With My Life?” podcast. Before joining SAP, Stephanie led operations at HP Tech Ventures, and worked in community building and program management at Jerusalem Village.
Photo by Efrat Sa'ar