The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and NUS Enterprise, the entrepreneurial arm of the National University of Singapore (NUS), have kicked off the 4th edition of Smart Port Challenge (SPC) under Port Innovation Ecosystem Reimagined @ BLOCK71 (PIER71). Start-ups participating in this year’s challenge will now have direct access to PIER71’s Venture Capital (VC) partner network for investment advice and opportunities.
To further enhance the vibrancy of the maritime tech start-up ecosystem, PIER71 has brought together new VC partners with specific interests in the maritime sector to its network. These include Bernhard Schulte INNOPORT, PACC Offshore Services Holdings (POSH), Pacific Carriers Limited (PCL), PSA unboXed and TNB Aura. This will offer PIER71 start-ups access to these partners’ investment pool and expert knowledge.
“As the shipping industry grapples with COVID-19, many companies are already repositioning themselves for the new normal. There are opportunities for greater digitalisation, automation and adoption of new technology,” said Quah Ley Hoon, chief executive of MPA.
“Smart Port Challenge comes in timely where start-ups join hands with the shipping companies to curate solutions to future-proof ourselves and build a more resilient maritime community; with the added venture capital funding steering more resources towards this important effort,” she added
The SPC is a key initiative by PIER71 to bridge opportunities in the maritime sector with innovative solutions that can be reimagined to accelerate digital transformation within the industry.
Technology start-ups are invited to submit proposals based on any of the 17 innovation opportunities that have been curated in collaboration with 15 maritime corporates and other partners this year.
Shortlisted start-ups will gain exclusive access to PIER71 Accelerate, a six-week market and business model validation programme; PIER71’s global network of partners; mentoring; workshops and masterclasses; eligibility for MPA grant applications of up to S$50,000 each; opportunity to win top three cash prizes of S$10,000, S$5,000 and S$3,000 respectively; as well as continued support beyond SPC. To support Maritime Singapore’s long-term sustainability goals, an innovation opportunity focusing on maritime decarbonisation will be featured for the first time.
According to Professor Freddy Boey, NUS deputy president - innovation and enterprise, PIER71 is part of our larger effort in developing deep-tech and industry-relevant programmes.
“It is even more pertinent now in helping to address real-world problems that have been identified by our maritime corporates who are ready and able to adopt viable and innovative solutions. From pivoting their business to be more relevant, to diverting and optimising their resources for operational efficiency, start-ups have stepped up to meet challenges and opportunities presented by this newly evolved environment,” he said. “Through PIER71’s Smart Port Challenge, we look forward to seeing more innovative minds making positive impact with technology in the maritime industry and playing a key role in our recovery from COVID-19.”
Over 400 technology start-ups from Singapore, China, Japan, Denmark, Netherlands to US have participated in SPC to date, with 32 of them receiving grant funding of over S$1.5 million in total to develop and test-bed their solutions.