SAP Africa announces start-up forum winners

The first-ever big data SAP HANA Forum held in Africa gives start-ups access to SAP resources.

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The African chapter of the SAP Startup Focus Program, held yesterday, was a chance for the company to demonstrate its support for African entrepreneurs, as well as showcase the diverse capabilities of the SAP HANA platform. SAP HANA is a next-generation database platform that delivers unprecedented value by delivering real-time insight into businesses. From 50 start-up companies across Africa, eight finalists were chosen to pitch their ideas on how to best leverage the real-time capabilities of SAP HANA. The judging panel included Kaustav Mitra, VP Global Program Lead, SAP Startup Focus Program, who is based in Palo Alto, California, as well as several other local senior SAP specialists.

The SAP Startup Focus Program is a global effort aimed at driving adoption of the SAP HANA platform outside the traditional SAP ecosystem. The overall goal of the programme is to provide start-ups with all the support needed to port or build their applications to SAP HANA. Fifty responses were forthcoming from across the sub-continent, and applications were canvassed in November 2012. A number of strict criteria were then used to whittle the number down to the eight finalists. Applicants had to illustrate a market for their solutions, produce a business case, and show how SAP HANA could support their submissions.

On his first visit to South Africa, Mitra was both excited and impressed by the innovation he witnessed at the African forum. "HANA is our gateway to the start-up community and the high quality here compares with any I have encountered at other forums around the world."

Three winners were announced at yesterday's event:

* The most innovative idea award went to Chappal Waddi, from Nigeria:
* The best mobile solution went to Kamoeba, from South Africa:
* The judges' favorite award went to another South African start-up, Vertigro Asset Management:

The other finalists included Navomax (South Africa), Axis Solutions (Zimbabwe), GreenBuk Technologies (Nigeria), EPI-USE Analytics (South Africa), Shiluba-tsaka Productive (South Africa), and Expert Solutions (South Africa).

As an indication of the high standard of the eight proposals, all of the finalists have been invited to join a development accelerator (DA) programme. The objective of a DA is to build a proof-of-concept (PoC) and, eventually, a product with explicit business value. The DA kicks off with an intensive bootcamp on SAP HANA development topics. Once development is under way, SAP will support participants with regular architecture reviews, technical support and consulting. When start-ups are ready with their products, they will enter SAP's go-to-market stage.

Warren McFadyen and his business partner, Peter Arling, from Vertigro Asset Management, were excited by the award. "The big data functionality of SAP HANA is the most suitable solution for our requirements. On top of this, being accepted to the SAP Accelerator Programme is a fantastic opportunity for us as a young start-up company," says McFadyen.

The winning start-ups will commence with the Accelerator phase with a two-day bootcamp session in three week' time in Johannesburg to fast-track them on the way to building their own HANA-based prototypes.

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