German software giant SAP further expanded its significant Israeli operations on Tuesday as the company launched the newest branch of its SAP.iO “Foundry” start-up accelerator in Tel Aviv.The SAP.iO Foundry program is part of SAP’s multi-million dollar global innovation strategy to accelerate early-stage business-to-business (B2B) start-ups and provide hi-tech solutions to more than 400,000 customers. Seven Israeli start-ups will join the first cohort of the accelerator, located at Tel Aviv’s Azrieli Sarona Tower, and gain access to mentors, have opportunities to collaborate with SAP’s huge customer base, and be exposed to SAP technologies and programming interface.“The objective is to build an open ecosystem of start-up innovation around SAP’s solutions, and we like to see this as a win-win-win situation for the start-ups, customers and SAP,” said Alexa Gorman, head of SAP.iO Foundries EMEA. “The win for SAP is that we are able to provide our customers with innovation that we are not necessarily going to be able to develop ourselves.”Foundries established by SAP.iO are now active in eight major start-up hubs worldwide including Tel Aviv, boasting two locations in the United States and programs in Berlin, Munich, Paris, Singapore and Tokyo. In the first phase of the equity-free accelerator, the Tel Aviv Foundry will focus on deep technology start-ups.The accelerator program operates alongside the SAP.iO Fund, which has finalized investments in 24 early-stage enterprise software start-ups to date, including four Israeli companies.Start-ups joining the first Foundry cohort include predictive analytics retail technology start-up ARpalus, digital transaction system developers EasySend, and online sales intelligence platform Silverback. Three of the seven start-ups are led by women, Gorman said, in keeping with SAP.iO’s commitment to investing in diversity.“SAP.iO is focused on inclusive entrepreneurship, and we made a pledge to invest in 200 companies led by women and underrepresented entrepreneurs by 2023,” said Gorman. In addition to identifying strong female-led start-ups, up to 40% of the SAP.iO Fund is dedicated to investing in inclusive entrepreneurship.The launch of the Foundry further expands SAP’s operations in Israel, where it has been active for more than two decades. The company has completed 10 acquisitions in Israel and currently employs approximately 800 developers in its R&D centers in Ra’anana and Tel Aviv.SAP is also a limited partner in Sapphire Ventures, a Silicon Valley-based venture capital company with a permanent presence in Israel.“We always say that the presence of SAP in Israel is about more than the 800 developers that develop products globally, but really about bringing the innovation from the ecosystem into the company and to our customers,” said Orna Kleinmann, managing director at SAP Labs Israel and SVP Technology & Innovation Cloud Experience. “The biggest challenge for a multinational company trying to do something with start-ups is how quickly the company can integrate technologies. That’s exactly what we can offer from the local R&D centers – to do the integration quickly, meet in Tel Aviv or Ra’anana, and bring value quicker than if there was just an accelerator operated remotely.”While selected start-ups are not guaranteed investment at the end of the three-month program, Gorman said the accelerator will continue to search for opportunities to implement their technologies even after its conclusion.The first cohort might only be beginning their work this week, Gorman added, but work is already under way to welcome two additional cohorts of Israeli start-ups in February and September next year.