The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and NUS Enterprise, the entrepreneurial arm of the National University of Singapore (NUS), announced that 13 out of the 17 technology start-ups from the Smart Port Challenge (SPC) 2018 will each receive S$50,000 in seed funding from MPA. With this seed funding, these start-ups can now develop and test-bed their innovative solutions.
In addition to the seed funding, 12 start-ups were given the opportunity to pitch their solutions to venture capitalists at the inaugural Mixer and Pitch Session held as part of the Singapore Maritime Technology Conference (SMTC) 2019. Jointly organised with Enterprise Singapore and NUS Enterprise, the session aims to strengthen the development of the maritime innovation ecosystem and open up opportunities in the maritime industry for start-ups and venture capitalists. Among the venture capitalists who were at the Mixer & Pitch Session were EV Growth, Futurelabs Ventures, Green Meadows Accelerator, SG Innovate, and TNB Ventures.
Mr Vicknesh Pillay, Managing Partner of venture capitalist TNB Aura Fund, said, “As the maritime industry is characterised by its heavily manual and largely paper-based processes, digitisation is the key to unlocking further innovation such as automation, data analytics, and optimisation. It is precisely due to the inefficiencies of traditional processes that we see massive opportunities ahead.”
One of the recipients of the seed funding was Claritecs. Ms Marianne Choo, Chief Marketing Officer of Claritecs, said, “Claritecs was one of the youngest start-ups at the 2018 Smart Port Challenge, and we achieved a Top 3 win with ‘BunkerMaestro’, an algorithm-based platform to rejuvenate bunker scheduling operations, with data-driven insights for increased work efficiencies, scheduling clarity and fleet optimisation. We will enter the test-bed phase from next month, with five bunker tanker operators who collectively manage one-third of Singapore’s bunker tanker fleet. We are very grateful to obtain S$50,000 in seed funding from MPA, as it will go a long way in helping us – a 14-month old company at pre-revenue stage – to sustain development of BunkerMaestro and its subsequent market roll-out.”
“MPA and NUS Enterprise jointly launched PIER71 last year to spur digital adoption in the maritime industry. One of the key highlights of PIER71 is the Smart Port Challenge, which brings together maritime corporates and technology start-ups. These technology start-ups have expertise in various technology areas, such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, Internet of Things and augmented reality. This encourages the adoption of latest technologies and emerging innovations for a more productive and competitive maritime sector in Singapore,” said Professor Wong Poh Kam, Senior Director, NUS Entrepreneurship Centre, NUS Enterprise.
Funding for test-bedding technologies and developing prototypes
Each of the 13 start-ups were given seed funding of S$50,000 as their solutions were close to reaching the market. The money will be used to support prototype development, test-bed solutions and further develop the prototype after gathering feedback from the industry.
To adopt a more targeted approach for incubation, PIER71 has grouped these start-up solutions into three clusters: 1) Enabling platforms; 2) Port and Cargo Operations; and 3) Crossed industry/ border innovation. This approach addresses the need for higher network speed and encourages cross-sharing of services. Details of each start-up’s solution are available in Annex A.
Strategic Industrial Partnerships
To further support the maritime innovation ecosystem, PIER71 formed several partnerships to provide these 13 start-ups with a range of resources that will help them bring their technologies to market. The partners include AdNovum which provides access to security technologies and consultancy service in cybersecurity; Singtel which provides access to its satellite network, Internet of Things (IoT) network and curated data; MarineTraffic which provides access to maritime traffic information; TerraWeather which provides access to weather information; and Panasonic R&D Centre Singapore which provides access to vision and wireless communication technologies. See Annex B for a list of MOUs being signed during the Singapore Maritime Week between the start-ups and strategic technology partners or maritime corporate partners, to bring their technologies closer to market.
“Although increased digitalisation and innovative technologies have resulted in unprecedented change in the maritime sector, it has also brought about cost- and time-savings, growth and new capabilities. Through initiatives under the Sea Transport Industry Transformation Map and continued collaboration across the maritime ecosystem, Maritime Singapore will be able to ride the next wave of innovation-driven growth and move up the value chain, to maintain our standing as a global maritime hub,” summed up Mr Kenneth Lim, Chief Technology Officer, MPA.