Singapore launches maritime tech start-up platform

Singapore took another step to boost the development of maritime technology start-ups with the launch of PIER71 by senior minister of state for transport and health Lam Pin Min. The launch event also incorporated the signing of four Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) to provide start-ups with more support in their innovation journey.

PIER71, or Port Innovation Ecosystem Reimagined @ Block71, is an industry-wide acceleration programme that supports innovation and encourages the maritime industry to venture into new growth areas through collaboration with technology start-ups.

Set up by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and NUS Enterprise, the entrepreneurial arm of the National University of Singapore, PIER71 provides a platform for foreign and local companies, start-ups, venture capitalists, and mentors to exchange knowledge and form organic partnerships. It will contribute to building a vibrant maritime entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem, as envisioned by Singapore’s Sea Transport Industry Transformation Map, and sharpen its competitive edge. PIER71 was previously known as the Maritime Technology Acceleration Programme.

PIER71’s first innovation workshop in May, run by MPA, was for a cohort of digital officers from 23 maritime companies. The workshop covered the development of systematic processes for identifying and quantifying innovation opportunities, and equipped digital officers with the skills to translate innovative ideas into tangible outcomes for maritime companies. Among participating companies were Batamfast, CMA CGM, Jurong Port, Klaveness Asia, Lloyd’s of London (Asia), MOL Chemical Tankers, Ocean Network Express, OMC Shipping, OSM Maritime Group, Pacific International Lines, Pacific Carriers Lines, PSA, Sinanju Tankers, Singapore Cruise Centre, Symphony Creative Solutions, Teekay Tankers, Total Marine, Vopak, Wärtsilä Corporation and Wilhelmsen Ship Services.

In line with the launch of PIER71 and to provide start-ups with more opportunities and access to resources such as mentors and networks, NUS Enterprise also extended its support to PIER71’s start-ups by signing four new MOUs with start-up hubs INNOSPACE and Rainmaking Innovation, as well as maritime companies Wärtsilä and Wilhelmsen. An earlier MoU had also been signed with PortXL to provide start-ups with market access in Rotterdam and Singapore.

Areas of cooperation covered in the agreements included joint scouting for start-ups in China and also to attract and anchor venture building activities focusing on the maritime and logistics sectors in Singapore in the case of the former two.

The other agreements with Wartsila and Wilhelmsen will see the two companies sharing their expertise in the areas of  ship-to-ship connectivity solutions and shipping and maritime services respectively.

MPA ce Andrew Tan said: “The launch of PIER71, in collaboration with NUS Enterprise, is part of the MPA’s broader innovation strategy under the Sea Transport Industry Transformation Map (ITM). PIER71 will catalyse collaborations between the maritime companies, technology start-ups and adjacent sectors to position Singapore’s maritime industry for the next wave of growth enabled by digital technologies. Together with the setup of MPA, PSA and Jurong Port Living Labs for the test-bedding of new technologies and new concept of operations, we hope to position Singapore as a vibrant and innovative maritime hub.”

Read More: Singapore sets out ambitious innovation plan to grow maritime sector’s value-add by $3.4bn

The Smart Port Challenge (SPC) 2018, a six-month programme that aims to catalyse digital transformation in the maritime industry, was held in conjunction with the launch of PIER71.

The number of companies participating in SPC, which brings together maritime and technology players to work on identified problem statements, has increased to 17 from 12 at the inaugural event in 2017.

Besides cash prizes of SGD10,000 ($7,505), SGD5,000 and SGD3,000 for the top three proposals, selected finalists also stand a chance to be invited to join PIER71 ACCELERATE, a customised curriculum on building viable maritime tech start-ups, and receive a further grant of up to SGD50,000 from MPA to develop prototypes with maritime companies.

“The PIER71 programme opens a new chapter for NUS Enterprise,” said  NUS Enterprise ceo Lily Chan. “Building on the foundation that NUS Enterprise laid in spearheading the start-up ecosystem, we are now fostering strategic partnerships to help bridge and provide platforms for our curated start-ups to engage with the flagship maritime industry and create opportunities for innovation driven growth."

Both the launch of PIER71 and SPC were organised as part of Innovfest unbound 2018, a week-long series of events organised by NUS Enterprise and London-based company unbound.

Posted 06 June 2018

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Vincent Wee

Asia Editor, Seatrade Maritime News

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