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MPA Singapore’s smart port challenge 2020 gets underway

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and NUS Enterprise, the entrepreneurial arm of the National University of Singapore (NUS), have launched the Smart Port Challenge (SPC) 2020.

The project invites technology start-ups 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.

To support Maritime Singapore’s long-term sustainability goals, an innovation opportunity focusing on maritime decarbonisation will be featured for the first time.

Start-ups participating in this year’s challenge will have direct access to Port Innovation Ecosystem Reimagined @ BLOCK71 (PIER71) Venture Capital (VC) partner network for investment advice and opportunities.

PIER71 VC partners include Bernhard Schulte INNOPORT, PACC Offshore Services Holdings (POSH), Pacific Carriers Limited (PCL), PSA unboXed and TNB Aura.

Now into its fourth edition, the SPC aims to bridge opportunities in the maritime sector with innovative solutions that can be reimagined to accelerate digital transformation within the industry, especially in the context of COVID-19.

Shortlisted start-ups will gain exclusive access to PIER71 Accelerate, a six-week market and business model validation programme.

“COVID-19 brings with it supply chain disruptions, but it also brings about opportunities for greater collaboration and partnership, both internally and externally,” Quah Ley Hoon, Chief Executive of MPA, said.

“In Singapore, we have kept our port open, to continue to bring goods in and out. We worked with over 40 ports around the world, on a common declaration to keep the global supply chain going. We rolled out financial support such as the MaritimeSG Together Package for companies.

“We now need to prepare for the new normal. And this leads to my second message – seize opportunities to accelerate digitalisation and innovative solutions.”

PIER71’s global network of partners provides mentoring; workshops and masterclasses; eligibility for MPA grant applications of up to S$50,000 (US $35,925) each; the 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.

“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,” Quah Ley Hoon said.

The Smart Port Challenge comes in a time 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.” 

 “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,” Professor Freddy Boey, NUS Deputy President (Innovation and Enterprise), said.

“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.”

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.

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