The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) has awarded a total of S$1.625 million to 11 joint industry projects in the areas of maritime digitalisation and additive manufacturing for ship and marine parts. This was announced by Mr Chee Hong Tat, Senior Minister of State for Transport and Foreign Affairs at the Smart Port Challenge 2020 Finals.
“As the world’s busiest transhipment hub, Singapore must embrace technologies to ensure operations remain efficient. We believe that solutions that work in our busy waters are likely to work in other parts of the world. Hence, we proactively partner the industry and provide an environment that is needed to grow an innovative maritime ecosystem,” said Mr Chee.
Building competitiveness and resilience in a post-COVID new normal
Five of these projects will address operational resilience and productivity needs. Scheduled to be completed by the third quarter of 2021, these projects will help transform the way operations are carried out in a post-COVID new normal. The projects will also strengthen the resilience in the way these operations carried out.
Deepening additive manufacturing capabilities
Another six projects will look at using additive manufacturing for Singapore to become a hub for just-in-time provision of marine parts. The consortiums behind these projects aim to deepen additive manufacturing capabilities in Singapore and trial the use of at least 26 3D-printed parts onboard Singapore-registered vessels to test the viability of these parts. These projects are expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2022 and bring about greater efficiency and cost savings for the industry.
MPA had launched joint calls for proposals in these two areas with the Singapore Shipping Association (SSA) and National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Cluster (NAMIC) earlier this year and received 40 proposals from the maritime industry. Proposals were evaluated based on their technological innovation and differentiation, impact to the industry, and strength of capability development.
The selected projects have been co-funded by MPA’s Maritime Innovation and Technology (MINT) Fund, which aims to support maritime companies to digitalise and trial technologies that can help to develop Singapore as a centre of excellence for maritime R&D and technology solutions.
Mr Michael Phoon, SSA Executive Director said, “The varied JIP projects by SSA members’ reflect the increasing focus on digitalisation and sustainability to meet long-term business competitiveness. We are very encouraged that from identifying some 100 ship parts in Phase 1, we will be trialling the use of at least 26 3D printed parts onboard Singapore-registered vessels in Phase 2. We look forward to the wider adoption and acceptance of such transformation technologies by the global maritime community.”
Dr Ho Chaw Sing, NAMIC Managing Director said, “The MPA-NAMIC-SSA Joint Industry Programme has provided a platform for multiple industry cluster teams – comprising of 3D printing service providers, public-sector research performers, classification societies, and major ship companies – to accelerate the deployment of certified and field-trialled 3D printed maritime parts. This accelerated approach deepens the industry engagement, harnessing the collective resources and innovative capabilities to develop Singapore into a global AM hub for the maritime industry, cementing Singapore’s position as a world-class global maritime centre and hub port. Together with our partners, NAMIC will continue to scale efforts in pull-through from research into business outcomes for value capture through the adoption of additive manufacturing technology and solutions.”
At the grand final held today, three promising start-ups were named winners to the Smart Port Challenge (SPC) 2020. These winners were announced by Mr Chee Hong Tat, Senior Minister of State for Transport and Foreign Affairs. The grand final saw eight shortlisted start-ups pitching their proposal to a panel of judges.
The first, second and third place winners were BeeX, FUELSAVE and Vulcan AI. Judged on their proposed solution, business model, market opportunity, impact to the maritime industry and overall team capability, they each walked away with cash prizes of S$10,000 S$5,000 and S$3,000 respectively.
The SPC is a core programme under Port Innovation Ecosystem Reimagined @ BLOCK71 (PIER71), a collaboration between the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and NUS Enterprise, the entrepreneurial arm of the National University of Singapore (NUS). The fourth edition of the SPC received 187 applications from start-ups around the world and was conducted online for the first time. Many of these applications seek to automate processes and reduce reliance on manpower through solutions such as robots for hull cleaning, and virtual walkthrough of vessels for ship inspections, which is particularly beneficial in light of COVID-19. From the pool of highly qualified proposals received, 16 were selected, putting their teams into PIER71 Accelerate, a six-week market validation and customer discovery programme.
Focusing on areas such as artificial intelligence, data analytics, Internet of Things and robotics, all 16 finalists will be eligible to apply to MPA for a grant of up to S$50,000 to embark on pilot projects with maritime companies.
Mr Chee said, “In today’s age, what gives us a competitive edge is not capital but new ways to unlock value from our businesses. We must ensure that innovation thrives and flourish in Maritime Singapore. This calls for a collaborative approach. Government agencies such as MPA, academia, industry, and solution-providers must come together to translate innovative ideas into real-world solutions. Through SPC, we support technology start-ups to co-create solutions with the industry, which can be exported world-wide.”
Professor Freddy Boey, NUS Deputy President (Innovation and Enterprise), said, “PIER71 is a collaborative effort that brings vital parts of the ecosystem together to fast-track technology solutions industry-wide. Our vision for this partnership with MPA is to raise the competitive edge of start-ups by injecting deep tech developed in Singapore, starting with those from NUS, to strengthen their offering to the industry, and to broaden their reach beyond Singapore.”
Grace Chia, CEO of BeeX commented, “PIER71 has been an extremely comprehensive acceleration programme, helping us refine our value propositions to maritime corporates. We are thankful for the mentorship, networking opportunities and guidance. The win is a great encouragement to our team, and we look forward to working with the ecosystem to improve underwater inspections.”
Twelve of the 2019 SPC cohort were awarded the MPA grant earlier this year and several have made headway with their prototypes in the maritime industry. Among the award recipients, two Singapore-based start-ups have also secured additional funding. Edufied (parent company of Marified) raised seed funding valued at nearly US$4 million, while Performance Rotors also secured funding from Dutch multinational Royal Vopak, a leading global tank storage company. Both have plans to expand their operations overseas.