MPA launches first Smart Port Challenge

SINGAPORE - The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) on Monday launched the first Smart Port Challenge in its push for innovation within the maritime sector.

Open to both start-ups and non-start-ups, the six-month programme is aimed at identifying challenges related to technologies such as the Internet of Things, data analytics, machine learning, and blockchain, and translating ideas into commercial solutions.

The MPA and PSA unboXed will provide seed funding support of up to $50,000 for each selected start-up to develop full prototypes of their solutions which can be implemented for business operations.

Start-ups can also receive seed funding support from other venture capitals (VCs), while shortlisted non- start-ups will be eligible for MPA's Maritime Innovation and Technology funding for test-bedding or product development.

The Smart Port Challenge is aimed at boosting collaboration between organisations and start-ups to drive digital transformation in the maritime industry, said the MPA. Close to 190 participants from the technology, start-up and the VC community are participating in the programme.

"The scope for digitisation in the maritime industry is immense. For Maritime Singapore to stay ahead of the competition, we must continue to innovate and invest in our future capabilities," said MPA chief executive Andrew Tan.

"The Smart Port Challenge 2017 ... is part of our wider industry transformation effort to develop an innovative maritime start-up ecosystem to take advantage of the growing applications of automation, Information and Communication Technology and data analytics in the maritime industry."

Already, noted Mr Tan, the MPA has started discussions with PSA, ST Electronics and DNV-GL to develop and test-bed smart and autonomous harbourcraft, for example.

It is also working with the Singapore Customs to promote the development of innovative digital services, such as the electronic bill of lading and sea freight e-commerce, on the upcoming National Trade Platform - a single, open platform where importers and exporters would have access to all government-related and commercial trade services.

In addition, the MPA is expanding on its collaboration with the Port of Rotterdam this year to explore ways to improve port-toport linkages that will facilitate faster port clearances and just-in-time vessel arrivals, Mr Tan said.

It is also looking into partnering other Government agencies such as Spring and JTC to leverage on their existing start-up support mechanisms such as the startup@SG scheme and their network to "grow maritime technology start-ups, and at the same time attract VCs into the maritime innovation ecosystem".

Further details will be announced in due course, said Mr Tan.