SAP Next-Gen

3 min read
15 Jan 2024

ith technology advancing at unprecedented speeds, many major cities are transforming into entrepreneurship and innovation hubs, each with a distinct identity linked to its culture and history. Los Angeles, a gravitational center of arts and media, is now entering the world stage as a technology hub and, according to senior vice president and global head of SAP Next-Gen Ann Rosenberg, it’s poised to become an innovation center founded on and inspired by science-fiction thinking and Innovation 4.0.

“I predict LA will be the next big, global innovation hub, based on the concentration of science-fiction knowledge in the region and its position as the center of the US entertainment industry,” says Ann. Originally from Denmark and now based in New York City, Ann is an international advocate for purpose-driven innovation. She educates startups and corporates on the concept of Innovation 4.0, which aligns science-fiction thinking and purpose-driven thinking with the UN’s seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs or Global Goals) to unlock profit and social-purpose potential for exponential technologies. 

The SDGs, established in 2015 by world leaders from UN member states, aim to create a better future by 2030; namely, by confronting issues such as hunger and poverty and ensuring gender equality and good-quality healthcare and education for everyone. Ann and her team work to support and inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators in developing impactful solutions to present and future problems, and science-fiction thinking is a vital ingredient in this process. 

In support of her vision, Ann’s book on science-fiction thinking and Innovation 4.0, entitled Science Fiction – A Starship for Enterprise Innovation, uses science-fiction tropes such as time travel to inspire innovators to leverage their farthest-reaching imaginations in developing their business ideas. Ann says, “We inspire purpose-driven innovators to picture themselves in the year 2030 and imagine that the Sustainable Development Goals have been achieved, and to focus on the opportunities for achieving positive outcomes rather than being limited by perceptions of what is possible today.” 

For Ann and SAP Next-Gen, science-fiction thinking is essential for innovation, and it gives startups a competitive advantage as intelligent enterprises seek out innovation with purpose. Unlocking creativity through science-fiction thinking can help companies adopt an innovation mindset to deal with unprecedented surges in technological advancement and transform it into disruptive, purpose-driven innovation. 

Ann believes that Los Angeles is an ideal innovation city to take on the mantle of a science-fiction hub. The magnitude of creativity in the city can act as inspiration for startups to unlock the potential of technologies in reaching the SDGs. “When you want to make some really big changes, you need a bold mindset,” says Ann. “LA has the right ingredients to foster that mindset and is an outstanding setting for science fiction-inspired innovation with purpose.”

However, adopting science-fiction thinking is not the end of the story; in her book and at speaking engagements, Ann urges startups and corporates to redefine not only what they’re doing but also where they want to go. “With the science-fiction mindset, companies will accelerate toward good ideas,” says Ann, “so how are we going to measure whether they lead toward a winning strategy?” 

If you look today at some of the most successful people in the world, it’s not about money; it’s about the impact they are driving as human beings.

Science-fiction thinking can help entrepreneurs redefine winning so that it’s about contributing to the next generation of innovators and innovating more sustainably. “If you look today at some of the most successful people in the world, it’s not about money; it’s about the impact they are driving as human beings.” If Los Angeles is able to own its identity as a science-fiction innovation center, startups and corporates founding in the region and those migrating there can work together and innovate toward the most meaningful impact. 

SAP Next-Gen is leading initiatives and creating spaces to help accelerate LA as an innovation hub on the world stage and take full advantage of the science-fiction imagination already so prevalent in the city. To drive Los Angeles to meet this innovative future, SAP Next-Gen is collaborating with a number of notable universities, such as the University of Southern California, and is opening a concept office with coworking space called Hanahaus at Newport Beach. SAP’s Innovation Center Network also opened a residency at the Cove at UCI Applied Innovation.

Most important tips for startups:

  • Realize the opportunity of Los Angeles as a science-fiction city. When you take on the task of being a big innovation hub, you should own that identity and what it stands for. Los Angeles is a new home for the science-fiction mindset and Innovation 4.0, and supporting that identity will make you better and more purpose-driven innovators.
  • Unlock your science-fiction thinking and imaginations. Make sure you use the science-fiction mindset in building your startup, thereby aligning with the idea of Los Angeles as a science-fiction city. Your idea should be bold and futuristic to reflect the swift pace of innovation. 
  • Begin to use a new value system of winning. In your startup, start redefining success. Winning is not just about money or notoriety; it’s about having a lasting impact on the future and working toward the SDGs.