German software company SAP has launched its first-ever fan experience-focused startup accelerator program, seeking to aid its mission of delivering a “unique and unparalleled” experience at SAP Garden, while also holding broader benefits outside the new Munich arena.

From the latest SAP.iO Foundry location in the German city, eight startups were last month chosen to participate in a venture held in collaboration with SAP Garden, a multi-purpose sports arena being built by energy drinks giant Red Bull in Munich’s Olympiapark.

The collaboration aims to identify innovative technologies for use in in the arena, which will house German Ice Hockey League (DEL) club Red Bull München and Basketball Bundesliga (BBL) outfit FC Bayern München, both long-time SAP partners.

SAP.iO Foundry Munich is part of SAP’s strategic business unit designed to accelerate innovation and drive new business models for the firm. The SAP.iO Foundries program is a global network of equity-free accelerator programs located in strategic hubs. It provides startups with access to mentorship, exposure to SAP technologies, and opportunities to meet and collaborate with SAP customers.

The selected startups – Ariadne Maps, MultiBall, Immersiv.io, INS Insider Navigation Systems, Pico, TAWNY, Wagawin and Zippin – will work closely with mentors at SAP, Red Bull and FC Bayern to develop proofs-of-concept, access SAP technology and application programmable interfaces (APIs), and identify opportunities to collaborate with SAP executives and customers. The accelerator program will run for three months and conclude with a demo day in early December.

Commenting on what SAP is seeking from the eight startups, Daniela Huckele-Goerisch, director of strategic initiatives at SAP Global Sponsorships, told TheStadiumBusiness.com: “As any startup participating in the acceleration program of the SAP.iO Foundry Munich, the goal is to integrate the startups into the SAP partner ecosystem.

“All the startups have touchpoints with SAP solutions and can leverage them or even fill existing gaps. These solutions we want to make available, in a second step, to our customers through our APP centre.”

In March 2019, it was announced that Munich’s new arena would be known as SAP Garden following the conclusion of a naming contest run by its main sponsor. Danish architectural firm 3XN was chosen to develop the new arena a month earlier.

3XN is leading the project in association with landscape architects Latz + Partner after initially being shortlisted as one of two contenders for the contract in November 2018. Located southwest of the Olympiastadion, the 11,500-seat venue will also accommodate public ice sports. The design choice was made by Red Bull, which is financing the project, FC Bayern München and SAP.

“As an innovation and technology partner, SAP is liaising closely with the future main users of the SAP Garden,” said Huckele-Goerisch. “By integrating the latest technologies, it can ensure that the venue will provide visitors with a unique and unparalleled fan experience.

“As the Experience Company powered by the Intelligent Enterprise, the end-to-end fan journey is extremely relevant to SAP. Therefore, the SAP Garden will be equipped with the very latest technical capabilities and feature innovative solutions that put all target groups – fans, visitors, business customers and employees front and centre.”

The developers of any major arena or stadium at present are being presented with the challenge of how they can adapt their project so that it caters to the fresh challenges of operating in a world currently gripped by COVID-19.

Regarding how tech can enhance SAP Garden’s operations in this environment, Huckele-Goerisch said: “We’re absolutely aware that this new situation will have a major impact on customer behaviour in arenas and stadiums around the world. 

“We’re in close collaboration with all parties involved at the SAP Garden to make sure we include our expertise when it comes to digital arena management and fan experience. For example, we’re discussing the possibilities of different processes for digitisation and the offerings of touchless services in the arena.”

Images: 3XN