Exploring the benefits of corporate accelerators: investigating the SAP Industry 4.0 Startup Program

  • Received May 18, 2019;
    Accepted July 9, 2019;
    Published August 22, 2019
  • Author(s)
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  • Article Info
    Volume 17 2019, Issue #3, pp. 218-232
  • Cited by
    19 articles

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Corporate accelerators are on the rise and established companies from a diverse set of industries and regions have set up such startup support programs to predominantly pursue strategic goals. The purpose of this study is to shed light on the benefits of corporate accelerators from a corporate perspective and that of the participating startups. In order to do so, this in-depth single-site case study investigates the SAP Industry 4.0 Startup Program building upon an inductive research design with explorative nature. The authors qualitatively examine a newly established corporate accelerator program of one of the world’s largest enterprise software companies and provide valuable insights for both practitioners and scholars engaged in corporate accelerators. The benefits for startups participating in corporate accelerator programs can be linked to operational go-to-market acceleration in regards to product development, sales acceleration, as well as skill and knowledge development. Moreover, the startups receive benefits linked to strategic business development acceleration in the areas of strategy and business model improvements, pitching, financing, and strategic partner development. At the same time, corporate accelerators overall aim to increase the competitiveness of established companies running such programs by developing a product ecosystem and the brand, infusing startup culture into the organization and developing customer relationships.

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    • Figure 1. Different innovation, incubation and venturing initiatives at SAP
    • Figure 2. Selection process the Industry 4.0 Startup Program
    • Figure 3. Operational Go-to-Market acceleration of startups
    • Figure 4. Strategic business development acceleration of startups
    • Figure 5. Sales acceleration of SAP as program operator
    • Table 1. Offerings for participating startups
    • Table 2. Required characteristics of participating startups
    • Table 3. Overview of interviews
    • Table A1. Overview of innovation, incubation and venturing activities at SAP