SAP Increases Commitment to Powering Innovation in France

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SAP have announced a series of planned investments in France over the next five years to accelerate the company’s digital strategy and support France’s growing position as a hub of innovation.

The investment includes plans to incubate, mentor and develop more than 50 start-ups, and to invest €150m a year in research and development over the next five years. The news was also followed by SAP's announcement that they have acquired Paris-based machine-learning startup, Recast.AI.

Signalling its continued support for France, SAP estimates a more than €2 billion spend over five years, intended to accelerate the company’s fast growth in the cloud and advance a technology community focused on machine learning (ML), blockchain, the Internet of Things (IoT) and software as a service (SaaS). The step reflects SAP’s global strategy – fueled by the SAP Leonardo digital innovation system – to help every organisation become an intelligent enterprise. SAP will focus on startups that build solutions complementary to the SAP Leonardo system to foster fast collaboration and global scale.

“There is a real sense of economic momentum in France,” Bill McDermott, CEO, SAP, said after a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron. “President Macron’s bold embrace of the digital world will help France rise to an enviable position as a global innovation leader. We see immense potential in the entrepreneurial spirit of France to disrupt business models, create modern jobs and unleash exciting new opportunities that help the world run better.”

For the first time, the incubation and innovation activities SAP undertakes in France include investment in startups with special focus on global impact, such as sustainability and climate change, where France is taking a leadership role. This new focus on social impact will complement the SAP.iO program’s strategic investments, which align with core businesses and technologies of SAP. The startups, led by dynamic entrepreneurs, play a critical role in extending SAP’s footprint and creating high-value use cases for customers.

The move includes:

  • Opening the second SAP.iO Foundry location in Europe to provide more than 50 startups with mentorship, technology and access to the vibrant SAP ecosystem
  • Investment by SAP.iO Fund in French startups in the seed or Series A round
  • Spend by SAP of €150 million in research and development annually over the next five years
  • Acquisition of Recast.AI to accelerate to development of SAP Leonardo Machine Learning capabilities

Recast.AI Acquisition to Accelerate Natural Language Processing Capabilities

Recast.AI provides a development environment – software, technology and applications – that uses natural language, for example, chatbots. Recast.AI’s technology matches the requirements of conversational chatbots and allows high-performance natural language processing that supports more than 20 languages.

The acquisition will help SAP enhance the natural language processing capabilities in SAP solutions to help customers enjoy an improved user experience. SAP aims to simplify complex business interactions and processes by employing conversational user experience technology. The intention is to have applications speak to SAP software users in natural language. SAP created the SAP CoPilot digital assistant, a Web application, and an in-house platform to build conversational applications. SAP intends to use this platform across a wide breadth of its portfolio.

Recast.AI was founded in 2015, emerging from French coding school “42,” and is currently located at the incubator “Station F.” The company has grown quickly and today serves international customers in France, including large banks and insurance and tech companies. Recast.AI provides a modern ML-based technical architecture and owns proprietary algorithms that understand natural language. Its team of highly talented data scientists and engineers will strengthen ML development at SAP.

SAP is acquiring Recast.AI through its direct French subsidiary SAP France Holding, a limited liability company. Both companies agreed not to disclose details of the transaction.

SAP France celebrated its 30-year anniversary in 2017. Thousands of organisations in France – public and private – rely on SAP solutions and services to help them run at their best. In addition to hosting two of the 19 SAP Labs of SAP Labs Network, the company opened a flagship SAP Leonardo Center location in Paris last year. The location harnesses technologies such as AI and ML to deliver greater value to customers across the region. Innovation is core to operations in France. It includes plans to develop the France Innovation hub with the opening of Sports Center, an SAP Future Cities initiative and the extension of the SAP Leonardo Center location, which has already hosted more than 30,000 visitors since its opening.

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