The first Wärtsilä SparkUp Challenge, an initiative by the technology group Wärtsilä to find innovative start-ups to develop ideas for the smart shipping value chain, has been won by KNL Networks and Portcall.com. The prize for the winners is a four-month collaboration and co-creation in the Wärtsilä Digital Acceleration Centre (DAC) beginning in March. In addition, they will receive a capital grant of 50,000 euros.
“We are extremely delighted and proud to announce these winners. This is an amazing opportunity for both us and the winners. This cooperation will enable us to work with some truly innovative minds, and to learn from them. Couple that with access to our experts, insights, support, mentoring, and the most renowned customers in the marine industry, I can’t wait to see what comes out from this co-creation!,” says Alid Dettke, Vice President of Open Innovation in Wärtsilä.
Finland-based KNL Networks provides a data network for maritime communications. Portcall.com, based in the USA, offers a collaboration platform that logs incoming and outgoing ships in ports, and optimises port operations.
“Both winning start-up companies are perfectly positioned to deliver our smart marine vision. This start-up collaboration will accelerate our business and help to create new value for our customers. I see it as being a strategically important step for Wärtsilä,” says Saku Mäihäniemi, member of the jury and Head of Digital of Wärtsilä Services.
“I think KNL has giant potential, and what I like most about their solution is that they have their own hardware from point to point, as well as their own cyber security, so nothing needs to be done over the internet,” says Jörgen Strandberg, member of the jury and General Manager Advanced Technology in Wärtsilä Marine Solutions.
The winners were selected by a jury made up of Wärtsilä’s own and external industry specialists at the SparkUp Challenge Day, which was held at Wärtsilä headquarters in Helsinki on 28 February. The 11 finalists were chosen from a shortlist of 20 start-ups, which were screened and evaluated based on their ability to complement Wärtsilä’s Smart Marine Ecosystem Vision. Altogether close to 150 companies entered the challenge from across the globe. The entries were submitted as applications via ventures.wartsila.com, as well as pitches during Slush. The focus areas in choosing the finalists were: ports, cyber security, voyage management, green management, fleet management, connectivity, and autonomous technology.
Co-creation at the DAC takes place through an incubation phase and a go-to-market transformation. The Wärtsilä SparkUp Challenge was kicked off at Slush Helsinki start-up event in December 2017. The next SparkUp Challenge focusing on Smart Energy will take off later in 2018.