PSA launches $20m venture capital arm

PSA's upcoming Tuas Terminal will be a test bed for new start-ups and ideas, such as using unmanned trucks to carry cargo.
Mr Tan Chong Meng, PSA CEO. PHOTO: PSA

Port operator PSA International is on the lookout for game changers in the logistics space after launching its $20 million corporate venture capital arm yesterday.

The group's wholly-owned unit PSA unboXed, through its incubator programme, will invest in and nurture about 10 to 20 start-ups in logistics technology to create solutions that tap on information and communications technology.

These solutions will include robotics and automation in container and cargo handling operations, the Internet of Things and data analytics. Another area is transaction solutions for the maritime trade and finance ecosystems.

PSA said in a statement that selected start-ups will receive up to $50,000 as an initial sum in seed funding and be provided with incubator facilities at PSA's Pasir Panjang Terminal Building 3.

They will also have access to operating ports at PSA Singapore Terminals to develop and test ideas for the real market, as well as receive mentorship from PSA port professionals and other business leaders.


PSA’s upcoming Tuas Terminal will be a test bed for new start-ups and ideas, such as using unmanned trucks to carry cargo. PHOTO: PSA

PSA CAN CREATE INDUSTRIAL CHANGE

Being one of the world's largest port operators gives PSA the unique platform to instigate and support game changers in our industry.

MR TAN CHONG MENG, PSA CEO

PSA is one of the world's largest centres for container movement, handling about 64 million standard-sized containers a year, out of 700 million globally.

Mr Tan Chong Meng, group chief executive of PSA International, told reporters at the launch event yesterday there could be more rounds of funding for start-ups following this initial $20 million sum.

"Being one of the world's largest port operators gives PSA the unique platform to instigate and support game changers in our industry," he said, adding that now is a good time for the group to harness the possibilities enabled by new technologies. "The drive, ultimately, is productivity," said Mr Tan. "The more we can get less waste, better value for our customers and lower costs for us, the more competitive we'll be."

The upcoming Tuas Terminal will allow PSA to test these ideas and relook its operations, added PSA head of group technology Oh Bee Lock. The Tuas Terminal will be developed in four phases over 30 years, with Phase 1 reclamation work due to be completed by the early 2020s.

"We don't want to design Tuas to be an extension of what we are today," said Mr Oh, noting that the terminal, for instance, will be using Automated Guided Vehicles, or driverless trucks that can carry containers on their own. "You can imagine (it will be) like a smart factory, where automation and robotisation will be used."

The call for submissions opened yesterday. More information is available at unboxed.globalpsa.com.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 10, 2016, with the headline 'PSA launches $20m venture capital arm'. Print Edition | Subscribe